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Where to Go for First Date Drinks in San Francisco

These places have good drinks, buzzy vibes, and food for if things are going well

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As anyone who has logged onto a dating app here can attest, San Francisco is absolutely teeming with single people looking for a match. Get-to-know-you conversation can only go so far via text, and eventually you've got to take things offline. For when that happens, you need the perfect first date spot, which should have good drinks (whether it's a cocktail or a glass of wine), a buzzy vibe (full, but not crowded), and the ability to order some food if things are going well. Bonus points for interesting menu or decor items that can help move conversation along if needed. These 16 bars check off all the first date necessities, so based on which neighborhood you'll be meeting up in, take your pick.

Rather get coffee on your first date? No problem; these coffee shops are ideal for first dates. First date go so well you're ready for a second? Head here for some moderately-priced options, and here for fancier vibes.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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High Treason

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Skylights provide nice light at this art-filled wine bar from alums of Restaurant at Meadowood, Quince, and Gary Danko. Even if you don’t know much about wine, the staff is well-informed and helpful while guiding you through their list of by-the-glass selections, and there are snacks from cured meats and cheese plates to gooey croquettes. High Treason doubles as a retail shop in case you need to get a bottle for the after-party.

Aub Zam Zam

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The bartenders at this notoriously ornery, Persian-themed dive bar have softened up a bit in the past few years, making this one of the more romantic dives in the neighborhood. You'll want to stick to ordering the basics, but if you can successfully navigate first date drinks here, where the prickly staff can be an obstacle to overcome together, then you definitely deserve a second date.

Horsefeather

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This NoPa cocktail bar occupies a gorgeous, wood-paneled space with tons of seating and an atrium up front for when it's nice out (though there are heaters for cooler weather, too). The drinks all come in beautiful barware, and the bites, should this date start to include dinner, are great as well.

The Snug

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The Snug can occasionally feel like Tinder come roaring to life: Lots of first dates seek it out because there’s plenty of space, and the cocktails, beer, and wine are excellent,. There’s also top-notch food if things are clicking and the happy new couple wants to stick around for dinner as well.

Fat Angel Food & Libation

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With a friendly neighborhood vibe and an extensive wine and beer list, Fat Angel will let you show off your wine or beer knowledge without adding to the first-date pressure. And, assuming things are going nicely, a nice menu of charcuterie and small plates will keep the two of you at the table long enough to split another bottle.

The Interval at Long Now

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There is a lot at this intense cocktail bar to distract if needed: artifacts to look at, historical explanations to read, a 34-drink-long list to choose from. No matter which beverage you choose, the drinks are good, the vibes are relaxed, and there's some food to snack on.

Blackbird Bar

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This neighborhood watering hole has inexpensive, expertly-crafted cocktails made by very friendly bartenders. The drink names can help discussion flow — it's hard not to talk about cocktails inspired by Game of Thrones and hip hop albums. There's also rotating art on the walls for moments of true conversation desperation.

A great wine bar date choice in Hayes Valley, with a patio and food to boot, should you need a bite. It’s just enough off the beaten path, and so are the wine selections, which prize lesser-loved but excellent regions and varieties.

Birba

ABV just might be the most perfect first date spot in the entire city. Always-stellar cocktails, friendly bartenders, plenty of seating, a buzzy crowd, and better-than-average bar bites are ABV's winning formula.

Lone Palm

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The Lone Palm exudes unfussy elegance, with low, gentle lighting and white tablecloths. It’s a great but actually non-fancy, almost dive bar — an easygoing place for excellent classic cocktails. And come on, that palm tree and neon sign out front are nothing if not romantic. For snacking, the bar mix is a nice touch, too.

Wildhawk

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Stylish, dimly-lit Wildhawk mixes a mean cocktail, and the elegant, feminine vibe here is likely to impress a fancy-seeming date. Bar drector Karri Kiyuna’s breakfast negroni is a must-order drink for negroni fans. Yes, it’s owned by the Plumpjack Group, who took it over after a long tenure as lesbian bar the Lexington Club, but Wildhawk, so you can talk about that on your date.

Union Larder

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Union Larder sets the bar for wine bars in San Francisco, with its glowy interior, excellent wine list, and just-enough food menu. It's casual and comfortable inside, and you'll likely encounter plenty of other first dates, but there's a reason for that. And that reason is because it's a great first date spot.

Mr Tipple's Recording Studio

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Live music may seem too loud for a first date, but the upbeat jazz (no cover) and lively scene at Mr. Tipples will work in your favor in this case. Over snacks and expert cocktails from the Maven team you can either have such a good time that you end up dancing, or be grateful for the music to fill the space if conversation falls silent.

