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A group of bar patrons toast with pints of Guinness in hand. Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

16 Lively Irish Pubs to Grab a Pint in San Francisco

And hearty Irish food to boot

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Irish bars were among the first to feel the sting of San Francisco’s COVID-19 shutdown, which forced the pubs to forgo its annual St. Patrick’s Day gatherings in March 2020. Thankfully, many have made the way back to reopening, reclaiming their spots as favorite, local neighborhood watering holes. With consistent drinks, Irish (or otherwise) food to soak up those drinks, and a lively atmosphere, these Irish pubs are destination-worthy any night of the week. Check in for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which vary by venue but are largely inevitable and back in action.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House

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This North Beach hangout is a choose-your-own-adventure mashup featuring both an Irish bar and an Indian restaurant, serving everything from chaat to biryanis and curries (a huge plus: it’s very vegetarian-friendly). At the pub, play pool or foosball, grab a pint of Guinness, and watch the game.

Chief Sullivan's

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Named after San Francisco fire chief Dennis Sullivan, who served during the 1906 earthquake and fires, Chief Sullivan’s (aka Sully’s) is on the newer, handsomer side of the bar spectrum. From the team behind the now-closed Eddie Rickenbacker’s and Marina spot Campus, Chief Sullivan’s is also warm and welcoming, with dark wood and stained glass. The kitchen boasts a menu of Irish food like corned beef and soda bread, and beers on tap range from the requisite Guinness to more local ales.

Irish Times

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Come for the pints, stay for the Irish nachos (potato wedges sub in for tortilla chips) and the lively bar scene. There’s outdoor seating for when the weather’s nice, or when the St. Patrick’s Day melee spills onto the street.

The Irish Bank

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The Irish bank is the yearly scene of a particularly rollicking St. Patrick’s Day block party — which returns in 2022 after going on hiatus — but it’s also host to some sort of revelry almost every night. Inside the bar, you’ll find old brick walls laden with authentic Irish decor, and outside is the place to be on warmer evenings: A charming alley lined with seating. To go with your pint, should you require a bite, order from a food menu of bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and fish and chips.

Johnny Foley's Irish House

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If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more piano bars. Johnny Foley’s is the Irish pub with the answer to that need, offering the standard Jameson-swilling crowd upstairs, and a downstairs bar with live piano. Wednesday through Sunday stop by for dueling pianos late into the night, complete with covers of Lady Gaga, Elton John, and more.

The Plough and the Stars

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Since 1975, this laid-back Clement Street staple has been serving perfect pours of Guinness to locals of all backgrounds. Celtic musicians often play here as well, making it a beacon for Irish ex-pats in the neighborhood.

The Bitter End

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Another Inner Richmond gem, the Bitter End is the scene of many a bar crawl, trivia night, deadly dart game, and beer-soaked gathering with friends. There are two levels on which to hang, and lights strung throughout for ambiance. Don’t miss the sherpherd’s pie here.

The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant

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The lively atmosphere and occasional live band are part of the draw this SoMa bar. Lunch and dinner menus include tacos, nachos, and even a plant-based burger, but the best bet is its Irish fare like the classic Irish breakfast of fried eggs, sausage, rashers, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, baked beans, chips, and soda bread.

The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant
The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant

Little Shamrock

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Built in 1893, this is the oldest bar in the Sunset and one of the oldest in the city. With its collection of board games, darts, backgammon tables, mystery novels, couches, and Tiffany lamps, the Shamrock is a particularly good bar for whiling away a foggy afternoon with friends, and its abundance of TV screens make it a popular spot to watch the game.

Blackthorn Tavern

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No food is served at this Inner Sunset bar, but they do have a barrel-aged cocktail program, and a large selection of whiskies. Like any good Irish bar, there’s plenty of entertainment, from trivia to karaoke and DJ nights.

Durty Nelly's

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Cozy up to Irish stew and a glass of whiskey by the real fireplace while the Sunset District weather — typically cold and foggy — provides the believably Irish atmosphere outdoors. Durty Nelly’s also qualifies as a dive bar/sports bar, with requisite trivia nights and karaoke.

Durty Nelly’s

Casements Bar

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If you’re looking for a place with a more modern Irish bar vibe, Casements in the Mission is where to find it. Rather than decor that’s dripping in shamrocks, its Ireland-ness comes through in other ways — Casements pours a large selection of Ireland-based whiskeys and gins, for instance, and the cocktail menu mixes both Irish and local (or woman-led) brands into its drinks; the food menu is also not something to pass up, from the Spice Bag, Casements own style of spicy fries, to heartier items like the beef and Guinness stew, made with Niman Ranch beef.

Patricia Chang

The Napper Tandy

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An excellent place to create a hangover, or cure it the next day with brunch, Napper Tandy has a proper selection of Irish delicacies like corned beef quesadillas, Guinness beef stew, and shepherd’s pie.

Shepherd’s pie at Napper Tandy
Dev C./Yelp

The Dubliner

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Residents of Noe Valley, a small village within the larger city of San Francisco, have gathered at the Dubliner for more than 25 years, and it shows. Afternoons are for regulars, who all seem to know one another, but bartenders are friendly to all comers.

