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The Top 10 Bars In Civic Center, San Francisco
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The Top 10 Bars In Civic Center, San Francisco

Picture of Deanna Morgado
Updated: 9 February 2017
Although Civic Center is the largest government and cultural institution in San Francisco, there’s more to do than just gaze up in awe at the gargantuan Civic Center Plaza and United Nations Plaza. A few blocks north of the intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue, Civic Center is surrounded by a number of bars and nightlife hot spots that are as entertaining as they are diverse. From lounges to dive bars, here are 10 of the best bars that can all be found around Civic Center.
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Golden Gate Tap Room

Golden Gate Tap Room features one bar on each of its two floors, which offer over 100 beers as well as a variety of other drink and food choices — not to mention a number of game hall classics such as Skee-ball, Foosball, shuffleboard, pool tables, air hockey, and other arcade games. The sports fans can enjoy over 20 screens, some so big that they talk up half a wall, that show live sports events. Golden Gate Tap Room also offers reservations to rent the venue for events and large groups for company parties, birthday parties and weddings. As for groups of under 20 people, reservations for the pool table sections are available, too.

Golden Gate Tap Room, 449 Powell St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 677 9999

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The Beer Hall

Located right across the street from Twitter, The Beer Hall not only offers 20 beers, four wines, and cider on tap but also offers the option to buy bottles of beer to-go at a 20% discount. The atmosphere at The Beer Hall is intimate, warm, and casual. It’s impossible to be bored with such a vast selection of beer. Every on-tap option is displayed over a large TV-screen menu just above the bar. The bartenders are friendly and helpful when it comes to choosing from all the options. Beer release parties and events are also held at least a few times a month when a new beer is added to the tap or to the overall beer collection.

The Beer Hall, 1 Polk St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 800 7416

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HotSpot is a dive bar that offers two floors, a pool table and old school video games, a vast and diverse drinks selection, and the option to buy some scratchers along with that drink. There are also karaoke nights, discount drinks and scratcher specials, and an all around relaxed atmosphere. A well-known special that’s offered at HotSpot is one beer, one shot, and one scratcher for a total of five dollars. HotSpot keeps the music nights diverse with a juke box most nights, or a DJ performing on others.

HotSpot, 1414 Market St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 355 9800

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Sugar Lounge

Sugar Lounge manages to keep the environment chic yet casual. With Happy Hour specials that change on the daily and can be paired with tasty, complimentary appetizers, there is always something new to try. Mini-candy bars are placed for guests at the ‘sweetest bar and lounge in Hayes Valley, San Francisco.’ Outside the Happy Hour selection, there are a number of signature cocktails, beer, and other beverage options to choose from. If there’s a big game on, three different TV screens allow the sports fans to enjoy it. Bottle service, catering, and a hosted bar are offered for any private events at a reasonable rate.

Sugar Lounge, 377 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 255 7144

Bourbon & Branch

Located at the same address of an alcohol smuggling location during Prohibition, Bourbon & Branch apes the Prohibition era, when both the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal. This bar is so committed to its Speakeasy theme that there are ‘House Rules,’ one of which is to literally speak easy. One of the three drinking rooms is even a hidden location for tasting within Bourbon & Branch that is password protected. Hand-crafted cocktails are offered at the main bar with a variety of hand-numbered selections. There are even hands-on cocktail classes offered at The Beverage Academy inside. Corporate and private event reservations are offered, for one area or the whole venue.

Bourbon & Branch, 501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 346 1735

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The Empire Room

The Empire Room, an 8,000-square-foot space, was formerly the famous Stars and Trader Vic’s and encompasses two separate lounge areas as well as a VIP room. The first lounge area claims to be one of longest bars in San Francisco and also offers craft cocktails and bottle service. For those who desire a cozier atmosphere with quiet conversation, there is the Bespoke Cocktail Parlor. This ‘unique drinking den’ allows guests to speak to the Mixologist behind the bar upon arrival in order to insure the best drink is made for them based on taste and preference. The Empire Room also offers private and corporate room rentals for product launches, holiday parties, and even weddings.

The Empire Room, 555 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 979 3031

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Harry Harrington’s Pub

Love dive bars? Harry Harrington’s Pub might just be a perfect fit, from the jukebox to the very reasonably priced drinks. Under new ownership since early 2015, there’s been subtle yet significant upgrades to this bar, though the name has been Harry Harrington’s Pub since 1940. Locals will gush about the Irish pub’s friendly bartenders and the abundance of characters that wander through the door. Harry Harrington’s Pub is a comfortable, low-key, and incredibly casual bar. How wrong can the night go when you’ve got a good drink along with tasty food, a friendly atmosphere, and a jukebox playing some good tunes?

Harry Harrington’s Pub, 460 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 775 1150

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Smuggler’s Cove

Smuggler’s Cove takes the tiki-themed bar one step further into the realm of pirates. The un-ostentatious, black-door entrance gives no hint as to what awaits inside, allowing guests to feel as though they’ve discovered a secret location. There are two floors decorated to combine the look of a Caribbean island and a pirate ship. There are two bars on either floor, both equal in intimate and welcoming vibes. This is the place for rum lovers and mixology enthusiasts. Smuggler’s Cove has quite the cocktail menu, and the overall presentation of the drinks is aesthetically pleasing. The high level of coziness might not be ideal for very large groups, but this is still one of the must-visit establishments in San Francisco.

Smuggler’s Cove, 650 Gough St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 869 1900

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Another hidden bar (the entrance is actually in an alley), Oddjob is nothing less than a little gem. The space actually houses two separate bars. The main bar has a craft cocktail menu with intricate ingredients, but there’s also a second, trendy SRO (Standing Room Only) bar in the back, where the bartenders will listen to drink preferences and fully apply them to the making of fully customized cocktails. The bartenders will even go as far as smoking the drink. The drinks are on the pricier side, but the involved concoctions are worth it. It’s not normally too crowded, so finding seating isn’t typically an issue. Oddjob is a well rounded cocktail bar that will supply a genuinely fun and interactive experience.

Oddjob, 1337 Mission St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 650 787 2432

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Emperor Norton’s Boozeland

This classic dive bar is just as awesome as its name. There’s not only a bar with plenty of space and a lovely outdoor patio, but also a game area featuring a purple pool table, a shuffleboard, and an old school gaming console. With about ten beers on tap and the fact that Emperor Norton’s Boozeland opens at noon seven days a week, it’s the perfect place to kick off the afternoon. The cocktail napkins even have fun trivia on them. Just make sure you bring cash. ENB does not accept plastic at all; however, the in-house ATM will happily take your card for a small fee.

Emperor Norton’s Boozeland, 510 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 926 8118