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Best Bars in San Francisco

By: Cityseeker
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Smuggler's Cove

If the name Smuggler's Cove conjures pictures of pirates singing, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum," well rest assured that's no mistake. This bar specializes in rum-based drinks, specifically Havana Probation-era, traditional Caribbean and tiki bar concoctions. The decor echoes the menu, providing comfortable seating in a tiki bar-inspired atmosphere. Smuggler's Cove makes sure to maintain a relaxed atmosphere by keeping the bar from getting too crowded and keeping music at a low level so everyone can talk while sipping their drinks. This means there's sometimes a line at the door, but don't let that scare you away from stepping into the cove.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is a popular bar in the Mission. They make a mean drink here, and you will fit in easily with the crowd, just don't let the profusion of leather and Harleys intimidate you. You do not have to be a biker to feel at home. An outdoor patio with barbecue and live music are all part of the experience. Best of all, you can wake up in the morning and start all over again with one of their famous Bloody Mary's.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Butter

You don't have to travel to the Deep South to experience a culinary tradition that is rarely reproduced elsewhere. Perhaps for good reason. Dubbed, the best place for eating beanie weenies while listening to deep house by Rolling Stone magazine, this strange creation serves microwaved trailer trash food (Mac'n'Cheese, fries, TV dinners, etc) from an actual trailer to crowds of hipsters and clubkids. Nightly DJs and a full bar add music and mayhem to the nuke-food energy, keeping Butter's atmosphere radiant.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Toronado

This is the most unassuming of the Lower Haight dives, with lightning-fast bartenders and more microbrews than are usual at at bar. In fact, Toronado has over 50 beers on tap from such reputable breweries as Russian River and Anchor. The vibe is always good, the graffiti on the bathroom walls is legendary, and the company could not be better. When hunger strikes, you're free to bring in a sausage or three from Rosamunde right next door.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Bourbon & Branch

Bourbon & Branch is the talk of the town. Perched inconspicuously on a corner in San Francisco's Tenderloin, Bourbon & Branch has no signage and the door is closed tight. When you ring the buzzer, the door swings open and you are asked for the password. If you do not have the password, the door slams shut. It sounds barbaric, but once you have taken the time to register on their website, make a reservation, and receive a password, you will be graciously ushered into a world of boozy delight. The atmosphere is an homage to Prohibition-era speakeasies, albeit with a dash of modern urban swank. The drink menu is extensive and innovative. Featured fare includes not just one, but a whole selection of hand-numbered craft bourbons. A list of rare scotches, rums, and tequilas round out the offerings. Bartenders here are master mixologists, incorporating such sought-after liquors into equally tantalizing, boundary-busting cocktails. See the website for online reservations and a complete list of house rules.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Amnesia

Comfortable and chill, Amnesia is a great place to relax with a few drinks and your buddies. The bar offers a variety of micro-brewed beers along with a wide selection of wines, and live music (from bluegrass to gypsy jazz and even hip-hop) entertains patrons every night. An interestingly mixed Mission crowd can often be found here. The service is mellow and the mood is a sophisticated blend of hip and retro-cool.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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The Starlight Room

This club, perched on the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is a glamorous place to enjoy top-shelf liquors and colorful cocktails with panoramic views of the city and beyond, as well as live music. Experience classic cocktail service in 1930s-inspired decadence, along with dripping-with-crystal chandeliers and voluptuous flower arrangements. The stand-up Biedermeier-style bar can accommodate the most expensive tastes, such as Dom Perignon Rosé. A light-fare menu is also available; it's gourmet, of course. Drop in on Sunday afternoons for brunch and the drag show called Sunday's a Drag.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Trick Dog

The brains behind Rio Grande have come up with yet another ace from their sleeve with a quirky little cocktail joint in Mission District. Named Trick Dog, this twin story watering-hole exudes an old rustic warehouse charm accentuated by the vintage cast iron plates, banister posts and vintage marbles. Walk in here and take a pick from its cocktail list that is laid out on a Pantone-color-palate style menu. Apart from cocktail, the bar also has plenty of ales and beers to keep you company. Situated next to the fine dining restaurant Central Kitchen, the spot is perfect for a pre-dinner or post dinner drinks and a quick late-night bite with your pals.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Top Of The Mark

You have not seen the city until you have seen its glittering lights from Top of the Mark, where you can bask in one of the best 360-degree views of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Sip a drink or nibble on a gourmet delicacy in this posh and classic spot while enjoying nightly entertainment that ranges from salsa to swing. The elevated mahogany dance floor is surrounded by conversational seating areas featuring comfortable modern sofas, classic settees, club chairs, and wood frame bistro chairs.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

Located within SF's historic Fairmont Hotel, Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is a kitschy bamboo lounge that is for anyone who always wanted to visit the set of “Fantasy Island.” During the happy hours, indulge in some fruity umbrella drinks, the simulated tropical storm (yes, it really rains), and the intentionally cheesy soft-rock house band to lull you away to that paradise cruise you never took. Snacks and meals are both pricey, but the food's not the main reason for coming here. The Kalua pork is a highly recommended menu item, but you had best order them with a round of Mai-Tais; they're rumored to be the city's finest.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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