Shannon Arms Irish Pub

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A deep dive on Taraval, a stretch that’s retained some of its historically Irish identity, the Shannon Arms is a gathering place for an in-the-know coterie of no-nonsense drinkers. Go if you’re game for “Club S,” but certainly avoid it on College Night unless you are, yourself, in college, and maybe even then.

Parkside Tavern

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It’s not straight-up Irish, but Parkside Tavern occupies a historically Irish corner of San Francisco and does it proud with some of the city’s best prepared bangers and mash, cottage pie, and well-poured Guinness. Chef/owner Larry Doyle did write a book on Irish pub cooking, after all: Don’t miss his desserts like banana-soda bread and butter pudding with Bailey’s Irish Cream sauce.

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Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House

This North Beach hangout is a choose-your-own-adventure mashup featuring both an Irish bar and an Indian restaurant, serving everything from chaat to biryanis and curries (a huge plus: it’s very vegetarian-friendly). At the pub, play pool or foosball, grab a pint of Guinness, and watch the game.

Chief Sullivan's

Named after San Francisco fire chief Dennis Sullivan, who served during the 1906 earthquake and fires, Chief Sullivan’s (aka Sully’s) is on the newer, handsomer side of the bar spectrum. From the team behind the now-closed Eddie Rickenbacker’s and Marina spot Campus, Chief Sullivan’s is also warm and welcoming, with dark wood and stained glass. The kitchen boasts a menu of Irish food like corned beef and soda bread, and beers on tap range from the requisite Guinness to more local ales.

Irish Times

Come for the pints, stay for the Irish nachos (potato wedges sub in for tortilla chips) and the lively bar scene. There’s outdoor seating for when the weather’s nice, or when the St. Patrick’s Day melee spills onto the street.

The Irish Bank

The Irish bank is the yearly scene of a particularly rollicking St. Patrick’s Day block party — which returns in 2022 after going on hiatus — but it’s also host to some sort of revelry almost every night. Inside the bar, you’ll find old brick walls laden with authentic Irish decor, and outside is the place to be on warmer evenings: A charming alley lined with seating. To go with your pint, should you require a bite, order from a food menu of bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, and fish and chips.

Johnny Foley's Irish House

If there’s one thing this world needs, it’s more piano bars. Johnny Foley’s is the Irish pub with the answer to that need, offering the standard Jameson-swilling crowd upstairs, and a downstairs bar with live piano. Wednesday through Sunday stop by for dueling pianos late into the night, complete with covers of Lady Gaga, Elton John, and more.

The Plough and the Stars

Since 1975, this laid-back Clement Street staple has been serving perfect pours of Guinness to locals of all backgrounds. Celtic musicians often play here as well, making it a beacon for Irish ex-pats in the neighborhood.

The Bitter End

Another Inner Richmond gem, the Bitter End is the scene of many a bar crawl, trivia night, deadly dart game, and beer-soaked gathering with friends. There are two levels on which to hang, and lights strung throughout for ambiance. Don’t miss the sherpherd’s pie here.

The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant

The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant
The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant

The lively atmosphere and occasional live band are part of the draw this SoMa bar. Lunch and dinner menus include tacos, nachos, and even a plant-based burger, but the best bet is its Irish fare like the classic Irish breakfast of fried eggs, sausage, rashers, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, baked beans, chips, and soda bread.

The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant
The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant

Little Shamrock

Built in 1893, this is the oldest bar in the Sunset and one of the oldest in the city. With its collection of board games, darts, backgammon tables, mystery novels, couches, and Tiffany lamps, the Shamrock is a particularly good bar for whiling away a foggy afternoon with friends, and its abundance of TV screens make it a popular spot to watch the game.

Blackthorn Tavern

No food is served at this Inner Sunset bar, but they do have a barrel-aged cocktail program, and a large selection of whiskies. Like any good Irish bar, there’s plenty of entertainment, from trivia to karaoke and DJ nights.

Durty Nelly's

Durty Nelly’s

Cozy up to Irish stew and a glass of whiskey by the real fireplace while the Sunset District weather — typically cold and foggy — provides the believably Irish atmosphere outdoors. Durty Nelly’s also qualifies as a dive bar/sports bar, with requisite trivia nights and karaoke.

Durty Nelly’s

Casements Bar

Patricia Chang

If you’re looking for a place with a more modern Irish bar vibe, Casements in the Mission is where to find it. Rather than decor that’s dripping in shamrocks, its Ireland-ness comes through in other ways — Casements pours a large selection of Ireland-based whiskeys and gins, for instance, and the cocktail menu mixes both Irish and local (or woman-led) brands into its drinks; the food menu is also not something to pass up, from the Spice Bag, Casements own style of spicy fries, to heartier items like the beef and Guinness stew, made with Niman Ranch beef.

Patricia Chang

The Napper Tandy

Shepherd’s pie at Napper Tandy
Dev C./Yelp

An excellent place to create a hangover, or cure it the next day with brunch, Napper Tandy has a proper selection of Irish delicacies like corned beef quesadillas, Guinness beef stew, and shepherd’s pie.

Shepherd’s pie at Napper Tandy
Dev C./Yelp

The Dubliner

Residents of Noe Valley, a small village within the larger city of San Francisco, have gathered at the Dubliner for more than 25 years, and it shows. Afternoons are for regulars, who all seem to know one another, but bartenders are friendly to all comers.

Shannon Arms Irish Pub