New & Hot Places

Hottest Bars in San Francisco

The sun is back after a rainy winter and Bay Area residents are ready to hoist a glass to that. We're especially excited to grab a Woods beer and soak up the sun at its Treasure Island beach club, or enjoy an Outer Sunset crawl at Woods Outbound and Seven Stills' recently unveiled taproom. Meanwhile, in the heart of the city, the Tenderloin's bar revival continues with cocktail standouts like The Douglas Room and Rum & Sugar. With new bars focusing on themed food and cocktail pairings, or champagne with caviar, you can grab dinner and drinks (with a group or alone) in venues like Over Proof and The Riddler. It's a fun season to spend a weekend on the town. Let's "cheers" to the area's dozen hottest local bars.

Rum & Sugar

NewTenderloin
An old-school cocktail joint lands in the Tenderloin, pouring well-priced cocktails (with a focus on rum blends), beer and wine in chill quarters. The destination maintains a casual neighborhood vibe despite the sparkly chandeliers and highbrow decor, and the bar is dog friendly.

Must-order: The bar's namesake cocktail (rum, caramelized demerara sugar, bitters, flamed orange peel); Catcher in the Sage egg-white cocktail (Dorothy Parker gin, raspberry-peach Grand Marnier)

Insider tip: Keep an eye out for the $5 happy-hour cocktail. It's a great deal for a top-quality beverage.

Rambler

NewCalifornianNob Hill
The Hat Trick Hospitality team (The Brixton, Redford) lands at the Hotel Zeppelin with this vibrant Tendernob bar and kitchen that dishes up shared plates and highbrow American mains along with beer, wine and seasonal cocktails. Exposed brick, rustic wood, intricate metalwork and modern furnishings give the bi-level space a classic feel, but expect edgy accents reflecting the hotel’s rock ‘n' roll vibe as well.

Must-order: The tart-sweet Brenda's daiquiri (rhum agricole, lime, sugar); Zeppelin martini; foie gras torchon

Insider tip: Its location by Union Square theaters and shopping streets means this is your new impromptu spot to take the edge off.

Roka Akor | San Francisco

JapaneseDowntown
"Sleek is the word" at this "upscale" branch of a global Japanese chain, where a "fabulous" space in Downtown’s Jackson Square sets the scene for "expertly grilled" robata fare, including "high-quality" steaks, plus "awesome" sushi; the lower-level lounge is a "winner" known for its "happy-hour specials", while the big-ticket dining room is "perfect for a business dinner."

Must-order: Happy-hour Roka old fashioned; $55 cocktail omakase celebrating different regions of Japan, available Thursday through Saturday

Insider tip: Only five reservations a night are available for the omakase, so plan far in advance.

Seven Stills + Hard Frescos - Lawton Taproom

Outer Sunset
A chill Outer Sunset taproom delivers well-priced Mexican bar bites, house beers (including growlers to go) and a selection of shandies blended from Seven Stills beers and fermented aguas frescas from Hard Frescos. The playful digs have a laid-back neighborhood vibe and eclectic decor, with communal tables, colorful chairs and playful wall murals.

Must-order: Tamarind session IPA; pineapple guava saison; chocolate raspberry imperial stout

Insider tip: This is surfing territory, which means breakfast burritos are in prime demand. They are served at the taproom but only until they sell out. Get here by 1 PM to try them.

Woods Outbound

NewOuter Sunset
The Outer Sunset spinoff from the Woods Beer team serves tasters, pints and to-go crowlers (think oversized cans sealed on site), plus budget-friendly El Porteno empanadas, in a cozy, neighborhood spot with a bar seating and a chill vibe.

Must-order: Freeze Pop pale ale; any regular or vintage Morpho herbal ale; special beers devoted to subjects like cookies or locally made honey

Insider tip: Since it's a couple blocks from both the beach and Golden Gate Park, take advantage of those to-go crowlers! The bar opens at 11 AM on weekends, so you're all set for your noon picnic.

Woods Island Club

San Francisco
Over on Treasure Island, the Woods Beer team serves its tasters and pints (including barrel-aged special releases) in a cavernous reclaimed airplane hangar and out on the adjoining beach, where palm trees frame sweeping Bay Bridge views and food trucks occasionally stop by to serve patrons.

Must-order: IPA brewed with mataveza tea; Island Club saison

Insider tip: Make a day of your Treasure Island visit (via a ride-share or MUNI because parking is tough and the drinking options are plentiful), and visit the island's various wineries before or after a few brews.

