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Starlite opens atop the Beacon Grand Hotel on February 2.
Patricia Chang

15 Hot New Bars to Try in San Francisco Right Now

This city has something for every kind of drinker from cocktails and beer to wine

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Starlite opens atop the Beacon Grand Hotel on February 2.
| Patricia Chang

San Francisco residents might love an early morning run across the Golden Gate or a hike out to Stinson Beach but don’t let that fact fool you: this is also a city with a deep affinity for a stiff drink. Classic cocktail bars specialize in everything from perfect margaritas to award-worthy craft cocktails. But there’s also pretty much always a handful of newcomers entering the scene with fresh menus and stylish spaces. Here you’ll find the most exciting and interesting places in San Francisco to knock back a drink — whether your beverage of choice means a funky wine, a rare sake, or a solid cocktail.

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Golden Sardine

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Golden Sardine swam into the North Beach neighborhood in late January, with a list of wines that shines a big spotlight on Reisling (though there are other varietals available as well) and lots of tinned fish. It’s part wine bar, part wine shop, and part poetry hangout, with owner Andrew Paul Nelson bringing deep connections to the city’s literary scene to the table. “We’re all super excited about the upcoming generation of poets,” Nelson tells Eater SF.

Golden Sardine. Andrew Paul Nelson

Left Door

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The Bus Stop might not be the first place that comes to mind when looking for a good cocktail in Cow Hollow. But as of late 2023, there’s a swanky lounge upstairs called the Left Door and it’s a destination for ice-cold martinis infused with Monterey Bay seaweed, olive brine, and Hog Island sea salt brine with a side of caviar. The bar encourages customers to dress to impress and limit phone usage.

The interior of Left Door, a new lounge in San Francisco, with a yellow couch, dark blue floral wallpaper, and hanging lights, very living room-esque. Left Door

Céleste

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The team behind hit wine bars Bodega in North Beach and Key Klub in Lower Nob Hill has taken their talents to Union Street with the opening of their newest project Céleste. It’s another wine bar, of course, this time moving into the former West Coast Wine & Cheese space. Alongside a list that veers between funky, naturally produced selections from the New World and Old World and California standards, there’s a menu of Greek-inspired bites such as dips and grilled skewers. 

Holbrook House

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Holbrook House, the uber-luxurious new restaurant and bar on the ground floor of the One Sansome building, serves coffee by day and a full food menu at night — but it also hopes to be a destination for post-work drinks. Case in point: some tables come equipped with switches to summon either a Champagne or a martini cart. Customers can then choose from a selection of gins and vermouths, a rotating cast of bitters, and house-made garnishes.

Matthew Millman

Starlite

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Harry Denton’s Starlight Room makes a comeback on February 2, now called simply, Starlite, but still perched atop a hotel near Union Square. Head to the top of the Beacon Grand for a cocktail menu by talented local bartender Scott Baird and a menu of small bites from Washington, D.C.-based chef Johnny Spero. The space has been updated with lush green chairs, ample velvet, and many tassels — and, of course, the views cannot be beat. 

Patricia Chang

Dawn Club

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Downtown San Francisco might be struggling to rebound from the pandemic, but Dawn Club, a stunning new bar and jazz club could be a sign that some sectors are thriving. Open since May, the bar comes from prolific local nightlife company Future Bars, who invested in reviving the historic Monadnock building on Market Street. Swing through – though you’d be wise to make a reservation — for regular live music and an extensive selection of whiskey including high-end options such as Pappy Van Winkle, if you’re into that.

Dawn Club

The Harlequin

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New SoMa bar the Harlequin brings big Gatsby vibes to the historic Mosser Building on 4th Street between Market and Mission. Bar pro Phil Chen, also behind Members Only and the Alchemist, aimed to set the backdrop for a 1920s-style party, one where customers can enjoy a pizza or Thai shrimp pasta with a cocktail. The bar shakes up some of the usual suspects including an espresso martini and an ube colada, but there are also drinks unique to the Harlequin such as the Rhinestone Cowboy made with Jack Daniels, Meletti amaro, sasparilla, lemon, and Ceylon tea.

Kelly Puleio

The Felix

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Felix is the underground cocktail spot associated with hit Vietnamese restaurant Bodega. Owner Matt Ho flipped the basement into a bar where classic cocktails come prepared with Asian spirits, the Chronicle reports. If you didn’t have dinner upstairs, there’s also a food menu below including options such as tom yum-flavored Chex mix and shrimp chips.

You can certainly have a full dinner of Mexican and Persian fusion fare at this dark and moody SoMa lounge, but the swanky atmosphere also makes it a great destination for happy hour or post-dinner drinks. The cocktail list includes drinks such as the Chilosa, which blends St. George green chile vodka, cilantro, lime, coconut, and gol gav zaban, a purple flower used in Persian teas. Pair a drink with sharable plates including chips and dips or mini skewers.

