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Dec 5, 2008 09:27 AM

Non-touristy, cheap bars with good beer selection in the city?


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  1. What does cheap mean to you? What does a good beer selection mean to you?

    1. Toronado. Large, very fresh beer selection and during the long "happy hour" it's the cheapest place in the city to drink good beer. That's $1 off everything between opening and 6 pm, which takes beers like Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Speakeasy and many others down to $3.

      Toronado Pub
      547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA

      6 Replies
      1. re: Joan Kureczka

        Thanks Joan!

        "What does cheap mean to you? What does a good beer selection mean to you?"

        Cheap: $3.50 -$4 or less
        Good beer selection: Large selection of microbrews and imports on tap

        1. re: xxvertigo00

          First of all, I'd say stay south of market and 100 yards away from the water and you'll never see a tourist in a bar.

          Second, I don't know anywhere you can get fresh local brews or belgians at $3.50 a pint (non-happy-hour). Somewhere I got a pint recently for $3.50 and I was shocked - might have been at Marvin Gardens on the Peninsula but their beer selection is a little ragged.

          Third, Joan's description doesn't really do justice to Toronado, which has an *exceptional* range of beers from the local to the belgian and back again. They have Russian River Brewing on *5* taps, for pete's sake. It's a little further along the curve than anchor and sierra nevada and speakeasy - it's nearly hallowed ground. It's also loud, I don't really enjoy drinking there, although I enjoy *what* I drink there, if you get the difference. I don't remember it being cheap, because when I'm spasming uncontrollably due to the exceptional taste and freshness of the beer I don't think too much about the price. I remember handing over small fistfuls of cash because I couldn't hear the barperson, smiling all the while, and getting some kind of change. Comparing happy hour prices isn't exactly fair. I mean, if you type 'san francisco beer' into google the number two hit is Toronado.

          A great only-in-SF scene is Zietgeist on a warm day, or Lucky 13 on a cool day. I don't think of either one as pricey or particularly cheap - they are fresh and fun. $5/pint for the good stuff is kind of where it's at these days - I paid $4.50 for a hoegaarten this evening at my favorite semi-dive.

          Just about every random bar in SF has two or three taps of something good and local. Maybe it's racer 5, maybe it's speakeasy, maybe it's lagunitas. The place I was at tonight was speakeasy, trumer pils, hoegaarden, and something else. And, you know, with 4 taps like that, I don't need a huge selection.

          I mean, Tayor's Refresher in the ferry building has 6 taps - Steam, Sierra Nevada, Anderson Valley, Lagunitas, Trumer Pils, Napa Smith. And they're just an upscale burger joint. They also don't price their pints on the menu, but a bottle of corona is $4.50, so I can't imagine a pint is under $5.

          There was a good thread on dive bars about 6 months back, give it a search.

          1. re: bbulkow

            thank you bbulkow, for your detailed suggestions and descriptions! I have been to Tornado before and l LOVE that place! I was curious whether there were other bars like that in the city. I will definitely check out either Zietgiest or Lucky 13, when I am there this weekend.

            1. re: bbulkow

              Taylor's Refresher is north of Market, less than 100 Yards from the water and a tourist trap, so of course it's overpriced. Anyway, the majority of hotel rooms added in the last 20 years or so (think Intercontinental, Marriott, W, St. Regis, etc.) are South of Market and more than 100 yards from the Bay. Where do those guys drink?

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                OP: if you'd already been to the toranado and were looking for something similar, why not ask that?
                Here's the definitive dive bar post:

                Xiao, yes, I was trying to point out that "good beer selection", in SF, should mean more than a tap of speakeasy. The OP was rather terse in what they were looking for. Taylor's is half tourist, half high priced office lunch, but it certainly fills my geographical distinction for high possible tourist ratio.

                Regrettably, Lucky13 is also on the north side of market street, but the real geography is more complicated - maybe Tourist is a quarter mile from Union Square + 300 yards from water. What do you think?

                As to where the the people in those new big hotels drink --- I don't know, really. At restaurants, at the hotel bar, and maybe they're not drinkers. I know I don't go to bars much when I'm traveling.

          2. re: Joan Kureczka

            Toronado probably has the largest selection of beers on tap in the city.

            The Page and Place Pigalle could both also fit your requirements.

          3. The bus stop, in cow hollow. Shouldn't pay more than $5 for any beer, anywhere.

            1. Check out McTeague's on Polk Street - great selection of beer, most $4 a pint or $3 at happy hour (Mon - Fri from noon to 7pm)

              1. Check out Broken Record. The pints are 4 dollars (or 2 dollars for PBR) they have a fairly good selection of beers- mostly local microbrews, and it's a good neighborhood vibe. They also have a wide selection of whiskey and a wild game sausage menu if that's your thing. Only down side for most people is that it's way out in excelsior.

                2 Replies
                1. re: AKmac


                  Broken Record
                  1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: AKmac

                    I believe there's a new couple in charge of the kitchen - recently they had Texas Queso and bacon wrapped corn dogs on the menu. Not sure how much is "permanent" or a planned experiment.