Food & Drink

The SF Streetcar Drinking Guide

Published On 05/20/2014 Published On 05/20/2014
Joe Starkey

Because MUNI weirdly doesn't have them listed on its route map, here's the best place to drink near every stop on SF's historic F-Market streetcar line.

All of the spots on here 1) serve alcohol (duh), 2) are within a block of the designated stop, and 3) aren't in *shudder* Fisherman's Wharf... which we omitted because Fisherman's Wharf is the worst. Let's do this!

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 17th & Castro
The Spot: Twin Peaks Tavern (click here for address and info)
Covered in our guide to the Castro, this historic landmark of a bar has two levels and Irish coffees good enough to make it hard to safely navigate between said two levels. If you're gonna make this a bar crawl (dude, you should make this into a bar crawl), this is the end you wanna start on.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 16th & Noe
The Spot: Super Duper (click here for address and info)
Not only is this one of San Francisco's best burger chains, but it's also one of San Francisco's best places to get tap beers and a good base of food before getting too far along in a 22-bar streetcar bar crawl.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 15th & Sanchez
The Spot: Hi Tops (click here for address and info)
Because where else can you drink a pitcher of beer and a cocktail with Muscle Milk in it, while sitting on a set of bleachers? Oh that's right, nowhere. Bonus: if you ignored our Super Duper food advice, they've got a fantastic fried chicken sandwich and wings from a former Top Chef-er.

Grant Marek

The Stop: 14th & Church
The Spot: Churchill (click here for address and info)
Get literally any cocktail here (and by "literally any cocktail" ,we mean very specifically the Jennie Jerome From Brooklyn), and make sure to bring a friend for a pool partner and/or taking your new profile picture in front of the American flag.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Dolores & Duboce
The Spot: The Mint Karaoke Lounge (click here for address and info)
Sub-$5 beers, sub-$6 whiskey shots, plus one of the coolest karaoke twists in the city: they stream performances live to the TVs in the bar.

Orbit Room

The Stop: Laguna & Guererro
The Spot: Orbit Room Cafe (click here for address and info)
This oft-overlooked bar (because it's not really near anything else) at the intersection of Upper Market/Castro/Mission actually has surprisingly good drinks as of late, and a worth-trying pizza station. Make sure to grab a Pimm's Cup. And after that, a bourbon and basil.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Haight & Gough
The Spot: Zuni Cafe (click here for address and info)
Yes, this is a little classier than most of the places in this guide, and yes again, there aren't exactly stools at the copper-topped bar, but there are Balsamic Bloody Marys... and that's really all that matters, isn't it?


The Stop: Van Ness
The Spot: Ma-velous (click here for address and info)
If you can get past the name, this place is actually a pretty well-hidden gem. It's technically more of a coffee bar than it is a wine bar (even though they bill it as both), but the interior is super cozy (sit in the makeshift living room), there are 50+ wines available, and (best part alert!) they've got a pet turtle!

Sam's Diner

The Stop: 9th & Larkin
The Spot: Sam's Diner (click here for address and info)
Two important things you need to know about Sam's: 1) their tagline is "The Flavors of the City" (?), and 2) they have $3 bar drinks (including 21st Amendment beers and Bloody Marys) from 3-6pm, Mon-Fri.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 8th & Hyde

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 7th & Jones

The Stop: 6th & Taylor
The Spot: Showdogs (click here for address and info)
All of the press for this Mid-Market spot revolves around its house-made sausages (and deservedly so, they're awesome), but its bar actually deserves way more ink than it gets, thanks to a super-legit tap list that includes stuff like 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon, Iron Maiden's Trooper, and Lagunitas' Little Sumpin' Sumpin'.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 5th & Powell
The Spot: Mikkeller Bar (click here for address and info)
By far one of the best beer bars in the city (if not nation), this American iteration of a Dutch brewery even boasts an underground room devoted entirely to sour beers, and a draft system that pumps in brews at three separate temperatures so that they're always at the ideal temp.

David Phelps for Dirty Habit

The Stop: 4th & Stockton
The Spot: Dirty Habit (click here for address and info)
Come for the giant cocktail list, stay for the amazing patio... leave with the "Adult Lunchbox" full of bar nuts, beers, and a hot toddy in a thermos?

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 3rd & Kearny
The Spot: Local Edition (click here for address and info)
Because every streetcar bar crawl should have a spot from the guys behind Bourbon & Branch on it.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: 2nd & Montgomery
The Spot: Sutter Station Tavern (click here for address and info)
We're not sure how this place exists in Downtown SF, but this dive bar (nicknamed "Sutter Gutter") is without question the real thing, complete with Christmas lights in May, cheap beer, four pool tables, and slurring old people who may or may not have just stepped on your feet while getting to their table.

