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Fun Bar with good food!

MyrnEats May 19, 2008 10:48 AM

I am going to be in San Francisco in June and plan on attending a Giants day game. After the game, I'd like to go to a good bar to relax, have some cocktails, dinner and experience what San Francisco has to offer.

This can be a dive bar or something a bit more upscale. Looking for a great San Francisco experience and don't want to end up at some tourist trap spending money on mediocre food.

We are staying in Union Square, so whether this bar is near the ballpark or our hotel doesn't matter.

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  1. s
    sf415 RE: MyrnEats May 19, 2008 11:42 AM

    District is a wine bar right by the ball park. It's a bit of a scene and has food, good vibe, good people watching. Bacar, Coco500, South, Local are other restos in the 'hood. Have fun!

    3 Replies
    1. re: sf415
      Robert Lauriston RE: sf415 May 19, 2008 11:52 AM

      No cocktails at District, South, or Local.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        rahir RE: Robert Lauriston May 20, 2008 11:55 AM

        District offers sake cocktails, beer, and wine.

        Olive is a fun bar with pizzas and some other eats. Rye is nearby; it's a bar and doesn't serve food, but Osha Thai is next door.

        I also second the Hi-Dive, over on the Embarcadero!

        District Wine Bar and Lounge
        216 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

        743 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

        688 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

      2. re: sf415
        Windy RE: sf415 May 19, 2008 07:21 PM

        I'll second this list over trekking all over town. There are plenty of cocktails to be found between the ball park and Union Square without going to Haight Street.

        But if you're willing to travel and want to discover an up and coming part of town, take the T streetcar line 1/2 mile south to Dogpatch and visit Yield Wine Bar, Piccino, and Serpentine all on or near 3rd Street and 22nd Street.

        We had dazzling drinks and awfully good food at Orson last week. Will report soon separately.

        South doesn't have a full bar?

      3. steve h. RE: MyrnEats May 19, 2008 12:33 PM

        magnolia pub should be reopened by then. they brew their own. pub fare is pretty decent. here's a link:


        i'll be there later this week and will let you know if there are any problems.

        14 Replies
        1. re: steve h.
          rworange RE: steve h. May 19, 2008 12:56 PM

          Magnolia is pretty far from either location.

          No one has reported yet on the new Pete's Tavern which is near the ballpark. Maybe someone can comment?

          Coco500 would be a good choice.

          Between the ballpark and Union square a few places with a full bar, food and cocktails are Bong Su (check board for recent report) and Thirsty Bear.

          Or you could eat at one of the cafes on Belden Alley near Union Square and stop by some bars like Voda or Bourbon and Branch for drinks. A little further up from Union Square heading toward Polk are a few divier bars like Olive or Lush Lounge.

          1. re: rworange
            steve h. RE: rworange May 19, 2008 01:08 PM

            howdy rw,

            getting to magnolia on mass transit after the game is pretty easy. especially for a boston hound.

            here's a link:


            we east coast guys love your mass transit system. makes getting around real easy. i'm flying out tomorrow. i'll let you know if i think magnolia is worth the navigation after the renovation.

            best regards,


            1. re: steve h.
              Xiao Yang RE: steve h. May 19, 2008 01:21 PM

              Unfortunately, the beers Magnolia produces are not the greatest. I'd jump off the bus a few blocks earlier and go to Rosamunde and grab a sausage or two and consume them at Toronado.

              1. re: Xiao Yang
                steve h. RE: Xiao Yang May 19, 2008 01:27 PM

                sounds good xy,

                while i visit san francisco with some regularity, at the end of the day i'm still a tourist. still, i like beer and pub food. i'm not convinced magnolia is on the tourist radar just yet and thought it a worthy destination.


                1. re: Xiao Yang
                  Robert Lauriston RE: Xiao Yang May 19, 2008 02:36 PM

                  Magnolia's beer is some of the best in town. But no cocktails.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    steve h. RE: Robert Lauriston May 19, 2008 02:37 PM

                    good burger, too.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      Xiao Yang RE: Robert Lauriston May 21, 2008 08:54 AM

                      "Magnolia's beer is some of the best in town."

