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Best Food at (Non Fancy) Bars in San Francisco

  • pane May 21, 2012 11:58 AM
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One positive outcome of the pop-up and food truck craze has been that it's been easier to access decent food in bars that are not also restaurants. There are also an increasing number of symbiotic relationships between bars and nearby cafes that offer delivery or pick-up arrangements. I'm always on the lookout for a place that has good food, decent drinks and is an easy spot for my friends to grab an affordable bite while we hang out and chat.

These are the best places I've found lately:

Dear Mom/rotating pop-up (calendar: http://dearmomsf.tumblr.com/popups) [16th and Folsom, Mission District
]This bar has a built-in kitchen and a rotating series of pop-ups, including Chez Spencer. We visited on a Sunday afternoon and split a decent steak sandwich and an excellent small farm-sourced salad from a new pop-up (not Spencer, can't remember the name). They also have a sushi pop-up.

500 Club/Clare's Deli and Late Night Kitchen [500 Guerrero, Mission District]
Clare's is on the same block (maybe next door) to 500 Club and delivers there at night; there are menus on the bar tables. I got a daily special: a Greek chicken wrap that impressed me in its attention to detail. Nice feta and pickles, thinly sliced English cucumbers, lots of peppers and a spinach wrap. Healthier options than usual carb- and meat-heavy bar food.

City Beer Store/Citizen's Band [Folsom Street between 7th and 8th, SOMA]
Not a pop-up or truck, but Citizen's Band now has a pick-up arrangement with City Beer Store. You order from a menu of sausages at City Beer, the bartender calls it in, then you go to Citizen's Band to fetch it about 10 minutes later. Some sausages (like molasses sage and kielbasa) are house-made at Citizen's Band, others are purchased. I liked the kielbasa; I didn't think the molasses sage was very balanced. Buns from Pinkies Bakery on the same block.

Terroir/whatever is outside [Folsom St between 7th and 8th, SOMA]
Not quite a dive bar, though there are some affordable glasses of idiosyncratic wines. I've had a pizza grilled on the sidewalk outside and the Spencer truck used to park here (but it sounds like doesn't anymore).

Any other good ones I'm missing?

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  1. Broken Record for sure.

    http://www.brokenrecordsanfrancisco.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: Civil Bear

      Dark Horse Inn is right next door. I have not heard any mention of it here, but a friend took us there recently and we enjoyed the meal. Good burgers. Excellent value. Maybe not quite as interesting as Broken Record, but good food and definitely non-fancy bar with a good selection of beers on tap.

      1. re: Civil Bear

        I second broken record, those crazy sausages are awesome!

      2. The Orbit Room at Market & Laguna started taking their food offerings more seriously a few months back, even adding a pizza oven. I haven't tried it yet but am curious.

        http://www.7x7.com/eat-drink/orbit-ro...

        3 Replies
        1. re: Frosty Melon

          Yes! I forgot about Orbit Room--that's close to where we live, so I've been a couple times. Their pizza is pretty good and the pizza maker is super friendly. I liked the mushroom pizza, with loads of sliced mushrooms and a solid crust.

          Not good: Club Deluxe pizza in the Upper Haight. Toaster quality crust, and at $20 per pie, unreasonably expensive for the quality. I looked up the Pizzeria Delfina menu while there, because I thought I must be crazy, but no--PD pizzas were $5 - $7 cheaper for a better quality product in a nicer setting. Good greyhound though.

          1. re: pane

            Has anyone had a good pizza there recently? I ate one in December that was quite good but the quality didn't replicate in April

            1. re: hyperbowler

              Had a pesto pie a couple weeks ago (from the specials board, not the printed menu). That was my first time there, so I didn't have a baseline, but I was happy with it.

              Side note: although the bar is cash only, they do take credit cards for the pizza.

        2. I like The Attic and El Farralito. They don't have an arrangement, but they don't mind me bringing in food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bbulkow

            Ah, for the seperate bar/food establishment combo, then Rosamunde Sausage Grill and Toronado Pub next door must be mentioned. The Tuesday cheeseburgers at Rosamunde are legendary, and the beer selection at Toronado ain't too bad either!

          2. broken record, without a doubt

            1. The Doctor's Lounge in the Excelsior--newly expanded dinner menu, definitely non-fancy bar.

              2 Replies
              1. re: BAnders

                Fat Alley provides the dinner service at The Doctor's Lounge (aka DRs Lounge) Tuesday through Friday. Wish it would post a menu.
                http://www.fatalleyfoods.com/

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  They must have heard your wish....

                  http://www.fatalleyfoods.com/storage/...

              2. Hotel Utah has above average pub grub and my old favorite is the fish n chips at the Edinburgh Castle.

                1 Reply
                1. re: trespinero

                  Old Chelsea closed, do the fish and chips seem about the same?

                2. Vinyl Wine Bar on Divis.

                  1. Dont for get the Rosemunde grill in the mission ...get your beer and sausage in one place ...http://rosamundesausagegrill.com/miss...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: luv2putt

                      In that vein I'll have to throw Underdogs on Geary Blvd for their beer and fish taco selection.

                      Also on Geary Blvd is Pig & Whistle for fish & chips.

                    2. Used to like Liverpool Lil's but it's been a year or so since my last visit.