83 Proof

The Stop: 1st & Battery
The Spot: 83 Proof (click here for address and info)
A longtime Thrillist fave, this relatively hidden bar boasts a truly impressive whiskey collection, a mezzanine level, a FRAMED WES WELKER PATS JERSEY!!!, and a piano we're pretty sure doesn't work.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Main & Drumm
The Spot: Terminus (click here for address and info)
Sure, it's kinda cookie-cutter for a new SF bar (Edison bulbs, large metal lamps, exposed wood), but it's also kinda awesome-cutter -- the dude behind The House Of Shields is also behind this spot, and it's got proper Moscow Mule copper mugs.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Steuart
The Spot: Perry's (click here for address and info)
$5 wine on a heated patio with a view of the Bay Bridge? I mean, if you're gonna twist our arm...

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Ferry Terminal
The Spot: Just anywhere in the Ferry Building
Literally, anywhere.

Hard Water

The Stop: Washington
The Spot: Hard Water (click here for address and info)
Charles Phan's Embarcadero restaurant is an ode to oysters and whiskey, with a huge raw bar and an always-crowded bar. Pro tip: try the fried alligator. Pro-er tip: get a flight of bourbon -- they've got one of the largest collections of brown stuff in the city, and the flight'll give you a chance to explore a lot of it.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Broadway
The Spot: Coqueta (click here for address and info)
Spanish for "flirt", this Michael Chiarello-helmed restaurant has its own side bar/sangria-eria (sp?) that has a perfect view of the Bay/SO MUCH SANGRIA!!!.


The Spot: Green
The Spot: Exploratorium (click here for address and info)
Enjoy a hands-on children's science museum just the way God intended: buzzed on drinks from the attached SEAGLASS Restaurant.

Joe Starkey

The Stop: Greenwich
The Spot: Pier 23 (click here for address and info)
With an outdoor patio so good it made our Top Patios list, this is the perfect spot to end (or restart?) your streetcar bar adventure.

Joe Starkey is Thrillist's San Francisco Editor, and plans to start riding the F WAY MORE after putting this together. Join him on Twitter @starkey_joe.

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1. Twin Peaks Tavern 401 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

Predominately known throughout the city as SF's first-ever gay bar, Twin Peaks is adorned with beautiful, front-facing windows (for those who were comfortable enough back then to show the world their sexual orientation). Beyond the historical value, the drinks are strong, the company is amazing, and the music is a constant throwback to simpler (or, not-so-simpler) times.

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2. Super Duper Burger 2304 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

One of San Francisco's best burger chains, Super Duper ups the ante with draft beer, wine , milkshakes, and their use organic, all natural, and free range ingredients.

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3. Hi Tops 2247 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

Finally, a place to drink and relax where your sexuality isn't reduced to a stereotype. Hi Tops is a gay sports bar in The Castro that's decked out in benches made from bleachers, flat-screen televisions (16 of them, so they're always playing the game you came to watch), and Top Chef-level nachos, wings, and corn dogs. The speciality cocktails are a huge draw too, like the house Haterade that's served in a plastic water bottle.

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4. Churchill 198 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (Duboce Triangle)

Named after Sir Winston, Churchill's a WWII-inspired drinkery from the dudes behind Bloodhound and Double Dutch, set on quenching your thirst in a space replete with industrial lighting pulled from a factory in Belgium, massive metal pipes that double as pillars, and dozens of shipyard-thick ropes hanging loosely from the ceiling above the bar.

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5. The Mint Karaoke Lounge 1942 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Western Addition)

Once a steakhouse and piano bar, The Mint is now most known for its karaoke. Karaoke here is the opposite experience of private booths: you’re up onstage, out in the open, surrounded by a (hopefully) pumped audience so make sure to choose a song you can crush and lead in a full on sing-a-long. Oh, and The Mint streams karaoke performances live on the TVs at the bar, so get ready for your 15 minutes of fame.

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6. Orbit Room Cafe 1900 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Western Addition)

The Orbit Room should really be called Orbit Room 2.0 -- it shut down after 20 years in business when its owner died, but reopened months later under new management and with a slight facelift. Fortunately, the Market Street bar still has the same homey feel, standard drinks, and greasy favorites. The kitchen serves up some mean totchos: nacho-style tater tots covered in house-made pico de gallo, cheddar & mozzarella cheese, house-pickled jalapeños & serranos, and sour cream. Need we continue? Yes? You're also in for some hand-tossed pizzas, and specials like meatball sliders, street style tacos, and chicken & waffles. Basically, head to this art deco bar any day of the week for flavor-packed snacks and killer cocktails (like the Bourbon & Basil), but note: it's cash only.