                      If you mean some of the best MADE in town, that statement is unfortunately true. I's say 21st Amendment does better at beer, but Oh, for the days of the 20 Tank Brewpub!

                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                        Robert Lauriston RE: Xiao Yang May 21, 2008 09:33 AM

                        Taste varies. I prefer cask-conditioned beer on hand pump, and at any given time Magnolia typically has half a dozen.

                  2. re: steve h.
                    Mari RE: steve h. May 19, 2008 02:04 PM

                    If you're willing to go out to the Haight then you should check out Alembic for delicious cocktails and good bar food. Seating is tight though, so you may have to stand at the bar. http://www.alembicbar.com/

                    Closer to the ballpark is TWO. http://www.two-sf.com/

                    1. re: Mari
                      zunzie RE: Mari May 19, 2008 02:23 PM

                      I like Brick, the bar at The Grand Cafe, and Absinth

                      1. re: zunzie
                        steve h. RE: zunzie May 19, 2008 02:33 PM

                        marie and zunzie,

                        1. re: steve h.
                          zunzie RE: steve h. May 19, 2008 02:48 PM

                          LeColonial has a great lounge/cocktail area, too. I haven't been in a few years, though.

                          1. re: zunzie
                            steve h. RE: zunzie May 19, 2008 02:57 PM

                            so many bars, so little time.
                            your city is pretty good.

                2. re: steve h.
                  patcox RE: steve h. Mar 2, 2009 10:11 AM

                  I have tried Magnolia's several times. The hand crafted beers are great the food..... is quite a different story. In my opinion it is just OK but for what you get it's a bit pricey. A hamburger with cheese and bacon is $16 Like I say go for a cold beer and eat somewhere else.

                3. w
                  weem RE: MyrnEats May 19, 2008 08:17 PM

                  Farmer Brown might work.

                  Farmer Brown
                  25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: weem
                    Robert Lauriston RE: weem May 20, 2008 08:35 AM

                    Second Farmer Brown. It's a longtime dive bar that's been taken upscale.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      Chuckles the Clone RE: Robert Lauriston May 21, 2008 08:15 AM

                      Longtime dive bar??? Not to disagree with the actual recommendation, and maybe I'm confused, but before it was Farmer Brown didn't it spent 20 minutes as an odd "fusion" place who's name I forget and before that it was the pretty high-end Belon since about 1999 which opened a year or so after the total gutting and renovation of the Hotel Metropolis which, prior to renovation, had been boarded up and empty for like ten years?

                      It's possible there had once been a dive bar on the premises though not in anything like the current configuration.

                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                        Robert Lauriston RE: Chuckles the Clone May 21, 2008 09:31 AM

                        The place was a hofbrau / dive bar for generations. I think it was latterly called the Brauhaus. Enough of the old details (e.g. the floor, the door to the hotel lobby) remain that I forgot about its brief dot-com era transformation.

                  2. m
                    Mick Ruthven RE: MyrnEats May 20, 2008 05:36 AM

                    No one has yet mentioned Zuni or Nopa, so I will. Both very good bars and very good food. You'll find lot of info on them here by searching.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Mick Ruthven
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Mick Ruthven May 20, 2008 08:36 AM

                      Only problem with Zuni is that it's often so packed that you can get near the bar, and if you want dinner without a reservation you might have to wait for an hour.

                    2. Paul H RE: MyrnEats May 20, 2008 08:20 AM

                      There are a lot of posts here about restaurants that have bars, but very few that list bars that have good food. I am beginning to think that there is a paucity of such establishments in San Francisco. Every other city in the U.S. would be teeming with bars near the baseball park.

