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.
Bender's is a Mission District legend. Firebombed into oblivion in 2006, its valiant founders rallied the troops, and with a cavalcade of community support, reopened just a year and half later, bigger and better than ever. Some choice burnt-to-a-crisp fire wreckage are kept around as "trophies" of the place's victory over tragedy, you will love watching it. Comfy booths surround the pool table and the grill, which is operated by the folks at Weird Fish.
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.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is a brewery that welcomes one and all. At Speakeasy you can simply relax and enjoy different varieties of ales and lagers. Here, you can chill out with your friends indoors or simply head to the patio and indulge in people watching. This brewery is a far cry from the stereotypical breweries that take you through boring tours; it hosts variety of interesting events on a regular basis like live music concerts, free tours, new beer releases, beer sampling and much more. And, given the food trucks that open up here, guests have a wide choice as far as food is concerned. Good food, great entertainment and endless rounds of chilled beer is what Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is all about.
It's Haight-Ashbury, so what better music to be wafting in the air as you sip the house-made brews than the Grateful Dead in a place that was known back in the '60s as the Drug Store? Remodeling has made the setting less psychedelic, though there is an ebullient mural on the wall, but Jerry and the guys are always on the sound system taking you back to the Summer of Love. That sets a mellow mood for the huge sandwiches, plates of sausages, bowls of hearty soup, and tempting finger foods such as french fries and onion rings. The service from the hip and hippie wait staff is friendly and the atmosphere is always 1967. Do not miss their special brunch every Saturday and Sunday, 10a to 3p.
Kezar has everything that a normal pub can offer, plus it uses sustainable and locally grown ingredients, and has nice big windows that look out on the bustling activity of the Cole Valley area. The food is traditional pub fare, with burgers, sandwiches (like the classic BLT), salads, and appetizers, plus some Mexican dishes like empanadas and quesadillas. Add to that a good wine list and about fifteen beers on tap, and you've got a nice neighborhood pub, right off the N-Judah Muni line.
Initiated as a place to relax and indulge in good food and wine, this wine bar comes across as a tasting room with a lounge area. The ambiance of this tasting room is more like a bar from the prohibition era, with dim lights and a warehouse-like setup serving as a backdrop to socialize with fellow drinkers. The selections from the wine list are curated by the experts who have not only scouted local wineries for their pickings, but also have sourced their collections from other Northern California wineries in Napa, Santa Cruz and Sonoma. The constant change in collection of wines adds to the fun where seasonal varietals find their way onto the list. Wine fights are available, where you can taste four wines, paired with a cheese sampler plate. Seasonal fruits and charcuterie are other options to complement your wine.
Housed inside the lofty space that was once occupied by the iconic Jackson Brewery, Basil Canteen presents a very unique environment to enjoy Thai food. The urban and rustic settings, complete with bare brick walls, beams and high ceilings, make for a ideal venue for night outs with friends or family dinners. The well-conceived menu lists some of the best Thai dishes that are native to the street-stalls and kitchens of Bangkok, like Sikrong Mu Tod, Kiow Pu, Ka Mu Palo and the ever favorite Pad Thai. Eccentric cocktails like Tong Daend and Saketini are a must try for anyone who visits Basil Canteen.
The quirky little bistro serves nouvelle American cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. Small and closely-placed tables make the dining room crowded but cozy. Appetizers are a sampling from the best of the San Francisco Bay. Crab cakes and Basque-style steamed mussels are a few of the many delectable choices. Dinner offers a choice of fresh fish custom cooked to order. A selection of wines, both Californian and French, are sold by the glass and the bottle and no corkage fees are charged on Wednesdays. Be sure to try their three course prix fixe menu served daily.
Located in the Mission District, The Hideout at Dalva is a covert bar within a bar at the corner of 16th and Valencia. This hidden gem is at the back of Dalva, through an unmarked door. Once inside, patrons will find an intimate area with low round tables, a rich red banquette and friendly mixologists who take their craft seriously. The cocktails found here are of the highest caliber, made with top shelf liquor, freshly squeezed juices and infusions. Be sure to visit early to avoid the crowds.
Perched conspicuously on a busy corner in San Francisco's Mission District, Elixir is a kind of Jack-of-all-trades of the bar world. They have an array of tap handles and they take great care to serve beers in signature glassware, yet they are also famous for their expertly mixed, fresh ingredient-filled cocktails. The ambiance is similarly shifty. By day, regulars pull up a stool and revel in the friendly pub atmosphere. In the evening, happy-hour hordes give way to scantily clad party people and the whole place suddenly feels chic. At all hours, the jukebox is great, and the dartboards are awaiting.