Holy Water

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Excellent cocktails in a modern space are all you need for a first date in this sleepy neighborhood. Plus, there are some bar snacks like nuts and jerky to help line your stomach.

The Barrel Room

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The Financial District and Embarcadero can be full of expense account- and tourist-traps, but The Barrel Room is neither. Get to know your new potential someone over a dignified glass of wine (or beer or something stronger, if you prefer) in a calm setting, where you can order food if that's where the evening takes you.

Third Rail

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A bar with a railway theme is a surprisingly good spot for a first date, where craft cocktails and mid-century vibes might help things pick up steam. The only food here is a variety of jerky (sold by the ounce), so either eat ahead of time or be prepared to get the dried meat sweats with a total stranger.

High Treason

Skylights provide nice light at this art-filled wine bar from alums of Restaurant at Meadowood, Quince, and Gary Danko. Even if you don’t know much about wine, the staff is well-informed and helpful while guiding you through their list of by-the-glass selections, and there are snacks from cured meats and cheese plates to gooey croquettes. High Treason doubles as a retail shop in case you need to get a bottle for the after-party.

Aub Zam Zam

The bartenders at this notoriously ornery, Persian-themed dive bar have softened up a bit in the past few years, making this one of the more romantic dives in the neighborhood. You'll want to stick to ordering the basics, but if you can successfully navigate first date drinks here, where the prickly staff can be an obstacle to overcome together, then you definitely deserve a second date.

Horsefeather

This NoPa cocktail bar occupies a gorgeous, wood-paneled space with tons of seating and an atrium up front for when it's nice out (though there are heaters for cooler weather, too). The drinks all come in beautiful barware, and the bites, should this date start to include dinner, are great as well.

The Snug

The Snug can occasionally feel like Tinder come roaring to life: Lots of first dates seek it out because there’s plenty of space, and the cocktails, beer, and wine are excellent,. There’s also top-notch food if things are clicking and the happy new couple wants to stick around for dinner as well.

Fat Angel Food & Libation

With a friendly neighborhood vibe and an extensive wine and beer list, Fat Angel will let you show off your wine or beer knowledge without adding to the first-date pressure. And, assuming things are going nicely, a nice menu of charcuterie and small plates will keep the two of you at the table long enough to split another bottle.

The Interval at Long Now

There is a lot at this intense cocktail bar to distract if needed: artifacts to look at, historical explanations to read, a 34-drink-long list to choose from. No matter which beverage you choose, the drinks are good, the vibes are relaxed, and there's some food to snack on.

Blackbird Bar

This neighborhood watering hole has inexpensive, expertly-crafted cocktails made by very friendly bartenders. The drink names can help discussion flow — it's hard not to talk about cocktails inspired by Game of Thrones and hip hop albums. There's also rotating art on the walls for moments of true conversation desperation.

Birba

Birba

A great wine bar date choice in Hayes Valley, with a patio and food to boot, should you need a bite. It’s just enough off the beaten path, and so are the wine selections, which prize lesser-loved but excellent regions and varieties.

Birba

ABV

ABV just might be the most perfect first date spot in the entire city. Always-stellar cocktails, friendly bartenders, plenty of seating, a buzzy crowd, and better-than-average bar bites are ABV's winning formula.

Lone Palm

The Lone Palm exudes unfussy elegance, with low, gentle lighting and white tablecloths. It’s a great but actually non-fancy, almost dive bar — an easygoing place for excellent classic cocktails. And come on, that palm tree and neon sign out front are nothing if not romantic. For snacking, the bar mix is a nice touch, too.

Wildhawk

Stylish, dimly-lit Wildhawk mixes a mean cocktail, and the elegant, feminine vibe here is likely to impress a fancy-seeming date. Bar drector Karri Kiyuna’s breakfast negroni is a must-order drink for negroni fans. Yes, it’s owned by the Plumpjack Group, who took it over after a long tenure as lesbian bar the Lexington Club, but Wildhawk, so you can talk about that on your date.

Union Larder

Union Larder sets the bar for wine bars in San Francisco, with its glowy interior, excellent wine list, and just-enough food menu. It's casual and comfortable inside, and you'll likely encounter plenty of other first dates, but there's a reason for that. And that reason is because it's a great first date spot.

Mr Tipple's Recording Studio

Live music may seem too loud for a first date, but the upbeat jazz (no cover) and lively scene at Mr. Tipples will work in your favor in this case. Over snacks and expert cocktails from the Maven team you can either have such a good time that you end up dancing, or be grateful for the music to fill the space if conversation falls silent.