                      Unfortunately, I don't have any answers; I only have questions:

                      1. Zeke's Sports Bar at 3rd & Brannan - any food? any good?
                      2. The Hotel Utah at 4th & Bryant - how is the food these days?
                      3. Isn't there a bar at 3rd & King next to the doughnut place? O'Neill's Irish Pub?
                      4. Is 330 Rich a bar? Do they serve food?
                      5. On 2nd, how about 21st Amendment & Nova?
                      6. How about Kate O'Briens Irish Bar & Grill on Howard near 2nd?
                      7. Thirsty Bear was already mentioned, but isn't it the prototypical bar with food in the area?

                      I lean much more towards French Bistros when I eat out, but I'm curious about these neighborhood joints. Anyone care to fill in the blanks?

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Paul H
                        Robert Lauriston RE: Paul H May 20, 2008 08:42 AM

                        21st Amendment's a brewpub.

                        Hotel Utah is more of a live-music venue than a bar.

                        Thirsty Bear is a brewpub with Spanish food and a full bar. More of a restaurant than a bar.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          HungryGrayCat RE: Robert Lauriston May 20, 2008 09:47 AM

                          21st Amendment has a full bar. That said, it wouldn't be a special place for an out-of-towner.

                          I'd hoof it up to Perbacco.

                          1. re: HungryGrayCat
                            Xiao Yang RE: HungryGrayCat May 20, 2008 10:44 AM

                            The request was for a "fun" bar with good food, not a haute dining experience in a place that happens to have a bar. From all I've heard, as good as the food may be at Perbacco, I don't think it's ever been characterized as a fun bar.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang
                              Robert Lauriston RE: Xiao Yang May 20, 2008 11:23 AM

                              The bar at Perbacco is lovely and elegant. The crowd sometimes looks a bit like an Armani ad.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                Xiao Yang RE: Robert Lauriston May 20, 2008 11:30 AM

                                Armani-clad baseball fans post-game?

                                1. re: Xiao Yang
                                  HungryGrayCat RE: Xiao Yang May 20, 2008 12:59 PM

                                  I dunno. Based on the OP's request, I still think Perbacco would work.

                                  "I'd like to go to a good bar to relax, have some cocktails, dinner and experience what San Francisco has to offer."

                                  And he/she will have a "great SF experience" without "spending money on mediocre food."

                                  Bars that are traditional post game spots won't be very relaxing.

                                  1. re: HungryGrayCat
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: HungryGrayCat May 20, 2008 01:33 PM

                                    Two of the Giants' four day home games in June are on Sundays, when Perbacco is closed.

                                    The others are on Wednesdays. Perbacco's bar area is fairly small and not very relaxing when it's full, which I think it usually is on weeknights from 5ish on.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston
                            bbulkow RE: Robert Lauriston Mar 2, 2009 02:31 PM

                            M Lauriston is half right. I would categorize Hotel Utah as a bar that has music and serves food. Not a bad bar at all. The bar itself is ancient (ask about the bullet hole), and if you're there early you won't find any music, just liquor and light lunch, if you're there late-ish you can try telling the door guy you're just there to drink - you might slide in free, depending on how crowded, but he'll keep an eye on you. The mixed drinks and food tend toward the unexceptional.

                            Thirsty Bear has a huge bar/lounge area up front. I've been there for "industry mixers" where no one entered the restaurant. They dished me some decent margaritas. It's in the category of restaurant *and* bar. I consider the place OK on both fronts, but a little too glitzy for my taste, and the food's not quite good enough given the competition.

                            Why no bars near the ballpark? The plunked this ballpark down in an industrial area. The exact list of bars would depend on radius primarily.

                          3. re: Paul H
                            Windy RE: Paul H May 20, 2008 02:40 PM

                            I agree strongly. South of Market has plenty of good bars (83 Proof, John Colins, DaDa) without food. There are a fine number of restaurants that are happy to have you sit at the bar and drink wine and beer. Near the ballpark, I'd probably head to Local or District.

                            I wouldn't eat at any of the places above unless it was very late and there were no other options. O Neill's is a decent place for beer and well drinks.

