San Francisco Dive Bar Guide

Rich Network of Neighborhoods, Rich Patchwork of Dives

Few cities can rival San Francisco’s ability to wildly transform itself from neighborhood to neighborhood, a patchwork of connected but wholly distinct districts with their own cultures, residents and dive bars. And that kind of distinct local flavor layers on top of San Francisco’s innate uniqueness, creating a confluence of factors that create differentiated, iconic dive bars throughout the city.

Maybe the city’s best example is Li Po Cocktail Lounge, a Chinatown institution changed little since opening in 1937. An Anthony Bourdain favorite, the dive bar’s signature Chinese Mai Tai offering has knocked more than one patron sideways, all of it taking place under a renovated, beautiful piece of dive bar neon that must be seen.

Given the California location, it should come as no surprise that tiki bars have long held a place in San Francisco drinking culture, Trad’r Sam chief among them, staking a claim as the oldest operating tiki bar in the United States. Though the vibe here over the years has been more dive bar with tiki theme rather than a true tiki destination, those days are changing as the dive bar further embraces its tiki roots (which are so old that they predate even the concept of a “tiki bar”).

The city’s deep love affair with art, artists and all things bohemian is best exemplified at Vesuvio Café, a dive bar that is more the organic expression of an artist’s collective than a bar that just happened to attract poets and writers. Famously, Jack Kerouac drank here and drank here extensively, using the site as a backdrop in his novel Big Sur.

And unique gems can be found throughout San Francisco, even in the reaches of Outer Richmond, where the mixture of buildings leans more heavily into short-story residences. Here, The 500 Club hangs maybe the city’s most impressive piece of dive bar neon signage above the front door, a massive martini glass atop the name of the bar.

All together, few cities can match the wild differences between equally epic dive bars offered by San Francisco, the unmatched traits of the region expressed in unique, divey ways across the city’s many neighborhoods.

San Francisco Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Chinatown

Buddha Lounge

901 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
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Chinatown

Li Po Cocktail Lounge

916 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
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Chinatown

Spec's Twelve Adler Museum Café

12 William Saroyan Place
San Francisco, CA 94133
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Chinatown

Vesuvio Café

255 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
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Inner Richmond

The Bitter End

441 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
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Lower Haight

Noc Noc

557 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
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Marina

Horseshoe Tavern

2024 Chestnut St
San Francisco, CA 94123
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Mission

Bender's Bar & Grill

806 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mission

Clooney's Pub

1401 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mission

Dovre Club

1498 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mission

El Rio

3158 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mission

Phone Booth

1398 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mission

The 500 Club

500 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mission

Uptown

200 Capp St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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North Beach

The Saloon

1232 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
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Outer Richmond

Hockey Haven

3625 Balboa St #2603
San Francisco, CA 94121
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Outer Richmond

Trad'r Sam

6150 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
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Russian Hill

Black Horse London Pub

1514 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123
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Soma

Butter

354 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
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Tenderloin

The Geary Club

768 Geary St
San Francisco, CA 94109
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Other Dive Bar Options

Aunt Charlie's Lounge

133 Turk St
San Francisco, CA 94102
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Bow Bow Cocktail Lounge

1155 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
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Cinch Saloon

1723 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
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Doc's Clock

2417 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Flanahan's Pub

3805 Noriega St
San Francisco, CA 94122
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Gino & Carlo

548 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133
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Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge

1569 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
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Hearth Bar

4701 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94118
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Hole in the Wall Saloon

1369 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103
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Hotel Utah Saloon

500 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107
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Kilowatt

3160 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
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Knockout

3223 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Kozy Kar

1548 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
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Latin American Club

3286 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Mauna Loa Club

3009 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94123
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Miraloma Club

749 Portola Dr
San Francisco, CA 94127
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Mission Bar

2697 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Molotov's

582 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
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O'Keeffe's Bar

5th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94118
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Philosopher's Club

824 Ulloa St
San Francisco, CA 94127
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Silver Spur

1914 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
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The Page

298 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
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The Riptide

3639 Taraval St
San Francisco, CA 94116
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The Royal Cuckoo

3202 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
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The Rumpus Room

10 6th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
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Toronado

547 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
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Wild Side West

424 Cortland Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
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Zam Zam

1633 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
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