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The 20 Best Dive Bars in San Francisco

Dive bars are that special egalitarian breed of bar for anyone and everyone

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There for you when you need them — even at 9 a.m. — dive bars are that special breed of bar for anyone and everyone. They are mostly dark, still on the cheaper side, and always sport a character or two.

With San Francisco’s rising rents and demand for the next big thing, dive bars are less ubiquitous in the city these days, as many long-time, beloved establishments have shuttered. But that just makes the ones that are still around all the more special. Here are the 20 San Francisco dive bars that remain some of the best — and most vital — spots in the city.

Note: bars are not ranked, and are listed geographically from west to east.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Riptide

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3639 Taraval
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 681-8433
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The Riptide is the see-and-be-seen Outer Sunset/Parkside dive bar, and it’s fostered a deep community among locals — so much so that when it burned down some years ago, the whole neighborhood was distraught. Fortunately, it’s back and better than ever, with a killer bingo night, competitively priced drinks, and a “locals-only, but maybe you, too” attitude.

2. Trad'r Sam's

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6150 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 221-0773

Inside this Richmond watering hole is a tropical oasis, from the drinks to the worn rattan furniture. Knowing bartenders will provide seafarers with drinks like scorpion bowls, sugary mai tais, and Miller Lites, while old dudes at the bar scream at the Giants game. It's dark, it's divey, and it's perfect for any occasion.

3. The Silver Spur

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1914 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 564-4250
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This Western-ish bar couldn’t be more oddly placed in a neighborhood dominated by Asian markets and boba tea spots. It’s still managed to assemble a cast of regulars in the decades since it opened.

4. O’Keeffe’s Bar

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598 5th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 751-1449

O’Keefe’s, a 45-year-old bar at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Balboa Street, might feel a bit intimidating for newcomers (imagine that piano-stops-playing-and-silence-falls moment in a Western). Patrons who behave themselves are quickly welcomed, quite often by Annie O’Keeffe, the bar’s owner. This isn’t the place to order a cocktail, however, as Annie has been known to tell patrons who get fancier than a Jack and Coke to stick to shots or hit the road.

5. The Page

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298 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 255-6101
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Weirdly carpeted and dimly lit, the Page is the neighborhood curmudgeon who's invited you over for a Miller High Life. It has a great jukebox, foosball, torn up leather stools, and the ghosts of many beers past, kind of like a basement rec room from the late ‘70s. In other words, it's a national treasure.

6. Glen Park Station

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2901 Diamond St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 989-2278
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It’s really the only bar for the Glen Park neighborhood, but when you have Glen Park Station, you don’t need anywhere else. There’s a fireplace, few lights to speak of, cheap beer, and a general musk that’s somehow pleasant.

7. Molotov's

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582 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 558-8019

Low ceilings, close quarters, and PBRs are part of the dive appeal at this Haight bar. Punk on the juke box, a pool table, and stiff drinks are part of the charm (or appealing lack thereof) here.

8. Lucky 13

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2140 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 487-1313

This dive bar with good beers and a punk-leaning juke box is one of the good ones. And though there's a cat on the sign, pups often hang out while their owners slug PBR and craft brews. When the weather’s nice, enjoy those well drinks on the side patio. Get in there before its gone.

9. The 500 Club

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500 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 861-2500
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The 500 Club’s neon sign — with flickering lights glittering like bubbles in a glass — gives patrons a warm, fuzzy feeling. So do the drinks. The company, though not necessarily warm or fuzzy, is great, too: The bar has been a longtime favorite of bike messengers and longtime Missionites, and it still gathers to it a great collection of locals.

Lynn Friedman

10. Kilowatt

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3160 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 861-2595
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Drink beer, play darts and Pac Man, and generally luxuriate in Kilowatt's low-key surroundings. It's not romantic, and it's ready for your cold, black heart to listen to metal all night long. Decent beers on tap and a full bar don't hurt.

Local WIKI

11. Zeitgeist

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199 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-7505
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Zeitgeist won't put up with your BS, so just leave it at home. This bar is cash only, has big pitchers of beers, decent burgers, and a big patio. They’ve also got a good bloody mary, if your drinking needs to start/continue in the morning.

12. Cinch Saloon

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1723 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 776-4162
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Still here, still queer, the Cinch is a relic of the Polk corridor’s long career as a gay nightlife neighborhood in the years before the community coalesced in the Castro. Day in and day out, the Cinch continues to draw a smattering of hard-drinkers, and its gallery of gay-themed art — including a notable depiction of a lion and a man in some sort of romantic position — is worth a visit alone.

