3. North Beach
Essential bars: 15 Romolo, Park Tavern, Church Key, La Trappe
Any glance at a map will tell you that North Beach takes up a huge swath of territory in betwixt Russian Hill, Fisherman’s Wharf, Jackson Square, and the Embarcadero. And any glance at the normal mix of tourists and other JV revelers who pack in on the weekends will tell you the reason why this classic 'hood won’t get higher than three. That said, SF’s bronze drinking 'hood has a treasure trove of great bars if you know where to look, from one of the old-school standbys in the city’s cocktail scene (15 Romolo), to three beer-soaked gems (La Trappe, Church Key, and Rogue), to two very good restaurant/bar scenes at Original Joe’s and Park Tavern. Savoy Tivoli is a neighborhood legend for weekend jazz since before the Great War, and I haven’t even named likely half a dozen other bars with live music, decent beers, and somewhat of a scene. Though unless you actively seek out mayhem, it’s usually better to hit North Beach during the week.