The Upper Haight is most famous for once being home to the Grateful Dead, the Summer of Love, and a place people traveled to in search of peace, love, and ... acid. And though that colorful history is still why tourists flock to the popular neighborhood, there are a ton of far less cliché reasons for local San Franciscans to make their way to the notorious street, like a killer jazz club, tasty street tacos, and some of the best craft cocktails around.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in the Upper Haight
A vetted guide to dining and drinking in the neighborhood
1. Aub Zam Zam
The Persian-themed Aub Zam Zam is a true San Francisco original and unlike any other bar you'll find in the city. Though there's a much lower chance of getting kicked out ever since the original owner, Bruno, passed away in 2000 (he was famous for finding any excuse — ordering wrong, being annoying — to send people on their way), not much else has changed at this local haunt that opened in 1941. Play some jazz on the jukebox, grab a seat at the horseshoe-shaped bar, and order a martini — the bartenders make some of the best in town. Just be prepared to pay in cash.
2. Blue Front Cafe
Though Blue Front Cafe does more than just Middle Eastern food, the falafel, kabobs, and gyros are the main reason to visit this laid back cafe where you order and pick up your food at the counter. The prices feel a little steep, but the portions are huge, so it all evens out. There's also free Wifi, good coffee, and a couple of beers on tap, so this is a great spot to have a casual meeting or get some work accomplished.
3. Burma Bear
Tucked away inside Second Act, a small marketplace in the old Red Vic movie house location is Burma Bear, which serves some of the best food on Haight Street. The dishes are a blend of Burmese flavors and American barbecue, which comes together especially well in the baby back ribs. Even better: A plate of them with rice will only cost you $10.
4. Citrus Club
This Pan-Asian noodle house is the place to go when you're craving oodles of noodles. There are noodle soups, cold noodle "salads," and wok-tossed noodles, and the portions for all of them are extremely generous. The decor is nothing to write home about; it's basically a dark, casual hole-in-the-wall, but that doesn't stop this spot from filling up during prime dining times.
5. Club Deluxe
Club Deluxe sure doesn't look sexy on the outside, but when you walk in, it's all red lighting, free live jazz, and expertly-made cocktails. Even with all of that, it still feels casual and approachable; perfect for a first date or an impromptu last drink before you head home. Or, for dinner, the $10 12-inch Neopolitan-style margherita pizza is also one of the best (and tastiest) deals you'll find on Haight.
6. Escape From New York Pizza
When you've had a few drinks and are desperately craving a hot slice of pizza, Escape from New York is the place to go. It's open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, there's a pizza with sliced and roasted potatoes and garlic over pesto, and that's pretty much all you need to know about that.
7. Flywheel Coffee
It doesn't get more San Francisco than this coffee shop right across from Golden Gate Park. The space is uber-industrial with lots of concrete and reclaimed wood, and every cup of coffee is hand-made to order. And even though it's all a bit of a SF cliche, it's still one of the best places in the neighborhood to get a cup of high-end coffee. Want to get some work done while you caffeinate? There's free Wifi and plenty of outlets.
8. Ginza Sushi & Sake
Ginza fills the neighborhood's need for sushi. The space feels fun and modern (though the jury is still out on the TV that's often showing sports) and the fish and produce are delivered every morning, which means everything tastes bright and fresh. Portions err on the smaller size, but that just means you have room to try more dishes.
9. Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge
San Francisco, CA 94117
If you're looking for the diviest dive bar in the Upper Haight, look no further than Gold Cane, which feels like it's stuck in the 1970s — in a good way. The patrons are loyal, the drinks are cheap, and there's plenty of seating and a pool table. What more do you need?
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10. Hobson's Choice
This "Victorian punch house" is the perfect place to waste away an afternoon. Find a seat in the front by the huge windows for maximum Haight Street people watching and order one of the signature punches or any rum cocktail you can think of (Hobson's claims to have the largest rum selection of any bar in the country), then enjoy the hours as they fly by.
11. Kezar Pub
Kezar is the best sports bar in the neighborhood by far. Flat screen TVs line the wall and whether you want to watch American football, European football, rugby, basketball, baseball, hockey, cricket, boxing, or pretty much anything else, there's an excellent chance the game will be on — even if it starts at 6 a.m.
12. Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery
Craft beer poured by bartenders who know their stuff and tasty pub fare are the reason this corner spot is constantly bustling with locals. Even though much of the beer is now made in the Dogpatch brewery, smaller batches and seasonal offerings are still produced at the original Upper Haight spot— it will always remain near and dear to everyone who remembers when Magnolia was one of the first craft breweries in SF.
13. Murio's Trophy Room
San Francisco, CA 94117
Locals were pretty upset when Murio's underwent a transformation in 2012, ridding itself of most of its dive bar "charm" in lieu of a more sleek and modern feel. Still, the drinks remain cheap, the bartenders are friendly, there's a pool table and a jukebox and — perhaps best of all — your well-behaved pup can accompany you as long as it's not too crowded inside.
14. Parada 22
Just stepping foot inside Parada 22 will instantly brighten your day thanks to the vibrant colors and decor. Plus, it has very affordable home-style Puerto Rican food, all of which tastes even better when paired with a pitcher of sangria. There might be a bit of a wait, but it's always well worth it.
15. Pork Store Cafe
If you go on the weekend, you will definitely have to wait for a seat at this greasy spoon. Instead, head here on a weekday and grab a seat at the counter where you can watch the cook masterfully work the griddle. You really can't go wrong with any of the diner-style dishes, especially if they come with hash browns. The only bummer is that the biscuits tend to lack flavor (though it's nothing some gravy and/or honey and butter can't fix).
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16. Ritual Roasters Coffee
Ritual is a ritual in SF so it only makes sense that the artisanal coffee chain finally opened a spot in the Upper Haight. The space is clean and bright with a few small tables if you want to enjoy your pour over coffee, batch brew, espresso, or cold brew there.
17. Sparrow Bar and Kitchen
Sparrow Bar and Kitchen probably doesn't want to be known for its adorable back garden and patio seating, but in a city where al fresco dining is at a premium, that's just a burden the restaurant will have to bear. Luckily, the casual, yet elevated American fare is also tasty, and the brunch options are some of the best you'll find in the vicinity.
18. Street Taco
San Francisco, CA 94117
Straightforward taqueria food (burritos, quesadillas, and tacos with 12 different meat and veggie options) in a bright and colorful space make Street Taco the neighborhood's Mexican go-to. Nothing on the menu is over $9, and though that might seem pricey for two tacos, the flour tostada bowl with meat, beans, cheese, guac, lettuce, and salsa, is a (very filling) steal at just $8.50.
19. The Alembic
Alembic was one of the first San Francisco bars to really showcase the craft cocktail when it opened in 2006. Ten years later, nothing has changed — except the space, which expanded in 2015 to accommodate patrons who are just as interested in the inventive food menu as they are the serious drinks.