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Travel to San Francisco: San Francisco Bars

Club | Bars | Nightclub

San Francisco bars

111 Minna (at Second Street ), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.974.1719
Nightclubbing is about a lot of things, but mostly it's about energy, and while this city is bursting with fine disco emporiums, in our opinion, the best is 111 Minna. The vibe is just better here -- you won't be frisked upon entering, the cover charge is never steep, and once inside you'll find a decidedly non-bridge-and-tunnelish, peaceful, hip crowd, some of the best electronic music in the city, and stylish art to boot. What the place lacks in some departments (sweaty people bumping into you on nights when world-class DJs spin) it's more than makes up for in others (a liberal in-and-out policy, a no poseur-infested VIP room, shaken Martinis and Cosmos, and lime-perfect Margs). The music has expanded to sooth more than house fans: rock out on Friday Happy Hour at the Steen and Dave Showe, chilling on psychadelic wood furniture with the aforementioned shaken. If you can't feel it here, you probably never will.

3199 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/921-3944

Bar, Marina

Balboa Cafe, a jam-packed hangout, one of the San Francisco bars for the young and upwardly mobile crowd, is famous for its burgers and its single clientele.

1000 Great Hwy., Sunset, San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/386-8439

Bar, Golden Gate, Park

The Beach Chalet, is one of the San Francisco bars situated in a historic building filled with Works Project Administration murals, brews its own beers, like its golden Playland Pale Ale. Enjoy them with American bistro food and a stunning view overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If possible, time your visit to coincide with the sunset.

56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/433-6300

Bar, North Beach

Bix is a spirited, elegant supper club with live jazz combos. A densely packed crowd in the small bar area is a mix of nattily dressed diners waiting for their table and small groups who have just stopped in to enjoy one of Bix's famous martinis.

540 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/864-2419

Bar, Mission

Blondies' Bar and No Grill hosts a mix of DJ grooves and live jazz and swing. A rare enclosed "smoking lounge" in the back makes it a favorite of those who like to light up. Monster martinis are a specialty.

2765 Hyde St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/474-5044

Bar, Fisherman's Wharf

Buena Vista Café, one of most popular San Francisco bars, introduced Irish coffee to the New World -- or so it says. Because it has a fine view of the waterfront, it's usually packed with tourists.

555 California St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/433-7500

Bar, Financial District

Carnelian Room, on the 52nd floor of the Bank of America Building, has what is perhaps the loftiest view of San Francisco 's magnificent skyline. Enjoy dinner or cocktails at 779 ft above the ground; reservations are a must for dinner. The dress code requires jackets, but ties are optional.

1723 Polk St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/776-4162

Bar (Gay), Van Ness /Polk

The The Cinch, a Wild West-theme neighborhood bar with pinball machines and pool tables, is one of several hosts of the gay San Francisco Pool Association's weekly matches. It's not the least bit trendy, which is part of its charm for those who regularly drink here.

398 12th St., SoMa, San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/626-0880

Bar (Gay), South of Market

Eagle Tavern is one of the few San Francisco bars that remain from the days before AIDS and gentrification. Bikers are courted with endless drink specials. The Sunday-afternoon "Beer Busts" (3 PM-6 PM) are a social high point and benefit charitable organizations.

950 Geary St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/885-4074

Bar, Tenderloin

Edinburgh Castle is a dark, cavernous spot with several seating areas. You can work off your fish-and-chips and Scottish brews with a turn at the dartboard or pool table. Live music alternates with spoken-word events and even Scottish cultural events (January's Robert Burns celebration is a favorite).

901 Cole St.
San Francisco, CA 94117-4315
Phone: 415/566-3063

Eos Restaurant and Wine Bar is a cozy space with more than 400 wines by the bottle and more than 40 by the glass. Guest speakers introduce the week's new wine flight every Wednesday 6:30 PM-8:30 PM. The adjoining restaurant's full menu of excellent East-West fusion cuisine is available at the bar

5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/788-1234

Bar, Embarcadero

Equinox, an expensive restaurant and cocktail lounge on the 22nd floor of the Hyatt Regency, is popular with out-of-towners despite spotty service and mediocre cocktails because of its revolving platform with 360° views of the city. You can sightsee, eat, and drink, all from the comfort of your own chair.

3079 16th St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/861-5757

Bar (Gay), Mission

Esta Noche, a longtime Mission District establishment, draws a steady crowd of Latino gays, including some of the city's wildest drag queens.

2 Harrison St., SoMa, San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/243-8246

Bar, South of Market

Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant is a favorite of the swinging under-thirty set on Friday. The upstairs dining room and microbrewery beer is a nightly draw for adults of all ages.

