The Best Bar Food in San Francisco

Tips and Guides, Food, California,
13/Feb/2018

For those that are busy planning their upcoming trip to San Francisco, you will be happy to hear that the Californian city has a thriving food scene with many wonderful places to enjoy a delicious meal during your stay. It’s not just top restaurants that SF has to offer, however, as there are a number of truly great bars in town that you have to try. A package cruise deal to California will delight in many ways but to complete the adventure, make sure you stop by a few of the below to experience the very best bar food in San Francisco.

Comstock Saloon

Comstock Saloon Burger

Image credit: Lindsey Rice

Want to consume one or two (or seven) craft cocktails during your trip to San Francisco? Well, Comstock Saloon more than fits the bill, providing a classy environment for enjoying your drinks as well as some excellent nourishment from chef Jason Raffin. This classic bar is kitted out with antique features, an original mahogany bar from 1907, and even a 150-year old absinthe fountain.

The folks behind this terrific San Francisco establishment have provided us with an appetising taste of what visitors can expect: “Comstock Saloon offers an eclectic mix of classic San Francisco fare re-imagined through a global lens of ingredients and flavours. With a location on the edge of North Beach and Chinatown, the food is recognizably American with hints of Asian flare and technique. The classic cocktails pair perfectly with the dinner menu for our varied clientele of diners, drinkers and music lovers (enjoying our free nightly jazz bands).

“Prime examples of the style of food include the Comstock Burger with a homemade Nori-Togarashi seeded bun served with malt vinegar chips on the sandwich, Shrimp Louie Lettuce Wraps with pickled mango, Lo-Mein Cacio e Pepe and Fried Calamari with tobiko aioli.”        

And if you happen to be in town on a Friday, free lunches are available at Comstock Saloon with the purchase of two adult beverages. 

District

Pizza at District San Francisco

Found in the South Beach neighbourhood of San Francisco, District is the place to be for fine whiskey and some truly fabulous pizza dishes. Also including one of SF’s most diverse wine programmes, an evening at District is an appealing prospect indeed. For a little more insight, District spoke to us about what makes them such a great spot for bar food in San Francisco:

“District shines as a spot for bar food because of its diverse small plates menu which is paired perfectly with its unmatched wine and whiskey selection. But District also stands out for its timeless decor...housed in an early 20th century brick and timber warehouse, District is accented by a large horse-shoe shaped, Brazilian wood bar at the centre of the room. The bar is anchored by a beautiful wine and whiskey tower.”

And regarding the delights of their menu, District told us: “District's menu is a combination of year round staples and seasonal items. The common thread is that all items are shareable and designed to pair with any of the over 100 wines and whiskies that District offers. Everything is made in house including our long list of charcuterie. The must try items include our devilled eggs, tempura avocado, lamb meatballs, Margherita pizza (pictured above) and bourbon bread pudding.”

San Francisco Athletic Club

san francisco athletic club

With a full bar, local wine, great beer, cocktails, and, of course, tasty bar food, San Francisco Athletic Club will be a wonderful stop on your search for the best bar food in the city. A watering hole that centres on the communal joy of experiencing a big sporting game, the blend at SFAC between entertainment and quality grub is perfectly balanced.

We heard from San Francisco Athletic Club themselves about what visitors to their establishment can expect: “SFAC prides itself on having an elevated take on sports bar food. There are too many sports bars with sub-par food and there is no reason for a sports bar not to have amazing food also. So we couldn't not have a Club sandwich on our menu and our Athletic Club Sandwich is a fan favourite with beautiful fresh grilled chicken breast, bacon, tomato, avocado, romaine lettuce and aioli, all on a ciabatta roll! Our salads are also fantastic and would compete with any restaurant in San Francisco. And of course our Wings (the staple of a good sports bar), with 5 flavours, are by far the best in the city!

“We also have 27 TVs with two 80" screens and to kick it all off we serve bathtubs of beer!”

Old Bus Tavern

Old Bus Tavern

Image credit: Peter Lee

With beers brewed right on site, adventurous cocktails, and some of the absolute best bar food anywhere in San Francisco, Old Bus Tavern at 3193 Mission Street is an absolute must visit establishment during your trip. With dishes to please every taste and renditions of all-time bar favourites, guests won’t be disappointed.

