Food & Drink

SF's 10 Best Bars Where You Can Stay Cozy & Ditch the Fog This Winter

Published On 12/09/2016 Published On 12/09/2016
the vestry sf
The Vestry | Nathan Bennett

Fireside Bar

Inner Sunset

When you see fire in the name, you know you’re in the right place. This is where you go when you’re ready to fight off the San Francisco chill, push Karl the Fog to the side, and hunker down for some serious warmth. Candlelight and a fireplace keeps it nice and golden inside, while dark wood and low lights makes it the perfect spot to snuggle up with a date. Or enjoy a slightly rowdier vibe on game-days, when Fireside Bar shows sports on their mega-screens. Either way, make sure to snag some of the comfy seating situated right beside the centrally located fireplace and fight off that chill with flames and fierce cocktails.

El Techo

El Techo

Mission

Searching for a heated rooftop in San Francisco is like trying to find a mermaid riding side-saddle on a unicorn. El Techo has breathtaking views of the Mission, and its steamy heat lamps offer a series of hot spots to gather under as you take in the sights. The menu of Latin American street foods is full of classic small plates like platanos, chile rellenos, and ceviche which pair perfectly with their abundant cocktail list. Stave off the wintery chill (ahem, year-round mist) with a happy hour drinks and pitchers of sangria from 4 to 6pm on weekdays, or check out the mouthwatering al fresco brunch on weekends from 11am to 3pm.

Twenty Five Lusk

Twenty Five Lusk

SoMa

Sleek modern fireplaces are situated throughout this swanky lounge, surrounded by a contemporary circle of comfortable couches. Architect Cass Calder Smith created the ideal fireplace-away-from-home setting, where you can snuggle up by floating silver orbs filled with flames. Unlike many of the fireplace spots in San Francisco, which tend to have more of a neighborhood bar vibe, Twenty Five Lusk is upscale and a solid go-to for a few rounds of fancy cocktails on a first date. Toggle between classic and modern with their two drinks menus, one for old-school cocktails and one for fresh seasonal faves. 'Tis the season for Old Fashioneds around the fireplace, and the bar offers two glorious odes to rye with their classic Rye Old Fashioned and 25 Lusk New Old Fashioned.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

The Homestead

Mission

Welcome to everything you want in a neighborhood bar, complete with a snuggle-worthy little fireplace tucked in the back. The Homestead has a warm, low-lit, vintage vibe with a pressed tin ceiling and giant nude paintings. It feels like your friendly local Victorian pub, except way bawdier and chock full of puppies. It’s dog friendly, so deck out fido in his favorite doggie duds and bring him along for a canine and human happy hour. The Homestead is also open late, seven days a week and serves up legendarily strong cocktails. Beat the fog, beat the frost, and curl up by the flames with a Manhattan and your new best dog friend.

Flickr/Jan Mark Holzer

Dirty Habit

SoMa

Dirty Habit hovers five stories above SoMa, floating far away from the hustle and bustle of the busy sidewalks and busy (chilly) everyday life. Get away from it all, vertically, with outdoor drinks at Dirty Habit’s outdoor patio with several fireplaces and heat lamps. Yup layered-up friends, you can even strip off the coat as you sip a cocktail at this sleek heated enclave in the sky. The focus here is on brown liquors, and the gargantuan cocktail list offers plenty of options including a menu of mega-cocktails to share (including the Crazy Zamba, made with Novo Fogo cachaca, Calamansi citrus, basil, Huana, prosecco), so your party can get properly sloshed en masse. Seasonal ingredients pop up in cocktails and delicious bites alike, so order up a round of shareable plates to munch on as you thaw out. Take a tiny vacation, just for a couple hours, and enjoy this sleek heated enclave in the sky.  

