San Francisco Bars & Nightlife
528 Washington St., Jackson Square
Verjus is San Francisco’s answer to a contemporary Parisian wine bar. Think Septime, but in Washington Square. The owners are the duo behind Cotogna and Quince, so you already know the food will be fabulous. French-inspired plates like cheesy croquettes and duck confit dominate the sit-down restaurant menu (at the back of the space), while the tasting area is all about lighter bites, cheese, and tinned fish on toast. The wine list is, in two words: extensive and impressive. You could dine and drink at Verjus every week of the year and try something new each time. We love it here, and you will too.
3354 Grand Ave., Oakland
Cool, casual, packed with locals—dogs and kids in tow—Ordinaire feels like the village gathering space. And in a way, it is. It’s the kind of wine-bar-meets-tasting-room-meets-store where you pop in to buy a bottle and end up staying to taste a few glasses with strangers who become friends. A stalwart of the Oakland wine scene, the bar has been around for a while, but regular events and menu changes mean Ordinaire feels fresh every time. Images courtesy of Terri Lowenthal.
420 3rd St., Oakland
Airy, bright, and beyond soothing, Minimo is a space for lingering. A long communal table encourages tasting and talking with a pack of friends or whomever you find yourself next to. The name “Minimo” translates from Italian to minimal—a nod to the strictly low-intervention, mostly biodynamic, terroir-driven wine list. If outdoor sipping is more your vibe, Minimo’s patio area is part of a larger block party in collaboration with a neighboring brewery and grill. Take a seat, order a wine flight, or a bottle off the shelves inside, a cheese board or something tasty from the restaurant next door, and chill. To really get into the convivial Oakland vibe, join Minimo’s wine club or attend one of their tastings, often led by a wine-maker. Images courtesy of Alison Christiana.
226 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley
San Francisco is a city to revel in the nature that envelops it. Hikes, bike rides over the bridge, general outdoorsy behavior is what weekends in Northern California are all about. The Junction hits the jackpot when it comes to a big, family-friendly beer garden with fantastic food and brews on tap. Pile around an outdoor table after a long hike and order a slew of pizzas from Pizza Hacker (they’re amazing, promise). Images courtesy of Jess Paul.
2 Clement St., Inner Richmond
Breck’s is that catch-all spot every neighborhood needs. Morning cappuccino? Breck's. Quick grilled cheese at noon on a Thursday? Breck's. A crisp glass of Chablis and light bites with a girlfriend? Breck's. The interior is cute and casual with Parisian-style round tables, open shelves so you can check out the bottle stash, and huge windows for that bright Inner Richmond light pour in.
458 Grove St., Hayes Valley
Birba feels like a slice of Copenhagen, or maybe Stockholm. The aesthetic is pared-back, blonde-wood-everywhere minimalism. It’s cool…like, really cool. The booze list leans toward natural, biodynamic bottles from small, primarily French and Italian producers. The sherry and vermouth list is expansive. For those looking to abstain from alcohol, Birba’s Seedlip spritz tastes like sparkling summer in a glass, especially when enjoyed on the pretty patio. This small bar hosts regular food pop-ups, and currently, you’ll find Intu-On, a Thai concept worth driving for.
424 Octavia at Fell, Hayes Valley
This lovely beer garden is exactly the kind of place you want to come for drinks after work on a sunny day (their patio is huge). Food-wise, there's a nice selection of snacks like pickles and pretzels, plus some more filling options, including several types of sausage and sandwiches served in pretzel knot buns. The list of beers is excellent, and expertly curated down to a few great options–easing any sense of menu overwhelm. If you're still unsure, try a Radler: A mixture of beer and sparkling lemon soda that's pleasingly light and summery.
Chambers Eat + Drink
Phoenix Hotel, 601 Eddy St., Tenderloin
San Francisco's notoriously gloomy weather means pool parties aren't exactly abundant in the city. But on those rare days that call for a bikini, the poolside patio at Chambers Eat + Drink at the Phoenix is the place to be. The scene can get a little rowdy in the afternoon, so go early (the brunch is good).
Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission St., Financial District
With its central location along the Embarcadero in the Financial District, Americano is an easy spot for drinks after work. Their patio, where they often have live music, has a wide view of the bay, anchored by the Ferry Building on the left and the Bay Bridge on the right. The happy hour menu is blessedly simple, offering a cocktail, a wine, a beer, and a snack in their signature farm-to-table Italian style.
El Techo de Lolinda
2518 Mission St., Mission
This is a local favorite for great margaritas (which should arguably be ordered only by the pitcher) and big sweeping views of the city. The vibe is cozy, and while there are ample heat lamps to keep you warm as the sun goes down, this place is really best for day drinking—get there early enough put in a brunch order.