Old Ship Saloon
The Old Ship Saloon has stood on the corner of Pacific Street since it was built atop a beached three-mast sailing ship in the late 1800s when the area was landfilled. Always hopping with varied crowds in the evenings, the daytime vibe is quieter and cooler. Brick walls, a polished bar counter, and sticky floors tell the story. Good pub-style food and a superb beer selection are the stock in trade, while the cocktails are traditional.
Old Ship Saloon, 298 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 788 2222
Solid wood-paneled walls, crisp white aproned barkeeps, and a long polished solid counter punctuated with brass beer pulls spell out an awesome bar. The grub here is on the posh side, tasty and reasonable; the burgers are superb. A weekday pub, they’re dark weekends; the Royal Exchange is open from 11am to 11pm, winging it on Friday nights until their last customers leave. There’s something naughty about spending the afternoon at the Exchange with a handcrafted Firestone 805 lager beer.
Royal Exchange, 301 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA, USA +1 415 956 1710
Harrington’s Bar and Grill
The solid oak door at the portal to Harrington’s Bar and Grill speaks of time spent serving patrons Old Bushmills and Irish stouts with their corned beef and cabbage, since it opened in 1935. Times have changed; there is probably not as many old sea captains on leave in the old Commercial area. But characters abound in this truly authentic atmosphere-driven Irish pub. A must on St. Patrick’s Day.
Harrington’s Bar and Grill, 245 Front Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 392 7595
Sam’s Grill and Seafood Restaurant
The private partitioned and curtained booths at Sam’s Grill and Seafood Restaurant bring The Maltese Falcon to mind. The small and intimate bar counter patinaed by the thousands of drinks poured since, or perhaps even before it opened with the sibilant moniker, Zembolich and Zenovich, serving oyster dishes in 1930. A year later, the hangout – where the pugilist Jack Dempsey discussed boxing – became Sam’s Seafood Grotto. Sam’s retains a moody vibe with dark lacquered oak walls, sconces, and polished brass with a no-nonsense menu serving fried filet of sole and prawn salads. Bring a healthy appetite and grab a martini, sample their heady red wines, and enjoy the great service – Sam’s is highly rated by habitués and visitors alike.
The Irish Bank
Into the close, through the outside seating area, and hello Ireland. The Irish Bank would be kitschy if it weren’t so folksy, like a seaside watering hole in Donegal. Powers, Jameson, Guinness, and Harp are the beverages that tickle the tongue in this intimate bar. Bric-a-brac covers the walls, which are adorned with enamel road signs, newspaper photographs of President Kennedy, and cigarette ads are fun to take a gander at in this real pub that serves shepherd’s pie and Irish beef stew.
The Irish Bank, 10 Mark Lane, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 788 7152
There’s nothing glamorous about Murphy’s Pub. That’s what makes it great. You could pick it up and drop it next to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, or reassemble it next to Tammany Hall. It’s a brassy and low key neighborhood bar that serves off-duty office workers and local hotel employees. A cool hang for an afternoon.
Murphy’s Pub, 217 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 693 9588
The Lark Bar
When new owners took over Dave’s and renamed it The Lark Bar on New Year’s Eve, well, 2016 opened flat. But true to their word, the veritable bar hasn’t changed one iota. They still serve chili and hot dogs with hard-nosed cocktails and a large tap beer selection. However, they spic-and-spanned the joint, soaping away many years of grease and nicotine. Clean is nice. So are the bar staff. The bar stays open late into the night. Industrial strength chill atmosphere with drinks cloaked in conversation.
The Lark Bar, 29 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 952 7504