Courtesy of Blackthorn Tavern

Blackthorn

Inner Sunset

Sprawling Blackthorn has it all: a full roster of live bands, giant pool tables, huge screens airing the most crucial games, and a rowdy trivia night. As you stumble through this world of bar delights, head to the back for Blackthorn’s tucked-way heated patio. It’s a tiny spot, but it’s a warm oasis if you need a break from bar noise or just want to enjoy a few beers in close quarters with your crew. The vibe is decidedly more relaxed and the heating will keep you toasty as you enjoy some fresh air. There are always a few barrel-aged cocktails in rotation here -- we like the Boulevardier, made with Dickel Rye, Campari, vermouth, and an orange peel -- and what goes better with cozy seating than a fine aged drink?

Courtesy of Maven

Maven

Lower Haight

So, thirsty caveman, you’ve stumbled upon fire but you need to find the perfect drinks and bar foods to pair with those sweet, sweet flames. Hit the upstairs lounge at Maven for a round of sublime cocktails and snacks, served up as you park it on the cozy seating that surrounds the fireplace. The warm, lively atmosphere permeates the whole bar, but the full-blast heat is best found when you grab a seat by the fire. Take a tour of the cocktail menu, which is chock full of inventive flavor combinations like the Head Full of Bees (pisco, vermouth, asian pear, lemon, honey, and pinot noir) or Hometown Vixen (bourbon, pistachio, orange, and black pepper), that will have you ordering a second round way as you finish your first sip. Shareable plates packed with seasonal ingredients will round out your fireside drink experience.

Courtesy of The Vestry

The Vestry

Mission

If the Vestry isn’t already in your Mission bar rotation, you’re missing out on the opportunity to swill some strong sips outside without freezing. As the slightly-warm day transforms into the far, far chillier night, The Vestry is the perfect place to stay coatless and cocktail-ed without devolving into shivers. The outdoor patio gets the heat lamps buzzing at night and features a “Sinner’s Happy Hour” every Tuesday through Friday from 5 - 7pm, where you can bask in the warm outdoor glow after the sun sets. Craft cocktails, including bourbon-based favorite Nail in the Coffin, and a major wine list makes this a can’t-miss location.

Flickr/Todd Lappin

Iron & Gold

Bernal Heights

What could be more comforting than a roaring fire and hot buttered rum? No, you haven’t stumbled into a Norman Rockwell Christmas card. If it’s the holiday season in San Francisco, Iron & Gold is serving up festive classic buttery rum, and they’ve got fireplace seating to add to this deeply warm cocktail scene. A constantly evolving menu full of themed drinks means that even when the season isn’t turning towards mistletoe and a lack of snowflakes, this is still the place to be. The bar’s motto is “Let our home become your second home,” and you’ll feel extra homey lounging next to the fireplace during the five hour long happy hour from 4 to 9pm.

Courtesy of Bacchus Kirk

Bacchus Kirk

Lower Nob Hill

Bacchus Kirk boasts all of the amenities of an ideal neighborhood bar, including a great fireplace. Smokers are welcome on the outdoor smoking porch, an awesome jukebox keeps the atmosphere fun and perfectly soundtracked, while a pool table will help you stay busy as you soak up those drink specials. Bacchus Kirk airs football games every Monday night, if you want to enjoy the game in a way cozier spot than your own fireplace-free living room. Sundays feature an all-day happy hour for the chilly day drinker.

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1. Fireside Bar 603 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122 (Inner Sunset)

In so many ways, Fireside Bar embodies the Inner Sunset ethos: A comfortable welcoming hideout from Irving Street’s many shops and eateries, nothing flashy besides the super stiff drinks, and a dog friendly hangout for the people of one of the last affordable neighborhoods in SF. There are even dimly lit nooks to get cozy with your boo (or hide from your ex).

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2. El Techo de Lolinda 2518 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

El Techo, the more casual version of the downstairs Argentinean steakhouse Lolinda, serves Latin American street food and pitchers of margaritas. You’re gonna want to get the chicharrones de carne, which come in half pound, one pound, or one and a half pound orders (in other words, you'll need to come with friends). These aren’t your basic sidewalk cracklin's -- these are massive fried chunks of roasted pork shoulder that you’ll devour with housemade tortillas, lime, salsa, and escabeche meant to be enjoyed alongside one of the best rooftop views San Francisco has to offer.

