The Classiest Wine Bars In San Francisco

Rebecca Wishnia

Whether you are heading to a Friday night show or simply going home from work, a wine bar is a great place to unwind with a drink and a small plate. Here are some must-see wine bars, all conveniently located near the center of San Francisco and accessible by MUNI and BART.

Noir Lounge

1. Noir Lounge

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, American

Fig & Thistle
Courtesy of Fig & Thistle
Noir Lounge is a speakeasy-style bar located in the Hayes Valley, near most of the city’s major entertainment venues. The bar offers over a dozen wines by the glass. Noir boasts a larger beer selection than its neighbors, in addition to outstanding cocktails. This generous selection makes up for the somewhat slow service on weekends. The bar screens classic movies with closed captioning, so there’s never a dull moment while waiting for drinks, and the large floor plan can easily accommodate larger parties.

2. Fig & Thistle

Bar, Pub Grub, American

Also in the Hayes Valley, Fig & Thistle is an intimate bar with a romantic air. The bar comfortably seats around 30 people, and is perfect for dates and small parties, there are no televisions here. The friendly and knowledgeable staff members are always happy to help patrons choose the right wine, and the service is consistently fast. For non-wine lovers, Fig & Thistle also offers a modest selection of bottled beers from local breweries, including Anderson Valley, Stone, and Golden State Cider. Although this bar doesn’t have a happy hour deal, the generous pours make it well worth a visit. Additionally, Fig & Thistle recently teamed up with Postmates to offer delivery services, the current menu includes a selection of nine bottles.

3. Blush!

Bar, Wine Bar, Pub Grub

Blush Wine Bar
© torbakhopper/Flickr
Located in the heart of the Castro, Blush! is a spacious bar that is ideal for both drop-ins and private parties. The bar offers around two dozen wines by the glass, in addition to a large bottle selection. Blush! also has a small but well-curated selection of beers on tap, currently including the outstanding Première Dubble Trappist by Chimay. The food, mostly small plates, is simple but tasty. It’s best to visit this bar during happy hour, from 4 to 6 on weekdays, when all wines are 50% off. Blush! also hosts a weekend brunch, where the team serves reasonably priced coffee from their neighbors at The Castro Coffee Company.

4. L’emigrante

Bar, Bistro, Wine Bar, Pub Grub

Established in 2014, L’emigrante bills itself as the most affordable wine bar in the city. During happy hour, this assertion may well be true. The food menu offers a variety of both small and large plates; the bruschetta combination is a highlight. And the sandwiches, not usually a reason to dine out, are exceptional. The bar hosts seating on two levels, and there are no televisions, so the noise level never inhibits conversation. What makes L’emigrante truly noteworthy, however, is its staff, who are among the friendliest in the city. Plus, it’s located within minutes of the 16th and Mission BART Station.

5. Etcetera Wine Bar

Bar, Wine Bar, Pub Grub, American

Etcetera offers one of the best happy hour deals in the city, a glass of wine plus a small plate from the tapas menu, for only $10. Every dish is divine, and the famous flammeküeche, French pizza, comes in eight varieties, including a vegan option. Most importantly, Etcetera has an expansive wine menu, including over three dozen wines by the glass. The bar’s décor, of antique maps and velvet upholstery, the owner hails from Alsace, France, creates a charming, old-world feel. And though Etcetera seats over 50 people, it retains a warm and homey atmosphere.

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