                            330 Ritch just reopened so food might have improved, but you'd be better off splitting up the food and drink portions.

                            On the rest of this thread, Farmer Brown's the most promising option.

                            1. re: Paul H
                              Chuckles the Clone RE: Paul H May 21, 2008 08:27 AM

                              >> 1. Zeke's Sports Bar at 3rd & Brannan - any food? any good?

                              It's your standard, old fashioned bar. Many televisions tuned to sporting events. Generic selection of beer. Generic selection of patrons. Edible burger and fries.

                              >> 6. How about Kate O'Briens Irish Bar & Grill on Howard near 2nd?

                              The sort of place made for hanging out after work with the folks from the sales and marketing department. Fish and chips are salty but ok-ish. I wouldn't recommend it as a destination but if the folks from the sales and marketing department are heading here after work there's no real reason not to tag along.

                            2. Xiao Yang RE: MyrnEats May 20, 2008 08:51 AM

                              The Hi Dive close by the ballpark is another former dive gone a bit upscale.

                              Hi Dive
                              2 San Pier 28 1, Francisco, CA

                              1. Beach Chick RE: MyrnEats May 21, 2008 09:59 AM

                                Lefty O'Doul's is the best imo..
                                Across from the famed St. Francis Hotel in Union Square and its a baseball bar..along with piano bar too..great food but more smorgasboard type.
                                I have closed this place down more times than I can count and that included a lot of partying with the baseball players too..hee hee
                                Love the ballpark and you are going to have so much fun!

                                1. hot breath RE: MyrnEats May 21, 2008 02:06 PM

                                  On the more divey end, Red's Java House (Pier 30 - Bryant & Embarcadero) is definitely a San Francisco experience. It has basic inexpensive food (burgers, dogs, fish & chips) it is near the ballpark and has a patio with a view of the water. There is a bar, good margaritas and bloody marys. Great on a sunny day.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: hot breath
                                    MyrnEats RE: hot breath May 22, 2008 06:17 AM

                                    Well you've definitely all given me a lot of great recommendations and a lot to think about. I've got my research cut out for me. This will be on a Wednesday if that has any impact on any of these places.

                                    1. re: hot breath
                                      MyrnEats RE: hot breath May 22, 2008 06:22 AM

                                      Any other recommendations with a water view?

                                      1. re: MyrnEats
                                        Paul H RE: MyrnEats May 22, 2008 06:25 AM

                                        "Any other recommendations with a water view?"

                                        More fun than good, but it is mostly a bar, is a San Francisco experience and it certainly has a water view. (Now you have ANOTHER place to consider). Also, Red's Java House, above is right on the water.

                                        Ramp Restaurant
                                        855 Terry Francois St, San Francisco, CA 94158

                                        1. re: Paul H
                                          Robert Lauriston RE: Paul H May 22, 2008 08:52 AM

                                          What's the food like at the Ramp these days? I haven't been there in years.

                                    2. Robert Lauriston RE: MyrnEats Jun 15, 2009 01:11 PM

                                      We went to 21st Amendment after bailing on the opera simulcast at the ballpark (nowhere near enough concession stands open so the lines were insane) and the food was the best I've had there since Eddie Blyden left. Had a cup of chili that was surprisingly delicious, an absurdly overstuffed cubano sandwich, and a fun, spicy Buffalo chicken Caesar salad.

                                      21st Amendment Brewery Cafe
                                      563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        Chuckles the Clone RE: Robert Lauriston Jun 15, 2009 09:12 PM

                                        That's really good news! Because six months ago they had dropped from bad through
                                        "oh that's horrible send it back" and were well into the inedible joke stage.

                                        The beer's always good and the bar's a fun place, it would be great be able to eat
                                        there again.

                                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                                          bbulkow RE: Chuckles the Clone Jun 16, 2009 10:02 AM

                                          I've been there for lunch a couple times in the last year, seemed like its usual pretty-good bar fare. I don't have particular expectations about the place, so maybe I didn't notice any kind of awefulness.

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