The Douglas Room

NewTenderloin
From the crew behind Benjamin Cooper and Big comes this high-class Union Square cocktail bar situated in the Tilden Hotel. Look for carefully crafted cocktails, beer and wine, plus midpriced New American bites, presented in a well-heeled space with bar and table seating.

Must-order: Death Star (cognac, scotch, amintillado sherry, sweet vermouth, salted chile oil); Old & In the Way, a refreshing take on a Sazerac matching bourbon with a stone fruit shrub; the bar's version of a Philly cheesesteak

Insider tip: This is the perfect stop-off point for shoppers and theatergoers near Union Square. Second tip: The excellent burger and cheesesteak are part of the small late-night menu (10 PM–1 AM).

The Riddler

NewHayes Valley
Hayes Valley is home to this chic champagne bar presenting bubbles by the glass or bottle, along with a slim wine and beer menu, complimentary popcorn and New American snacks that range from high-end caviar to hip tater tot waffles. Outfitted with rustic wood, sleek marble, floor-to-ceiling windows and splashes of gold, the sophisticated space skews upscale but maintains a playful neighborhood vibe.

Must-order: Champagne; cham-bongs (trust us, it's fun, if sloppy); bump and a shot (various caviar paired with different levels of sparkling wines or the "champagne of beers," Miller High Life)

Insider tip: Come a little hungry. The tiny kitchen makes great tater tot waffles and complimentary popcorn with various dustings, all known to ruin dinner appetites.

Almanac Beer Taproom

NewThe Mission
A modern taproom with an outdoor beer garden lands in the Mission, where the menu includes 15 proprietary beers on draft (including taproom-only releases), plus tap wine, cider and bottles to go. The seasonal menu of midpriced Californian bar bites and burgers skews local, and it’s all served in sleek quarters with clean lines, colorful wall murals and banquette, bar and high-top seating.

Must-order: Any farmer's reserve sour; grand cru beers; barrel-aged imperial stouts; Spam or avocado musubi; burger

Insider tip: Each beer is available as a two-ounce taster, served on a small guide placard. Sample as many as possible and fill out the map (over a few rounds) — one of the unorthodox beers is bound to be a favorite.

Over Proof

NewThe Mission
Open Monday through Thursday in ABV’s intimate upstairs lounge, this upscale cocktail den offers a reservations-only experience with a five-course tasting menu that includes food and drinks. Expect a dynamic vibe, and stylish decor and offerings built around themes that change quarterly.

Must-order: Preset $50 drinks and food menu with about five courses of each

Insider tip: ​These refreshing tropical rum drinks are small but potent. Pace yourself, and keep in mind the meal barely lasts 90 minutes. 

Louie’s Gen-Gen Room

Nob Hill
Reservations are required at this cozy, spirited lounge in the Liholiho Yacht Club basement, where the midpriced menu features cocktails and upscale New American bar snacks (including grilled cheese and sweet and savory waffles) not available in the main restaurant. The vibe at the Tendernob pub is tropical cool with aqua banquettes, palm tree murals and a marble bar.

Must-order: Young Coconut (cachaç​a, falernum, coconut water, green chartreuse); Last Mango in Paris (cognac, Lillet, mango); bone marrow waffle with avocado green goddess dressing, smoked sturgeon and "everything spice"

Insider tip: Reservations can only be made online, available a week in advance. Parties of four or fewer are accepted. So, don't bring a group and don't treat the bar as Liholiho Yacht Club's waiting room. If you don't have a reservation, ask the host if there's space for you.

Linden Room

NewHayes Valley
Tucked behind the dining room of Kim Alter’s stylish Nightbird, her tiny Hayes Valley lounge pours classic cocktails and seasonal blends crafted by hand, plus a few local beers and wines, in a diminutive spot that’s big on personality – think low lights, blond wood, rich leather and textured wallpaper.

Must-order: Apple Shack (armagnac, apple cider); Golden Era (clarified pisco, rum, gin, black tea)

Insider tip: This isn't the Black Horse London Pub in terms of small size and sheer intimacy but it's close. Don't come with a group. Don't arrive at prime hours, especially right before a show. Also, Tuesday to Thursday from 5 to 9 PM, the bar now offers a snack menu with items like homemade "funions" plus savory and sweet bites.

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