16 ways to not piss off a Toronado bartender

Daisy Barringer
Daisy Barringer

Toronado, in the Lower Haight, is famous for two things: 1) really good craft beer, and 2) really surly bartenders. For many, the former outweighs having to deal with the latter, but for some, the idea of being treated like crap means avoiding the spot altogether. Those "some" are missing out, though. Known for propelling the city to the forefront of the craft beer movement in the '80s, Toronado now has 45+ reasonably priced, delicious beers on tap -- beers that are meant to be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone, not just people who have an "in".

So we took one for the team and went into Toronado to ask the bartenders what exactly it is that pisses them off about certain customers and, even more importantly: how to NOT be "that guy".

Flickr/Charles Haynes

1. Know your order BEFORE you get to the bar

If you don’t know exactly what you want, that’s okay (kind of, maybe, depending on the bartender). But at least know what style of beer you want or have another beer brand in mind (and do not have the beer brand be Bud Light). Also, don't say "I want a beer I haven’t had before". The bartenders don’t know your beer-drinking history and they don’t have the time or the inclination to listen to it. 

2. Use The Board

Get as much info from The Board as you can. You have an iPhone: use it to do research. And don’t tell the bartender it's too far away for you to see. Not only do they not care (and not believe you), but they don’t have time to read the whole thing aloud to you. Pro tip: check out the list of draught beers on their site before you head in. The latest list of beers may be on there.

3. Don't order beers they don't have

And definitely don't act offended when they tell you they don't have it. Again: The Board is your friend. Your BEST friend.

Daisy Barringer

4. Put your phone away

As our trusty bartender explained, "You’re not a customer until the phone is put away. Text me when you’re ready."

5. Don't wave to the bartender

They see you. And they'll get to you when they get to you.

6. Don’t complain about waiting

It might be a long wait. That’s how life works. Especially at Toronado.

7. Don't be a jerk about showing your ID

First of all, really? Second, they can lose their job if they serve someone underage. Be flattered. And have it ready.

Daisy Barringer

8. Have your money ready

And yeah, it's cash only. There's an ATM in the corner if you need it.

9. Tip

Wise words from the Toronado bartender: "If a person doesn’t tip, they’re probably the type of person who doesn’t have oral sex." You don't want to be the type of person who doesn't have oral sex, do you? A dollar a beer is fine.

Daisy Barringer

10. Be an attractive woman

[The author would like to note that when she walked into Toronado to do this interview, she was greeted with a very friendly, "Hi sweetie!", so "attractive" is obviously relative, but any level of it clearly can't hurt.]

11. Wear Giants, Sharks, or 49ers gear

If you can't be a woman, be a proud fan of a local team. Even better? Do both.

12. Don't be screechy

Yes, even you, attractive woman. Even you.

Daisy Barringer

13. Don't act like you've had one too many

Even if you have.

14. Don't high five

You can keep your hand out of the air for one evening, right?

15. Bring your own napkins

Definitely get a sausage next door at Rosamunde. But just make sure to bring your own napkins 'cause Toronado only has coasters.

Daisy Barringer

16. Have respect

Of all of the rules, this is the most important (right after using The Board). Seriously though, Toronado is an old San Francisco beer bar. It's not the sort of place that opens anymore. Treat it with a little reverence and you should be okay (also: know your order before you get to the bar, in case that wasn't clear). As the bartender we spoke with said, "Toronado is here for a reason, and it’s been here a long time for a reason. You may understand it, but you may not. Just be prepared to go along for the ride." Whatever that ride may be.

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Daisy Barringer is Thrillist's SF Editor. She has a Saint Bernard named Monkey, so obvi she orders the St. Bernardus Witbier at Toronado. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf for pics of her adorable pup.