San Francisco is home to an impressive number of bars with cozy-meets-sophisticated charm. The brisk Bay Area weather is perfect for settling in with good drinks, great people, and fantastic eats on a heated patio or in a wood-walled pub. We pulled this list by looking at anonymized trip data to see where San Francisco riders spent their last Thanksgiving eve. What are you waiting for? It’s time to raise a glass to the holiday season with old friends.
San Francisco bars to visit on Thanksgiving Eve
1. Balboa Cafe
A classic wood-panelled interior, impeccably made cocktails, and burgers on baguettes are the calling cards at this Marina bar. The vintage neon sign gives off a vibe as warm as the service, and you’ll never wait for a drink at this expertly staffed bar and restaurant. Try a Pliny the Elder Double IPA or perfectly spiced bloody mary.
Where: 3199 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA
SPSMB is a great place to catch up with friends before filling up on all the holiday fixings. The tasty cocktails and impressive beer list explain why the San Jose bar is always buzzing with couples, groups, and solo drinkers. Most everyone will love the flavorful margaritas or the vodka-based Hang Glider blended with fresh fruit. There’s a decent wine selection as well, and you can pick up food from nearby vendors to enjoy with your drinks.
Where: 87 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA
Ward off late-fall chills with Irish coffee at this San Francisco institution. Buena Vista brought this cold-weather classic to the States in 1952 as part of a colorful collaboration between BVC’s former owner, a travel writer and the city’s then-mayor. You’ll be glad this unlikely team perfected their re-creation of a coffee drink discovered at an Irish airport; it’s a wonderful accompaniment to this charming haunt’s all-day breakfast items.
Where: 2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA
4. The Brixton
The Brixton is a lively lounge that serves tasty food in a beautiful, study-like atmosphere. Arrive early so you can talk about old times over shared plates of demoned eggs, a gourmet take on deviled eggs. Evenings can get noisy here, so go later if you’re meeting up with a big group or want to dance instead of chat. Satisfy a savory beverage craving with the mouthwatering spicy margarita.
Where: 2140 Union St, San Francisco, CA
Burger lovers will marvel at the mouthwatering concoction that is the Wood Grilled Hamburger. Paired with a beer cocktail, it’s the perfect pre-holiday meeting-with-friends meal. Unique drinks and next-level porkchops are a few of the notable menu items at this popular Alamo Square bar and restaurant.
Where: 560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA
6. Harper & Rye
This is the place for out-of-the-ordinary libations. Impress out-of-town friends or bond with childhood pals over the discovery of an obscure booze brand. Harper & Rye serves hard-to-find beers, wines, and spirits, while bartenders here work their cocktail-making magic. The bar is dimly lit, and the contemporary rustic decor helps create a relaxed vibe.
Where: 1695 Polk St, San Francisco, CA
Come for the dancing, but stay for the drinks and amazing bartenders. The fun-loving crowd and perfectly crafted drinks make it an excellent LGBTQ destination any night of the week. The Beaux-Tox is a breath of fresh air with its base of cucumber vodka and St. Germain finished with tropical touches and a cucumber-wheel garnish.
Where: 2344 Market St, San Francisco, CA
There’s bacon, bacon everywhere at The Tipsy Pig. Whether wrapped around scallops atop luscious risotto or stuffed into creamy mac and cheese, pork is the star of the wonderful menu here. The food draws rave reviews, but this Marina bar and restaurant makes a mean cocktail (try the English Fashion) and pours three sizes of highly rated beers, the smallest of which is the Piglet.
Where: 2231 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA
9. Playland Bar
Meet friends for a wild, sweaty night of dancing at Playland. Burn calories on the dance floor at this Nob Hill club before pigging out at Thanksgiving dinner. Or just chat the night away downstairs over Strawberry Basil Martinis. Guys, take note of the post-10 pm dress code when no hats or shorts are allowed.
Where: 1351 Polk St, San Francisco, CA
This Mediterranean restaurant in the Financial District offers a rare combination of traits that come together to form the perfect dining experience. The food is truly exceptional, while the service and rustic decor are warm and inviting. The oven-roasted branzino and veggies are typical of the refined yet accessible menu at Kokkari Estiatorio; start with the feta-stuffed, olive-topped, fennel-spiked calamari. Kokkari offers a nice selection of wines by the glass.
Where: 200 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA
How many bars can you name that boast an occasional aerialist, free photo booth, multiple dance floors and competition-quality drinks? Monarch is actually more of an upscale lounge and music venue that’s an ideal meeting spot for you and your friends this holiday season. The beer selection is nice and affordable.
Where: 101 6th St, San Francisco, CA
From Mediterranean cuisine to a crazy night of dancing, find the perfect meeting point for your pre-Thanksgiving plans. San Francisco’s food and drink scene has something for everyone, so take your pick of hot spots and laid-back lounges. Whether you opt for elegant cocktails or kick back with some beers in a casual atmosphere, make the most of your time with friends at these popular hangouts.