Ireland’s 32 defies easy description. Yes, it’s as Irish as an Irish bar gets — there’s Guinness on tap, Irish breakfast on the weekends, and Sinn Féin banners covering the walls of the two-storey joint. However, it’s also strangely devoted to all things Americana. Ireland’s 32 hosts the city’s ‘brewskee-ball’ league, books ’90s cover bands, and displays Splash Brothers posters along with those expressing Irish nationalism. Strange though it may be, Ireland’s 32 is always lively, and with cheap drinks at happy hour (2-8 pm Monday-Friday), who really cares?
The Hearth is a rare dive — it manages to be welcoming without sacrificing its scruffy charm. The neighborhood crowd embodies the bar’s motto, ‘No Whiners, No Website, Just Booze’. It takes full advantage of the cheap prices, strong cocktails, and decent — for a dive bar — beer selection. Sure, the folks are a little rough around the edges, but they’re chatty and always happy to shoot pool or throw darts. Bartender ‘Momma’ Texie makes newcomers feel like regulars, and regulars feel like family. She’s quick to learn your name and quicker to top off your drink.
Nowadays, when you hear ‘San Francisco cocktail bar’ you might imagine an aloof bartender with a waxed mustache mixing Angostura bitters and small-batch gin in a basement bar. ‘Would You Believe? Cocktails’ is everything opposite. Nothing pretentious, just cheap cocktails packed with as much booze as can be reasonably masked with fruity mixer. They also offer Margarita fishbowls and cheap Thursday night shots for college students, who, for obvious reasons, are drawn like party moths to the flame. A pool table and TVs on all sides also make Would You Believe? a chill early evening hangout.
Right now waxed-mustached bartenders are probably tripping over each other to point out that The Blarney Stone is technically just west of the Inner Richmond. Well, they can suck Campari because The Blarney Stone is an awesome Irish sports bar and it’s making the list. If you ever suspect that the Inner Richmond bar scene has gone dead — heads up, it’s gameday and everyone’s at The Blarney Stone. The joint is raucous when Bay Area teams play and absolute bedlam during playoffs. Show up early for a seat, but with cheap pints during games, standing near the bar is a solid option, t
Serious beer drinkers know few greater sensations than the weight of a full stein in hand. Such is the appeal of Steins, a German bar offering a healthy list of European and American beers by the liter. Yes, by the liter. For those who can’t drink like an Übermensch, there’s .5 liter and .3 liter options for all beers. Steins also offers German and American appetizers, entrées, and restaurant seating. It’s a family place — owned and operated by the Steiner family. So expect to see kids, especially on gameday, and leave your inner frat boy at home.
True to its name, this upscale wine bar is an affront to the dive scene surrounding it. High Treason feels more like opening night at an art installation. Modern art hangs on high walls illuminated by a dim ceiling light. Couples and small groups converse over cheese and charcuterie, slowly sipping wine. With most glasses relatively expensive, this isn’t wine for chugging. High Treason also offers more beers, ciders, sakes, and sherries than you can shake a stick at. Don’t miss Monday nights when a guest wine expert curates the menu as well as the music.
With two stages and no genre bias, Neck of the Woods is the Inner Richmond’s best venue for live music with a side of cocktails. The bar has showcased once-unknown hometown heroes like Huey Lewis, Third Eye Blind, and Train, as well as legends Etta James and John Lee Hooker. If you think you’re the next big act, lay it out at Tuesday’s karaoke night or Wednesday’s open mic night. On select Saturday nights, you can witness Russian karaoke, and you totally should—at least once.
The 540 Club is a spontaneous and quirky little dive, easily recognizable by the iconic pink elephant on its marquee. The bar opens at 11am and remains a chill spot throughout the day. The patio seating and dog-friendly policy lure passersby in for a beer on sunny days. By dusk, the 540 Club begins to fill with curious characters like journalist and radio DJ Damin Esper, who runs Sunday night music trivia. Food truck chefs also set up shop right on the patio.
The Inner Richmond’s best bar food and craft beer selection fall under one roof. Richmond Republic Draught House offers a rotating 24-draught beer menu that’s well-balanced between big-names like Heretic and local gems like Palo Alto Brewing Company’s Tart Deco. Their food is standard American — fried appetizers, sandwich melts, and salads — but well executed. Richmond Republic Draught House also offers several large televisions, pool tables, and a ‘Mug Club’. Members of this can enjoy a free beer on Tuesdays, never-ending happy hour rates, and a sweet mug to bring to club functions.
Despite its name, The Bitter End is among the best bets for young singles looking for a happy ending. The hangout is known for its pub food, Tuesday night trivia, and a two-storey layout. The ground floor features a well-kept bar — complete with 19 beers on tap — and table seating. A second-floor billiards loft adjoins with a wooden catwalk that runs along the walls — perfect for people watching. Bonus: look for the creepy suit of armor on the catwalk, it guards one the bar’s several dimly lit make-out nooks.