The Top 10 Bars in the Mission, San Francisco

San Francisco, California, USA.
San Francisco, California, USA. | © Simone Anne / Culture Trip
Daisy Barringer

The Mission has more bars than any other neighborhood in San Francisco and features one of the most diverse selections.

From dive bars to craft beer bars to fancy cocktail spots, the Mission has the liveliest nightlife and is always serving up something for everyone. And luckily the neighborhood is so walkable that it makes it easy to hop around to various locations throughout the night. No matter where you end up, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy with your choice, but if you want your happiness to be practically guaranteed, look no further than these 10 watering holes.

1. ABV

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American

ABV calls itself a “neighborhood bar,” but thanks to its quality cocktail menu and crave-worthy bar bites, this spot fills up with people from all over who are looking for a food and drink-centric experience without a lot of bells and whistles. The simple but creative drinks are made with just three or four ingredients and organized by spirit on the menu (including some 0% ABV options for those who don’t wish to imbibe), and the street food-esque atmosphere (dishes are served without utensils) is sophisticated, but approachable. Highlights in that realm include the burger, the Japanese “tater tots,” and the meat and cheese boards.

2. The Beehive

Bar, Cocktail Bar, American

Step back in time at this ’60s-inspired cocktail bar with mid-century charm and just the right amount of kitsch. The star at The Beehive is the specialty cocktails in retro glassware, but a close second are the elevated takes on cocktail party favorites from back in the day. Think Swedish meatballs, pigs in a blanket, and both cheese andchocolate fondue. The Beehive has three distinct spaces, including a front bar that is perfect for people watching, a dining area with views into the kitchen, and a back lounge that’s ideal for groups or a cozy date.

3. Bon Voyage

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Chinese, Dim Sum

It’s no surprise that Bon Voyage, a bar and restaurant from the guys behind SF’s beloved Trick Dog, was an instant favorite when it opened its doors. The two-story bar on Valencia Street showcases vintage treasures from around the world, including wooden zebras, giraffes, and other exotic animals, as well as an enormous disco ball that hangs from the ceiling. The cocktail menu also draws inspiration from Africa and Asia and feels very tropical without being a tiki bar. The menu of Chinese food showcases classic favorites, like dumplings, potstickers, and kung pao chicken. All of the dishes are packed with flavor and, best of all, served every night until 2am.

4. The Lazy Bear Den

Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, American

If the $300 tasting menu at Lazy Bear is a little too steep for your eating and drinking budget, don’t fret. At 9.30pm, after all of the ticketed diners go downstairs for the second part of their “modern American dinner party,” the upstairs mezzanine converts to The Lazy Bear Den. This so-called den is a cozy lounge where anyone can partake in the phenomenal wine selection of over 1200 labels, enjoy produce-driven cocktails, and munch on very reasonably priced nostalgic snacks, like warm buttermilk biscuits served with country ham and an apricot jam butter. Reservations are highly recommended. New reservations are released day-of at 4pm, so be sure to check back if you don’t get in on the first try.

5. El Techo

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican

San Francisco doesn’t offer many rooftop drinking options, which means there’s often a wait to get into this popular patio bar. The venue is especially crowded on sunny afternoons when everyone has the same brilliant idea to celebrate the warm weather with pitches of margaritas and views of downtown. Don’t think of El Techo as just a warm weather destination though. Thanks to wind screens and heat lamps, it’s a comfortable place to sip drinks and enjoy Latin American street food all year round.

6. 500 Club

Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

The Mission is home to a slew of killer dive bars, but the 500 Club is the most special because there’s not really anything special about it at all (save for the neon marquee with a gigantic martini that beckons imbibers with its glow). This is the bar you go to for no-frills drinks and cold beers, prices you can afford, a diverse crowd that contains at least one of every SF stereotype (at least on the weekends), a good jukebox, and one of those fly by the seat of your pants nights you’ll somehow end up talking about for years to come.

7. The Monk’s Kettle

Bar, Charcuterie, Gastropub, American

The Monk’s Kettle is one of SF’s most outstanding beer bars with 28 rotating beers on tap, one cask engine, and 150+ bottles. But it’s also top-notch because the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and actually excited to walk you through the wide range of styles in order to help you find a beer you’ll truly enjoy. The cozy tavern also serves elevated American pub fare, which is available late night on the weekend for those looking for some delicious sustenance to pair with their pint.

8. Trick Dog

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, American

Trick Dog took home the “World’s Best Cocktail Menu” title at the Spirited Awards in 2017 and has been named one of the “World’s Best 50 Bars” every year since 2014 (it opened in 2013). But despite all of the love it gets from the industry, the bar never feels pretentious or like it’s trying too hard. Which is interesting because if there’s one thing the folks creating the drinks at Trick Dog actually do, it’s try really hard. That effort comes in the form of a brand new cocktail menu every six months. And not just any cocktail menu, but a cocktail menu unlike any you’ve ever seen before. There’s been a Chinese menu, a dog calendar, an airplane safety card, a children’s book, to name a few, and the concoctions on each one are just as amazing as the last. If not more so.

9. True Laurel

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, American

True Laurel is a casual cocktail bar and restaurant from the guys behind the high-end Lazy Bear concept and is the perfect place to go when craving inventive, ingredient-driven cocktails and comfort food with a San Francisco twist. The menu changes with the seasons, but a few fan favorites that don’t seem to be going anywhere include the patty melt with special sauce and the Mai O Mai, a mai tai-inspired cocktail with a coffee rum float.

10. Zeitgeist

Bar, American

If the sun is shining, it’s guaranteed that every picnic table in Zeitgeist’s enormous beer garden will be filled with San Franciscans looking to enjoy one of the many craft beers on tap or one of the famous Bloody Marys while savoring a respite from the fog. Even when this punk rock biker (the non-motorized kind) bar isn’t full of people day drinking under blue skies, it’s still a great spot to chill and enjoy cheap drinks and burgers. Just don’t break any of the rules (sitting on a picnic table, taking photos, etc.) because there’s no bar in the city that’s easier to get kicked out of. Totally worth it though.

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