Old Bus Tavern kindly spoke to us about the bar to help paint the scene a little further: “At Old Bus Tavern, we try to provide a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere that feels like you're hanging out at a friend's house or even your own living room. Our ‘casually refined’ bar food menu pairs great with our fresh beers brewed in-house, live music performances (Thursday - Saturday), and our cosy neighbourhood vibe.”

And regarding their menu and must-try dishes, Old Bus Tavern revealed: “Much like our beers, our food menu is designed to be comforting and approachable, but still balanced and elevated to the level that San Franciscans expect. Whether you're an omnivore or vegetarian, our aim is to satisfy without weighing you down. Our must-try dishes include the famous Cheeseburger with salt & vinegar shoestring fries, the Fish Tacos with avocado salsa and al pastor aioli, and the Soft Pretzel Bites served with cheddar beer sauce and spicy beer mustard (both made with house-brewed beer).”

Horsefeather

Horsefeather burger

The low-key tavern known as Horsefeather is truly the perfect spot to stop by for some top grub and fine cocktails – a rather popular San Francisco experience that must be tried while in town. Describing themselves as a casual gathering place, Horsefeather takes great joy in serving up both full meals and plates ready to share with family and friends.

Horsefeather told us: “With a kitchen that stays open late until 1am every night, located in the bustling NOPA neighbourhood, the abundant experience at the front and back of the house produces a remarkable atmosphere.”

Horsefeather interior

Regarding their vibrant menu and most popular dishes, the bar said: “Horsefeather presents new American style cuisine, with approachable, elevated dishes, that go beyond the complexity of typical bar fare. We serve ‘Crab Mac and Cheese’ with Dungeness crab, crab butter, Kimchi, and togarashi, and ‘Duck Leg Confit’ with charred broccoli rabe, polenta, black trumpets, kumquat glaze, and duck jus.

“However, the dish that people come for day and night has to be our ‘Double Cheeseburger’. Though this dish sounds familiar, it is far from pedestrian. Our burger starts with the patty, which consists of a blend of short rib, brisket, and chuck, served on a house baked sweet potato bun, topped with American cheese, lettuce, house smoked red onion, and of course our special sauce, which brings an exciting tangy heat element to the dish. Horsefeather has far surpassed the neighbourhood watering hole title, and has found a lasting place among the San Francisco bar and restaurant scene.”

The Taco Shop at Underdogs

Taco Shop at Underdogs

If, during your trip to San Francisco, you feel the urge to soak up some local sport but would rather do it from the comfort of a vibrant and energetic bar, one should certainly head on down to The Taco Shop at Underdogs. Lined with flat screen TVs showing every game you could possibly want to see, and of course some delicious tacos, this has a great chance of becoming your favourite SF joint. For fans of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, The Taco Shop will certainly put a smile on your face, with the menu containing quite literally something for everyone. An impressive collection to be sure, and more than a match for the jubilant atmosphere on game night.

Taco food

The Dorian

A visit to The Dorian on 2001 Chestnut St. will quickly reveal itself to be quite the exquisite dining experience and perhaps a little fancier than your typical bar excursion. Harkening back to times of old, The Dorian styles itself as a modern day parlour for “libertines” and “freethinkers”. Boasting some truly sumptuous classic American foods, along with a top selection of fine whiskey and craft martinis, your stop at The Dorian will definitely be well catered. The menu is quite the sight, and includes dishes such as truffle fries, pastrami meatballs, and buttermilk chicken sliders, providing plenty of choice for hungry diners.

Golden Gate bridge San Francisco

Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen

Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen on 401 Taylor Street delights its patrons with myriad rotating beers on tap and a selection of sublime cocktails. Jasper’s isn’t just a top location for a night of friendly drinks, however, as they also serve up some top notch bar food to help complete the experience. Jasper’s take great pride in the fact that they use locally sourced ingredients to create their must-try American cuisine. A local favourite, and boasting a mean brunch menu as well, pairing some exquisitely baked chicken wings with a beer or two at Jasper’s is the real deal when it comes to bar outings in SF.

bar interior

Enjoying San Francisco’s bar scene

There are many places to enjoy a nice meal in SF, and lots of great spots for a pleasant drink, but for that very specific desire of consuming some top-notch bar food, the above listed establishments truly stand out and we hope one or two will feature on your San Francisco itinerary.