The Top 10 Bars On San Francisco’s Mission Street

© Jeff Turner/Flickr
© Jeff Turner/Flickr
Photo of Sarah Dilbeck
9 February 2017

Known as ‘the heart of San Francisco’ for its semi-independent ‘city within a city’ feel, Mission Street is the city’s oldest settlement. Due to gentrification, displacement, and identity issues, the area is in a state of transformation. However, Mission Street continues to cultivate its roots while keeping up with the incoming nightlife crowds, to whom many bars such as the following cater.

The Royal Cuckoo

Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
The Royal Cuckoo
The Royal Cuckoo | © Sarah Dilbeck
In a dark church pew setting, The Royal Cuckoo serves up stiff cocktails. On Wednesday through Sunday nights, crowds are entertained by live music generated by organists or jazz musicians. The rest of the nights are kept alive by playing oldies. As if taking a trip back in time, it’s the perfect place to glug a Manhattan surrounded by red lighting and stuffed deer head decor. For a fancy throwback-themed night out, this family-run business is worth a visit.


Bar, Pub Grub, Irish, $$$
3300 Club
3300 Club | © Sarah Dilbeck
Tuesday Trivia nights, sports, and poetry readings, 3300 Club is a well-loved bar-restaurant in the neighborhood. Owner Jack Keane has kept the place up and running since the 1950s, attracting a mostly Gen X crowd that keeps the place alive. Staying true to its roots, the bar’s most widely acclaimed celebration is St. Patrick’s Day. Kick back and relax to the Irish bar’s jukebox for a good time.

The Knockout

Pub, Pub Grub
Featuring karaoke nights and rock n’ roll dance parties, the Knockout has been referred to as a ‘clubhouse for big kids’. Opened by brother’s dX and John Segura, the bar beams with their enthusiasm for funk and metal music, vintage monster movies, and good vibes. With a photo booth and video games, boredom isn’t an option at this place. Get in on the amusement and let your inner child run wild.

Makeout Room

Nightclub, Pub Grub
Adorned in shimmering disco balls suspended from the ceiling, the Makeout Room is a retro hot spot for people-watching and reasonably priced drinks. Check out their calendar for a number of literary events and live music performances. The venue offers an eccentric take on the nightlife experience. The spot is ideal if you’re in the mood to dance without the pressure to get dressed up.

Mission Bar

Bar, Pub Grub
Mission Bar
Mission Bar | © Sarah Dilbeck
Your typical neighborhood bar, you can count on Mission Bar for a relaxing evening where what you drink and what you say can stay between you and the bartender. Conveniently neighboring taquerias, your cure for the drunchies is right around the corner. The casual spot caters to the post-work drink crowd, as it is known to be on the quiet side. Grab a group of friends for good company and cheers.

Doc’s Clock

Bar, Pub Grub
Doc’s Clock
Doc’s Clock | © Sarah Dilbeck2050547
Presenting odd events such as ‘Barbie Mutilation Night’, Doc’s Clock is a peculiar spot. Owner Leticia Luna sustained the bar for the past 17 years; however, she will not be renewing the lease, which ends in the summer of 2017. Be sure to get the unique nightlife experience before it’s too late! Supplied with arcade games and offering a shuffleboard, the bar is a fitting environment to get weird.

El Techo

Bar, Restaurant, Pub Grub
El Techo
El Techo | © Sarah Dilbeck
A swanky Mission roof-top bar, El Techo is one of those treat-yo-self spots. Located on the top of the restaurant Lolinda, the bar-restaurant serves Latin American street food and fancy cocktails. Featured in the San Francisco Chronicle’s, ‘Bay Area Brunch Spots Worth Your Time’, the place is truly eclectic. Get in on the fun for drinks with an amazing view.

Virgil’s Sea Room

Bar, Pub Grub
Virgil’s Sea Room
Virgil’s Sea Room | © Sarah Dilbeck
Nautical themed with an expansive patio, Virgil’s Sea Room is a happening place for all kinds of socializing. Owner Tom Temprano opened the chill neighborhood bar to accommodate mellow night owls. Named after the Roman poet, the bar upholds a low-key vibe. Local celebrities inspire the names of their cocktails such as Dick Vivian and Frank Chu. For more local celebrity names and free condoms, dip your hand in the several trophies that line the area.

St Mary’s Pub

Bar, Pub, Pub Grub
St. Mary’s Pub, San Francisco
St. Mary’s Pub, San Francisco | © Beatrice Murch/Flickr
Established in 1948, St Mary’s Pub is advertised as ‘the holiest place to fall from grace’. Recently renovated, the interior has been thoroughly updated since it’s opening. Popular for its Blood Mary Saturdays, customers enjoy the ambiance in red booths near a popcorn and pinball machine. Let the mischievousness of St. Mary’s save your soul.

El Rio

Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Pub Grub
Regular sightings of indie artist and producer Chazwick Bradley Bundick, stage name ‘Toro Y Moi’, have been observed at El Rio. The quaint bar is a crowd-pleaser amongst numerous locals with their Monday salsa nights and karaoke. Known as the ‘neighborhood dive bar’, the expansive outside area features occasional music events excellent for chill dancing with beers in hand. If you’re a fan of spontaneous underground celebrity sightings, maybe you’ll have a run-in worth recalling.

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