This place is a true dive bar. Visit Zeitgeist for a huge selection of beers on tap – the bartenders know the beers very well. Beware: the mixed drinks are strong, but you will certainly get your money’s worth. There is a huge outdoor patio, but it fills up quickly. Timing is key if you want to get the full Zeitgeist experience. We recommend going to this bar on a colder day or during strange hours if you want to reserve seats for a group of people. Cash only, no pictures or videos and ‘no pets and no BS’.
Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia St San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 255-7505
Shotwell’s Bar is one of the oldest bars in San Francisco – it first opened as the Schlichtmann and Bredhogy Grocery Saloon in 1891. Shotwell’s offers a relaxing atmosphere with music that isn’t loud enough to drown out your conversation, making it the perfect place to grab a drink and chat. It’s never too crowded, and they have a pool table along with pinball machines. Shotwell’s doesn’t have a full kitchen, but they do offer a variety of snacks. It’s cash only, and it only serves beer, wine and sangria.
Shotwell’s Bar, 3349 20th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 648-4104
Visit Elbo Room if you’re into bars with comfortable couches for seating, red mood lighting, a photo booth and pinball games galore. The New York Times described Elbo Room as the most diverse and intimate live music venue in San Francisco. This bar’s back room functions as a music venue, making it the perfect bar for a casual evening with a few friends or a more eventful night with live music. Offering a variety of cheap drinks and an eclectic crowd, Elbo Room will give you a true Mission experience.
Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 552-7788
Some may describe Dr. Teeth as a dive bar on the inside and homey backyard on the outside. Appearance aside, this establishment provides great bar food at an affordable price. It offers 25-cent wings on Wednesdays (in a large variety of flavors), $2 tacos on Tuesdays and many creative tater tot dishes. Check out brunch at Dr. Teeth and enjoy $15 bottomless mimosas. You’ll find an eclectic crowd at this bar – consider it ‘euro hipster chic’. Sit out back and enjoy a beer while watching a game on a flat screen or grab cocktails with friends. We recommend the Kentucky Mule (bourbon, ginger beer and lime juice served in a mason jar).
Bender’s Bar and Grill
If you want good margarita and tater tots in a grungy location, visit Bender’s Bar and Grill. Offering $1 games of pool and live music every Saturday, Bender’s qualifies as a dive bar. The best part about Bender’s is its assortment of bar food, which includes vegan and vegetarian options. Whether you’re in the mood for fried artichoke hearts or a BBQ chicken sandwich, you’ll be able to find a tasty treat at Bender’s.
Latin American Club
This place gets crowded fast, so be prepared to defend your personal space. Latin American Club’s margaritas are so strong, you should be good to go after one. With the kitschy decor and margarita pints, this bar is a great place to come with a group of friends for a tequila-filled eve.
Latin American Club, 3286 22nd St, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 647-2732
Calling all the ladies – be sure to get to Beauty Bar on Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 11pm while the manicurist is on duty. This bar offers ‘martinis and manicures’, making it a unusual establishment. There are also great DJs, so you can spend hours dancing at this joint. Rent out the space for a party or come with a few friends for a casual night. Check out Beauty Bar for a dive bar with a twist.
Beauty Bar, 2299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 285-0323
If you’re looking for a customized martini, Blondie’s Bar is your best bet. Blondie’s has a large chalkboard behind the bar with its giant menu written on it. It offers a variety of specialty martinis. They are served in a pint glass filled to the brim, shaken and poured into a martini glass. These drinks are strong and may be split or shared. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing place to chat with a friend or take a date, your best option is to come before 10pm. After then, Blondie’s becomes more of a crowded bar. Sometimes there is a live band and there is also a small dance floor.
Blondie’s Bar, 540 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 864-2419
Amnesia is a charming little hipster bar, and it is very dark. The cover charge is ‘pay what you feel’, which makes it an affordable venue. There is live music every night – on Mondays there is bluegrass and on Wednesdays there is jazz. Check out their website for more information about special events.
Amnesia, 853 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 970-0012
If you are at all a fan of hip-hop, make sure you get to Double Dutch. The DJs play a brilliant mix of old school and new hip-hop, and the decor has a nostalgic feel. The wall is lined with boom boxes, cassette tapes, and vinyl, making it a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. It can get very loud, so Double Dutch is better for dancing than having a conversation with friends. The drinks are strong and reasonably priced, and the cover charge is cheap.
Double Dutch, 3192 16th St, San Francisco, CA, USA, (415) 373-1042