13. Clooney's Pub

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1401 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-4988

Clooney’s opens, frighteningly, at 6 a.m., the earliest it can in accordance with local liquor law. That’s theoretically to serve folks getting off their night shift, and it’s also, in practice, to serve those whose main vocation is drinking at Clooney’s. There is no nobler calling.

14. Doc's Clock

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2417 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-3627
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Though the San Francisco institution has moved to a new location blocks from its original spot, it maintains all its divey charm. Wander to the end of the narrow bar and back again in search of love, or just grab a seat at the bar and order bourbon on the rocks. Either way, Doc's has the medicine you need.

Caleb Pershan

15. Ha-Ra Club

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875 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-3148
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This somewhat civilized Tenderloin dive bar has keg tables, as in tables with kegs underneath and taps on top, that you can reserve and drink with your friends. So gather the troops, and head over for some poor decision making as a group.

16. Shotwell’s

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3349 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-4104
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A true neighborhood saloon, Shotwell's has a residential feel in the middle of the Mission. Inside you'll find a pool table, tables, TVs, a full bar, and lots of locals: All the makings of a true neighborhood dive.

17. Aunt Charlies Lounge

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133 Turk St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 441-2922
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A beautifully bedraggled, dive-y drag bar in the Tenderloin where experienced, mostly queer drinkers gather for the kind of drag shows that repel bachelorette parties. Aunt Charlies, est. 1987, is a downright institution, and one of San Francisco’s few LGBT joints outside of the Castro. Celebrate it in all its gritty glory.

18. Specs' Twelve Adler Museum Cafe

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12 William Saroyan Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-4112

Specs' Twelve Adler Museum Cafe hides in a little alley way off of Columbus Avenue. But if you know, you go, to this heavily-decorated, no-bullshit bar where the priciest drink rings in at $10. The decor is virtually unchanged since it opened in 1968, and unionized bartenders receive benefits and retirement, can refuse to make a drink they don't want to, kick anyone out for any reason they deem worthy, and hand out business cards letting men or women know to back off someone they're chatting up.

19. Li Po Cocktail Lounge

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916 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 982-0072
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Though Li Po rocketed to fame when the late Anthony Bourdain deigned to grace it with his presence, it's always been a shabby, boozy establishment worthy of a special trip to Chinatown. Make sure you get one of its famous Chinese mai tais.

20. Thee Parkside

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1600 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 252-1330
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A dive bar with a great covered patio, food, and metal bands on rotation. Hang in the back for a more "au natural" dive experience, or sidle up to the shadowy inside bar for a pint and a shot. Dogs are welcome here. There's also a cute little coffee window facing the street, providing the uppers to the bar's downers.

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1. The Riptide

3639 Taraval, San Francisco, CA 94116

The Riptide is the see-and-be-seen Outer Sunset/Parkside dive bar, and it’s fostered a deep community among locals — so much so that when it burned down some years ago, the whole neighborhood was distraught. Fortunately, it’s back and better than ever, with a killer bingo night, competitively priced drinks, and a “locals-only, but maybe you, too” attitude.

3639 Taraval
San Francisco, CA 94116

2. Trad'r Sam's

6150 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

Inside this Richmond watering hole is a tropical oasis, from the drinks to the worn rattan furniture. Knowing bartenders will provide seafarers with drinks like scorpion bowls, sugary mai tais, and Miller Lites, while old dudes at the bar scream at the Giants game. It's dark, it's divey, and it's perfect for any occasion.

6150 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121

3. The Silver Spur

1914 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

This Western-ish bar couldn’t be more oddly placed in a neighborhood dominated by Asian markets and boba tea spots. It’s still managed to assemble a cast of regulars in the decades since it opened.

1914 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122

4. O’Keeffe’s Bar

598 5th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

O’Keefe’s, a 45-year-old bar at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Balboa Street, might feel a bit intimidating for newcomers (imagine that piano-stops-playing-and-silence-falls moment in a Western). Patrons who behave themselves are quickly welcomed, quite often by Annie O’Keeffe, the bar’s owner. This isn’t the place to order a cocktail, however, as Annie has been known to tell patrons who get fancier than a Jack and Coke to stick to shots or hit the road.

598 5th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94118

5. The Page

298 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Weirdly carpeted and dimly lit, the Page is the neighborhood curmudgeon who's invited you over for a Miller High Life. It has a great jukebox, foosball, torn up leather stools, and the ghosts of many beers past, kind of like a basement rec room from the late ‘70s. In other words, it's a national treasure.

298 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117

6. Glen Park Station

2901 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94131

It’s really the only bar for the Glen Park neighborhood, but when you have Glen Park Station, you don’t need anywhere else. There’s a fireplace, few lights to speak of, cheap beer, and a general musk that’s somehow pleasant.