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7. Zuni Cafe 1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Soma)

A culinary talisman for over thirty years, Zuni Cafe on the ever-bustling Market Street continues to serve New American cuisine with French and Italian influences. With a menu that changes daily, the element of surprise is never lost -- all while using the freshest, most sustainable ingredients.

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8. MA-velous 1408 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Civic Center)

A coffee AND wine bar that comes complete with a small library.

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9. Sam's Diner 1220 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Downtown)

Sam's features classic American diner plates and international dishes from around the world, as well as cheap bar drinks and tasty Bloody Marys.

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10. Show Dogs 1020 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Civic Center)

Head to this triangular Market street hot doggery (decked out with 200-year-old church pew seating) for the city's best all hot dog menu, oddly brought to you by the Foreign Cinema peeps.

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11. Mikkeller Bar 34 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (The Tenderloin)

MB is a Danish spot with 42 beers on tap (including four Mikkellers, unique to this location) and two cask-conditioned ales, served at three different temperatures, depending on the style of beer. Yeah, they take this stuff seriously... so seriously, in fact, that all of the beers on tap are managed by a system dubbed the Flux Capacitor, which controls the exact mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide used for each tap (no lightning required). There’s also a “secret” downstairs cellar dedicated exclusively to sours. It gets better: Mikkeller Bar isn’t just about the beer. No, there’s also an awesome food menu that involves lots and lots of delicious meat.

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12. 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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13. Local Edition 691 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94105 (Downtown)

The decline of newspapers can really be traced back to two things: 1) the advent of nimbler, handsomer online email newsletter publications, and 2) their refusal to put cocktail bars in their basements. Finally addressing the latter, Local Edition, the newest member of the Rickhouse/Bourbon & Branch/Mr. Win Win's Broman Empire, opened in the basement of the Hearst Building and wants to welcome you and your friends with live music and cocktails.

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14. Sutter Station 554 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94104 (Downtown)

This dive bar in Downtown SF will meet all your casual drinking needs, complete with Christmas lights in May, cheap beer, and four pool tables.

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15. 83 Proof 83 1st St, San Francisco, CA 94105 (Financial District)

This relatively hidden bar is conveniently located near the 1st & Battery stop on the F-Market streetcar line. Whiskey's the main event, but the bartenders will make anything that you, or they, can dream up. 83 Proof doesn't serve food and doesn't play music -- it's just a great place to hit up after work with your cronies to take the day off.

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16. Cafe Terminus 16 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

With accents like Edison bulbs, large metal lamps, and exposed wood, Terminus offers up cafe-style eats for breakfast and lunch.

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17. Perry's on the Embarcadero 155 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA 94105

This outpost is a mix of raw brick and sweeping Bay views, with seating clustered 'round a big mahogany bar, plus an open-air patio, private room, and two communal tables.

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18. Hard Water Pier 3, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Embarcadero)

When you step into this gorgeous Embarcadero bar, you’ll be greeted by a massive wall of every kind of whiskey imaginable. The space may be small, but you’ll be blown away by the selection of hard-to-find bourbons. Sip flights of the rare stuff (ranging from $22 to $125) as you chow down on New Orleans-inspired cuisine, like plates of crispy fried chicken, oysters, pimento cheese dip, and hush puppies.

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19. Coqueta Pier 5 - The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105 (Embarcadero)

Born from a Top Chef Masters vet, Coqueta (which means “flirt”) is an idyllic spot for creative and refreshing cocktails, festive tapas, and a gorgeous view of the Bay. Sit outside in the semi-enclosed patio or snag a seat at the glassed-in bar -- either way, you’ll be enjoying Spanish and Basque small plates that are vibrant and flavorful alongside sumptuous sangria in an unbeatable setting.

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20. Exploratorium Pier 15, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Embarcadero)

Ditch your loving family and embrace your inner man-child at Exploratorium's brand new complex at Pier 15. Their main restaurant's got a full bar (for the adult in the child in you), and they've got another restaurant that's dishing out goods like chickpea-battered fish fingers. Hit up exhibits on "Human Phenomena" (including a Pac-Man game that explores teamwork -- "See, Dad?? Spending hours on a one-player game can build social skills!") and "Tinkering".

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21. Pier 23 Cafe Pier 23, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Embarcadero)

When it comes to seafood, you want to be fairly close to the sea so that you know it's fresh. At Pier 23, you couldn't be any closer to the water, so much so that they've got a shoulder-height railing enclosing their patio. Add to that the fact that they've got a famously good Bloody Mary, and you just might be docked here for a while.