1500 Broadway, San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/346-7683

Bar, Russian Hill

Harry Denton's Rouge is the newest of bon vivant Harry Denton's nightspots. A mostly older, out-of-town set, dressed to the nines, fills the booths at dinnertime, though the crowd gets younger as the dancing begins later in the evening. Dramatic red curtains, dozens of sparkling chandeliers, and Vegas-style showgirls create a glitzy scene.

450 Powell St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/395-8595

Bar, Union Square

Harry Denton's Starlight Room, on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, re-creates the 1950s high life with rose-velvet booths and romantic lighting. DJ events during the week are replaced by Harry Denton's Starlight Orchestra Thursday through Saturday nights. Jackets are preferred for gentlemen.

2 Embarcadero Center, Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/986-0797

Bar, Financial District

Holding Company, one of the most popular weeknight Financial District watering holes, is where scores of office workers gather to enjoy friendly libations. Open weekdays only, the Holding Company stays busy from lunch through early evening but tends to empty out by 9 PM.

2532 Mission St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/401-0810

Bar, Mission

Attached to the restaurant Foreign Cinema, Laszlo, with its bilevel design, dim lighting, and candles on each table, is a great spot for a romantic tête-à-téte over a classy cocktail or single malt whisky. DJs spin most nights after 9 PM.

3464 19th St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/863-2052

Bar (Lesbian), Mission

The Lexington Club is where, according to its slogan, "Every night is ladies' night." This all-girl club is geared toward the younger lesbian set.

4 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/241-0205

Bar (Gay), Mission

Martuni's, an elegant, low-key bar at the intersection of the Castro, the Mission, and Hayes Valley, draws a mixed crowd that enjoys cocktails in a refined environment; variations on the martini are a specialty. In the back room, a pianist plays nightly; occasionally he's joined by cast members of musicals in town, who belt out favorites to an appreciative crowd in the intimate space.

4067 18th St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/861-4186

Bar (Gay), Castro

Midnight Sun, one of the Castro's longest-standing and most popular bars, has riotously programmed giant video screens, showing a mix of old sitcoms, Will and Grace episodes, and musicals and show tunes. Don't expect to be able to hear yourself think.

760 2nd St., San Francisco CA 94107; Tel. 415.227.8660
Pac Bell Park looms large over Momo's outdoor bar and patio in SoMa. Designed by the same architects who crafted Ghiradelli Square, Momo's is an inviting pre-game or happy hour bar with a terrific a la carte menu.

Bar, Cow Hollow

Perry's, one of San Francisco 's oldest singles bars, is usually jam-packed. You can dine here on great hamburgers as well as more substantial fare.

495 Geary St., Union Sq., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/929-2372

Bar, Union Square

The venerable Redwood Room reopened in 2001 after extensive renovations by über-hip designer Philippe Starck. Bizarre video installations, sleek (though not necessarily comfortable) seating, a lush monochromatic look, and a host of glamorous patrons in the arts and entertainment mean it's tough to get in many nights.

2201 Polk St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/928-2303

Bar, Russian Hill

Royal Oak has a comfortable, clubby feel, with Tiffany-style lamps and ferns cascading down the walls. Arrive early to snag a seat on one of the red velvet couches.

12 Saroyan Pl., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/421-4112

Bar, North Beach

Specs', a hidden hangout for artists, poets, and other heavy drinkers, is worth looking for. It's an old-fashioned watering hole, conveying a sense of the North Beach of days gone by.

999 California St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/616-6916

Bar, Nob Hill

Top of the Mark, in the Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental, was immortalized by a famous magazine photograph as a hot spot for World War II servicemen on leave or about to ship out. Bands play a mix of jazz, swing, and blues. There's an entertainment charge of $5, $10 on Friday and Saturday nights.

242 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/391-1244

Bar, North Beach

Tosca Café, like Specs' and Vesuvio nearby, holds a special place in San Francisco lore. It has an Italian flavor, with opera, big band, and Italian standards on the jukebox, plus an antique espresso machine that's nothing less than a work of art. Celebrities are known to stop by when they're in town.

255 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/362-3370

Bar, North Beach

Vesuvio Café, near the legendary City Lights Bookstore, is little altered since its 1960s heyday. The second-floor balcony is a fine vantage point for watching the colorful Broadway-Columbus intersection. Another part of its appeal is its always-mixed clientele, from neighborhood regulars to young couples on dates to groups celebrating special occasions.

4063 18th St., San Francisco, CA, USA
Phone: 415/255-2733

Bar (Gay), Castro

Whiskey Lounge, upstairs from the Red Grill, is a relative newcomer to the Castro bar scene. A faux fireplace and comfy leather chairs make this lounge far cozier than the many other bars along the block.

San Francisco hotels

The Argent Hotel San Francisco Argonaut Hotel Chancellor Hotel on Union Square Comfort Suites San Francisco Airport Commodore Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel Hotel Cosmo, A Kimpton Boutique Hotel Courtyard by Marriott Fishermans Wharf Dakota Hotel Hotel Diva Embassy Hotel