Lauren Saria

Trad'r Sam's

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In late 2023, Trad’r Sam’s reopened following a months-long closure during which owners and siblings Dorothy Riedel and John Munguia took some time to update the classic tiki bar in the Richmond District. The bar remains as pleasantly retro as ever, the San Francisco Standard reports, with glowing lights and thatched roofs shading customers inside — though the somewhat problematic names over the booths are gone. Open since 1937, the divey mai tai destination claims to be the oldest tiki bar in America.

A sign that reads “Trad’r Sam.” Lauren Saria

CAVAÑA

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There’s another swanky rooftop bar open now in Mission Bay from some of the same folks behind SoMa’s Kaiyo Rooftop. Cavaña pulls inspiration from across Latin America meaning cocktails lean into flavors including hoja santa, papaya, mole spices, and poblano peppers. On the concise food menu, highlights include flaky pastel de carne, two kinds of arepas, and an asado roca — essentially a meat-filled board weighted down with steak and sausages. Make a reservation for heading over. 

Anthony Parks, Emilio & Miguel Salehi (Equal Parts Media)

The Lower Haight’s newest watering hole comes from a foursome of hospitality industry experts who helped grow Nopalito. Now they’ve turned their attention to the corner of Haight and Pierce streets, where they’re serving a menu of lean cocktails intended to straddle the line between being exciting and not too fussy. The list includes the Holy Smoke, a cocktail of Manzanilla sherry, Benedictine, and Ardbeg scotch, as well as the Katana made with Suntory Toki whiskey with Dolin Blanc vermouth and ginger eau de vie. Food comes in the form of bar bites such as peanuts brined and tossed with MSG and mala spice, potato chips dusted in dried seaweed powder and served with a miso onion dip, and a grilled beef salad. 

Brendan Mainini

Chris Gaither and Rebecca Fineman, the husband-and-wife Master Sommeliers behind Ungrafted, opened a second project at Thrive City, steps from the Chase Center. The wine bar’s globetrotting menu focuses on bottles produced with sustainable farming practices in mind, while the food selections draw inspiration from the Mediterranean.

Zha Zha Liang

Bar Gemini

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If you’re looking for a chic spot for natural wine and well-done bar snacks, then consider Bar Gemini, the new Mission District bar from owners and partners Dominique Henderson and Alex Pomerantz. They also own Gemini Bottle Shop, and Pomerantz is the mind behind Richmond-based natural wine company Subject to Change Wine Co. At this stylish spot, they’re pouring a powerful lineup of natural wines, which can be enjoyed with snacks such as marinated Rancho Gordo gigante bean or a decadent grilled cheese sandwich. Chef Brandon Rice of Michelin-starred Ernest developed the menu. 

A hand pours a glass of wine atop a terrazzo bar with plates of food around it. Alanna Hale

The Bar at Osito

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Liliana is out and the Bar at Osito is in as of January 21. The new iteration of the cocktail spot next door to Michelin-starred restaurant Osito specializes in cocktails, seafood, and house-made charcuterie, which means alongside a single-origin spirit, you can enjoy a seafood tower or fondue. Reservations can be made on Tock.

Food. Osito

Golden Sardine

Golden Sardine swam into the North Beach neighborhood in late January, with a list of wines that shines a big spotlight on Reisling (though there are other varietals available as well) and lots of tinned fish. It’s part wine bar, part wine shop, and part poetry hangout, with owner Andrew Paul Nelson bringing deep connections to the city’s literary scene to the table. “We’re all super excited about the upcoming generation of poets,” Nelson tells Eater SF.

Golden Sardine. Andrew Paul Nelson

Left Door

The Bus Stop might not be the first place that comes to mind when looking for a good cocktail in Cow Hollow. But as of late 2023, there’s a swanky lounge upstairs called the Left Door and it’s a destination for ice-cold martinis infused with Monterey Bay seaweed, olive brine, and Hog Island sea salt brine with a side of caviar. The bar encourages customers to dress to impress and limit phone usage.

The interior of Left Door, a new lounge in San Francisco, with a yellow couch, dark blue floral wallpaper, and hanging lights, very living room-esque. Left Door

Céleste

The team behind hit wine bars Bodega in North Beach and Key Klub in Lower Nob Hill has taken their talents to Union Street with the opening of their newest project Céleste. It’s another wine bar, of course, this time moving into the former West Coast Wine & Cheese space. Alongside a list that veers between funky, naturally produced selections from the New World and Old World and California standards, there’s a menu of Greek-inspired bites such as dips and grilled skewers. 

Holbrook House

Holbrook House, the uber-luxurious new restaurant and bar on the ground floor of the One Sansome building, serves coffee by day and a full food menu at night — but it also hopes to be a destination for post-work drinks. Case in point: some tables come equipped with switches to summon either a Champagne or a martini cart. Customers can then choose from a selection of gins and vermouths, a rotating cast of bitters, and house-made garnishes.

Matthew Millman

Starlite

Harry Denton’s Starlight Room makes a comeback on February 2, now called simply, Starlite, but still perched atop a hotel near Union Square. Head to the top of the Beacon Grand for a cocktail menu by talented local bartender Scott Baird and a menu of small bites from Washington, D.C.-based chef Johnny Spero. The space has been updated with lush green chairs, ample velvet, and many tassels — and, of course, the views cannot be beat. 

