The Best Bars in SoMa, San Francisco

Enjoy a drink in SoMa
Enjoy a drink in SoMa | © Nano Calvo / Alamy Stock Photo
Daisy Barringer

South of Market (SoMa) is a sprawling neighborhood that’s home to industrial warehouses, tech start-ups, AT&T Park and some of the best bars and restaurants in San Francisco. Here, you’ll find speakeasies, cocktail lounges and sports bars that are all perfect for a drink or two.

1. 83 Proof

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub, Pub Grub

If you want a seat at 83 Proof so you can unwind with a drink after work, tell your boss you need skip out early, because this narrow bar fills up fast. The crowd is usually a fun group looking to take advantage of the stellar whiskey selection and the chance to socialize, which also makes this a great watering hole for out-of-towners to mix with the local tech and finance professionals. Despite the bustling scene, the bartenders manage to get drinks out fast and always with a smile.

2. Alchemist Bar and Lounge

Bar, American, Pub Grub

Walk through the doors of this SoMa speakeasy and enter into the amazing world of steampunk. The bar projects black-and-white silent films onto exposed brick walls, a repurposed scrap-metal robot greets you upon entry and the cocktail menu creatively combines anything from herbs and tinctures to house-made infusions and crafted syrups. The venue offers two stories to choose from: there is a bar and lounge on the first level, as well as an overlook upstairs. If that’s not enough to convince you to seek out the discreetly located Alchemist Bar and Lounge, there’s a shuffleboard table to play at while you wait for your specialty crafted cocktails.

3. Bloodhound

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub Grub

Once upon a time (when Edison bulbs were still a thing), Bloodhound might have been considered a hipster destination, but today it’s just a solid not-quite-dive bar with hunting lodge-inspired decor that caters to people who work and live in the neighborhood. The cocktail menu is solid, but not complicated; it’s the beer list, which focuses on obscure local beers (most of which are pretty hoppy), where things get interesting. Grab a pint and play a game of pool or kick back in one of the comfortable leather chairs by the front windows.

4. The Hotel Utah Saloon

Bar, Pub Grub

The Utah is primarily known for featuring independent live music seven nights a week, in a stage area that’s separate from the main bar. However, this dive bar is a chill place to go day and night for anyone who likes friendly bartenders, a full room, cold beer on tap and affordable and tasty pub food (ask for Utah sauce with your fries). It’s been around for 100-plus years, and one can only hope it will be around for 100-plus more.

5. The House of Shields

Bar, Cocktails

This is one of the oldest bars in San Francisco (it’s been here since 1908) and is referred to as the place “where time stands still.” That’s partly because there are no clocks inside The House of Shields (never have been), but also because so many of the original details, like the ornate chandeliers, cozy booths, ceramic floor tiles and rich walnut walls, were recently restored to their former glory. The dimly lit bar is popular with people craving a classic cocktail after work, but in this case, “after work” is regular business hours in addition to the night hours when industry folks clock out late and look for a drink or two to help them wind down before last call.

6. Mourad

Family style, Moroccan

Soaring ceilings, a long marble bar, exposed brick, sexy lighting – Mourad takes glamor to a level rarely seen in San Francisco. The Moroccan restaurant also has a phenomenal and thoughtful cocktail menu with many of the tinctures and syrups made in house (most of the drinks have feature around ingredients). The wine list is also a (somewhat pricey) sight to behold and offers selections from California wine country, classics from Europe and more.

7. Tempest

Bar, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub

Tempest is the go-to SoMa dive bar for everyone from bike messengers to tech workers who want to watch the game, shoot some pool and fill up on some good grub in a laid-back space in a ‘hidden’ alley off Sixth Street. It’s the kind of a place where you order a shot and a beer (the menu even has several specific combos) until you decide that mac and cheese egg rolls (which you’ll get at the food window right outside) sound like the best idea ever.

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