2901 Diamond St
San Francisco, CA 94131

7. Molotov's

582 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Low ceilings, close quarters, and PBRs are part of the dive appeal at this Haight bar. Punk on the juke box, a pool table, and stiff drinks are part of the charm (or appealing lack thereof) here.

582 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

8. Lucky 13

2140 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

This dive bar with good beers and a punk-leaning juke box is one of the good ones. And though there's a cat on the sign, pups often hang out while their owners slug PBR and craft brews. When the weather’s nice, enjoy those well drinks on the side patio. Get in there before its gone.

2140 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

9. The 500 Club

500 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Lynn Friedman

The 500 Club’s neon sign — with flickering lights glittering like bubbles in a glass — gives patrons a warm, fuzzy feeling. So do the drinks. The company, though not necessarily warm or fuzzy, is great, too: The bar has been a longtime favorite of bike messengers and longtime Missionites, and it still gathers to it a great collection of locals.

500 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110

10. Kilowatt

3160 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Local WIKI

Drink beer, play darts and Pac Man, and generally luxuriate in Kilowatt's low-key surroundings. It's not romantic, and it's ready for your cold, black heart to listen to metal all night long. Decent beers on tap and a full bar don't hurt.

3160 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

11. Zeitgeist

199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Zeitgeist won't put up with your BS, so just leave it at home. This bar is cash only, has big pitchers of beers, decent burgers, and a big patio. They’ve also got a good bloody mary, if your drinking needs to start/continue in the morning.

199 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103

12. Cinch Saloon

1723 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Still here, still queer, the Cinch is a relic of the Polk corridor’s long career as a gay nightlife neighborhood in the years before the community coalesced in the Castro. Day in and day out, the Cinch continues to draw a smattering of hard-drinkers, and its gallery of gay-themed art — including a notable depiction of a lion and a man in some sort of romantic position — is worth a visit alone.

1723 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

13. Clooney's Pub

1401 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Clooney’s opens, frighteningly, at 6 a.m., the earliest it can in accordance with local liquor law. That’s theoretically to serve folks getting off their night shift, and it’s also, in practice, to serve those whose main vocation is drinking at Clooney’s. There is no nobler calling.

1401 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

14. Doc's Clock

2417 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Caleb Pershan

Though the San Francisco institution has moved to a new location blocks from its original spot, it maintains all its divey charm. Wander to the end of the narrow bar and back again in search of love, or just grab a seat at the bar and order bourbon on the rocks. Either way, Doc's has the medicine you need.

2417 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110

15. Ha-Ra Club

875 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This somewhat civilized Tenderloin dive bar has keg tables, as in tables with kegs underneath and taps on top, that you can reserve and drink with your friends. So gather the troops, and head over for some poor decision making as a group.

875 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94109

Related Maps

16. Shotwell’s

3349 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

A true neighborhood saloon, Shotwell's has a residential feel in the middle of the Mission. Inside you'll find a pool table, tables, TVs, a full bar, and lots of locals: All the makings of a true neighborhood dive.

3349 20th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

17. Aunt Charlies Lounge

133 Turk St, San Francisco, CA 94102

A beautifully bedraggled, dive-y drag bar in the Tenderloin where experienced, mostly queer drinkers gather for the kind of drag shows that repel bachelorette parties. Aunt Charlies, est. 1987, is a downright institution, and one of San Francisco’s few LGBT joints outside of the Castro. Celebrate it in all its gritty glory.

133 Turk St
San Francisco, CA 94102

18. Specs' Twelve Adler Museum Cafe

12 William Saroyan Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

Specs' Twelve Adler Museum Cafe hides in a little alley way off of Columbus Avenue. But if you know, you go, to this heavily-decorated, no-bullshit bar where the priciest drink rings in at $10. The decor is virtually unchanged since it opened in 1968, and unionized bartenders receive benefits and retirement, can refuse to make a drink they don't want to, kick anyone out for any reason they deem worthy, and hand out business cards letting men or women know to back off someone they're chatting up.

12 William Saroyan Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133

19. Li Po Cocktail Lounge

916 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108

Though Li Po rocketed to fame when the late Anthony Bourdain deigned to grace it with his presence, it's always been a shabby, boozy establishment worthy of a special trip to Chinatown. Make sure you get one of its famous Chinese mai tais.

916 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108

20. Thee Parkside

1600 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

A dive bar with a great covered patio, food, and metal bands on rotation. Hang in the back for a more "au natural" dive experience, or sidle up to the shadowy inside bar for a pint and a shot. Dogs are welcome here. There's also a cute little coffee window facing the street, providing the uppers to the bar's downers.

1600 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Related Maps