Patricia Chang

Dawn Club

Downtown San Francisco might be struggling to rebound from the pandemic, but Dawn Club, a stunning new bar and jazz club could be a sign that some sectors are thriving. Open since May, the bar comes from prolific local nightlife company Future Bars, who invested in reviving the historic Monadnock building on Market Street. Swing through – though you’d be wise to make a reservation — for regular live music and an extensive selection of whiskey including high-end options such as Pappy Van Winkle, if you’re into that.

Dawn Club

The Harlequin

New SoMa bar the Harlequin brings big Gatsby vibes to the historic Mosser Building on 4th Street between Market and Mission. Bar pro Phil Chen, also behind Members Only and the Alchemist, aimed to set the backdrop for a 1920s-style party, one where customers can enjoy a pizza or Thai shrimp pasta with a cocktail. The bar shakes up some of the usual suspects including an espresso martini and an ube colada, but there are also drinks unique to the Harlequin such as the Rhinestone Cowboy made with Jack Daniels, Meletti amaro, sasparilla, lemon, and Ceylon tea.

Kelly Puleio

The Felix

Felix is the underground cocktail spot associated with hit Vietnamese restaurant Bodega. Owner Matt Ho flipped the basement into a bar where classic cocktails come prepared with Asian spirits, the Chronicle reports. If you didn’t have dinner upstairs, there’s also a food menu below including options such as tom yum-flavored Chex mix and shrimp chips.

Movida

You can certainly have a full dinner of Mexican and Persian fusion fare at this dark and moody SoMa lounge, but the swanky atmosphere also makes it a great destination for happy hour or post-dinner drinks. The cocktail list includes drinks such as the Chilosa, which blends St. George green chile vodka, cilantro, lime, coconut, and gol gav zaban, a purple flower used in Persian teas. Pair a drink with sharable plates including chips and dips or mini skewers.

Lauren Saria

Trad'r Sam's

In late 2023, Trad’r Sam’s reopened following a months-long closure during which owners and siblings Dorothy Riedel and John Munguia took some time to update the classic tiki bar in the Richmond District. The bar remains as pleasantly retro as ever, the San Francisco Standard reports, with glowing lights and thatched roofs shading customers inside — though the somewhat problematic names over the booths are gone. Open since 1937, the divey mai tai destination claims to be the oldest tiki bar in America.

A sign that reads “Trad’r Sam.” Lauren Saria

CAVAÑA

There’s another swanky rooftop bar open now in Mission Bay from some of the same folks behind SoMa’s Kaiyo Rooftop. Cavaña pulls inspiration from across Latin America meaning cocktails lean into flavors including hoja santa, papaya, mole spices, and poblano peppers. On the concise food menu, highlights include flaky pastel de carne, two kinds of arepas, and an asado roca — essentially a meat-filled board weighted down with steak and sausages. Make a reservation for heading over. 

Anthony Parks, Emilio & Miguel Salehi (Equal Parts Media)

Stoa

The Lower Haight’s newest watering hole comes from a foursome of hospitality industry experts who helped grow Nopalito. Now they’ve turned their attention to the corner of Haight and Pierce streets, where they’re serving a menu of lean cocktails intended to straddle the line between being exciting and not too fussy. The list includes the Holy Smoke, a cocktail of Manzanilla sherry, Benedictine, and Ardbeg scotch, as well as the Katana made with Suntory Toki whiskey with Dolin Blanc vermouth and ginger eau de vie. Food comes in the form of bar bites such as peanuts brined and tossed with MSG and mala spice, potato chips dusted in dried seaweed powder and served with a miso onion dip, and a grilled beef salad. 

Brendan Mainini

GluGlu

Chris Gaither and Rebecca Fineman, the husband-and-wife Master Sommeliers behind Ungrafted, opened a second project at Thrive City, steps from the Chase Center. The wine bar’s globetrotting menu focuses on bottles produced with sustainable farming practices in mind, while the food selections draw inspiration from the Mediterranean.

Zha Zha Liang

Bar Gemini

If you’re looking for a chic spot for natural wine and well-done bar snacks, then consider Bar Gemini, the new Mission District bar from owners and partners Dominique Henderson and Alex Pomerantz. They also own Gemini Bottle Shop, and Pomerantz is the mind behind Richmond-based natural wine company Subject to Change Wine Co. At this stylish spot, they’re pouring a powerful lineup of natural wines, which can be enjoyed with snacks such as marinated Rancho Gordo gigante bean or a decadent grilled cheese sandwich. Chef Brandon Rice of Michelin-starred Ernest developed the menu. 

A hand pours a glass of wine atop a terrazzo bar with plates of food around it. Alanna Hale

The Bar at Osito

Liliana is out and the Bar at Osito is in as of January 21. The new iteration of the cocktail spot next door to Michelin-starred restaurant Osito specializes in cocktails, seafood, and house-made charcuterie, which means alongside a single-origin spirit, you can enjoy a seafood tower or fondue. Reservations can be made on Tock.

Food. Osito

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