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3. Twenty Five Lusk 25 Lusk St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

Housed in a brick and timber SoMa warehouse erected in 1917, Twenty Five Lusk, few San Francisco bars deliver this combination of staggering size and striking beauty, . with 20ft-high ceilings, ample plush leather seating, and, the piece de resistance: stainless steel hanging fireplaces. But avert your eyes from the ambiance for a second, because you'll have to choose from a selection of 250-plus wines and elevated fare like fried burrata or braised rabbit and chevre ravioli.

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4. Homestead 2301 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Harkening back to its Prohibition-era glory, this storied Mission bar is still armed with infamously strong cocktails like, an excellent whiskey selection, and peanuts -- the scattered shells of which will crunch under your feet. It's easy to get cozy inside Homestead's Victorian-style parlor, which sports a pressed tin ceiling, giant nude paintings, and (best of all) a small, snuggle-worthy fireplace tucked in the back of the low-lit space. The bar is dog-friendly, too, so even your pup can become a regular.

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5. Dirty Habit 12 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Union Square)

Dirty Habit is intimately hidden away on the fifth floor of Union Square's Hotel Palomar. The sultry bar and restaurant features seasonal cocktails (plus all of the classics) and an extensive selection of spirits, especially whiskey. Standout bar bites include house-made bar nuts and finger-licking good chicken wings doused in sweet soy and chili vinaigrette. The back patio has tons of seating, a fountain, and a fire pit. Take our word: this place is cool.

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6. Blackthorn Tavern 834 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122 (Inner Sunset)

Live bands, giant pool tables, huge TVs, and a rowdy trivia night all ensure that you'll stay entertained at this sprawling Inner Sunset pub. Head to the back for Blackthorn's tucked-away (and heated, in colder temps) patio: a small oasis that lets you escape from the bar noise if you're looking for a more relaxed night over some domestic or imported draft beers. In addition to brews, there's always a solid lineup of barrel-aged cocktails in rotation here, including the Boulevardier, aged for two months in-house, made with rye, campari, and vermouth, and garnished with an orange peel.

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7. Maven 598 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

Maven is a chic bar and restaurant in Lower Haight that pairs all of its dishes with different cocktails. The highlight of the menu is the burger, which begins with beef that's ground with a few dashes of angostura bitters and is paired with the Mr. Wiggles cocktail, made with bourbon, amaro, vermouth, and bitters. The bar's morning cocktails make it a popular brunch spot, as do the duck hash and Bananas Foster French toast. The seating is all communal, and the best seats in the house are either on the second-floor loft or at the chef's counter.

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8. The Vestry 777 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Under the same roof as the historic music venue, The Chapel, you can find an equally historic bar and restaurant in a former funeral parlor where you can stop for a burger before the show, grab a cocktail after, or claim a seat on the heated patio for brunch. Important note on said brunch: fried chicken with biscuits smothered in pepper jelly and bottomless mimosas are involved.

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9. Iron & Gold 3187 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (Bernal Heights)

Iron & Gold is a cozy, old-school tavern on the border of Bernal Heights and the Mission offering up stiff drinks in a den outfitted with salvaged wood panels, forest-green walls, and low lights. The bar’s motto is “let our home become your second home,” and it's easy to accept that invitation when you can lounge next to its fireplace with some hot buttered rum in winter. Even when Jack Frost isn't nipping at your nose, the constantly evolving roster of themed drinks here makes this a neighborhood go-to, particularly when concoctions like 'Til Six in the Morning (gin, elderflower, lime, grapefruit, and ginger beer) are on the menu.

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10. Bacchus Kirk 925 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Bacchus Kirk has all the characteristics of an ideal neighborhood watering hole, including a fireplace, a pool table, drink specials, an outdoor smoking porch, and a jukebox that keeps the atmosphere upbeat. While you're grooving to throwback tunes, you can throw back local & imported draft beers and cheap signature cocktails, such as the Raspberry & Basil Collins, and the Bacchus Julep with bourbon, apricot brandy, and mint leaves. During football season, this cozy Nob Hill dive shows games every Monday night, which lets you watch in a way comfier space than your fireplace-less living room.