Food & Drink

31 SF Bars That Are Open on Christmas Day

Published On 12/18/2015 Published On 12/18/2015

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud and drinking lots of beer.” Yeah, that’s what Buddy the Elf was supposed to say, but then kids ruined the whole thing, just like they’ll ruin your Christmas when you realize they got all the good loot and you got socks. Again. Still, thanks to these 31 SF bars, all of which are doing you the kind favor of being open on a day when pretty much everything is closed, now you can escape your family to enjoy the only Christmas gift you really need: booze. “I’m drinking! I’m in a bar and I’m driiiiiiiinking!”

Balboa Cafe

Balboa Cafe

Cow Hollow
Enjoy cocktails at one of SF’s oldest bars from noon until 8pm.
 

Bus Stop

Cow Hollow
It’ll be open. A little later than usual (so, not 10am), but it’ll be open.
 

Eastside West

Cow Hollow
This bar right across the street from Balboa will start serving drinks at 1pm just in time for the Warriors game and there will be a DJ playing late night.
 

Presidio Bowling Center

The Presidio
Bowling on Christmas is the best idea ever. Trust. And now you can do it from noon until 2am.

Lucky 13

Lucky 13

Duboce Triangle
Pinball, pool, and punk rock on the jukebox. And what’s more punk rock than drinking at one of SF’s best dive bars on Christmas Day? It might open around 2pm, but it’s up to that day’s bartender, so call ahead: 415.487.1313.
 

Fog Harbor Fish House

Pier 39
If your out-of-town family wants to go to Fisherman’s Wharf, make sure you stop at Fog Harbor Fish House for a pumpkin pie martini. The bar is open from 11am to 9pm and it’ll be serving seafood as well.
 

Gold Dust Lounge

Fisherman's Wharf
Is it going to be open? According to the bartender we spoke to: “unfortunately.” Still, this spot, which was one of Herb Caen’s favorites, is the place to hit up if you’re going to be in Fisherman’s Wharf. And you can start drinking here around 10:30am.
 

Blackthorn Tavern

Inner Sunset
It's opening at 7pm. Grab two spots at the bar -- one for you and one for the “Play All Day” Elmo doll Santa left under the tree. Or something like that.
 

Fireside Bar

Inner Sunset
If you’re nice, maybe you can hang your stocking by the chimney with care from 5pm until 2am.

Daisy Barringer/Thrillist

Toronado

Lower Haight
It’ll be open around noon, but will likely close a bit early. Still, that leaves you plenty of time to drink all of the tasty beer.
 

Molotov’s

Lower Haight
Nothing will take your mind off of Christmas Day disappointments like a kick-ass jukebox & pinball. 
 

1300 on Fillmore

Western Addition
Cozy up with a pecan Old Fashioned (or any drink) from 2 to 8pm.
 

San Francisco Athletic Club

Lower Pac Heights
Management is still trying to find someone to work, but the plan is to open sometime in the afternoon. You might want to call ahead though: 415.923.8989.

Courtesy of Darren Edwards for Elixir

Bender’s Bar & Grill

The Mission
It'll be open from 2pm until 2am. And you can bring your dog. Because you wouldn’t want to leave your dog home alone on Christmas, would you?
 

Elixir

The Mission
Elixir opens at 5pm for all your drinking needs, especially if those needs include holiday cocktails like small-batch homemade eggnog, hot butt rum, and hot house cider.
 

​Zeitgeist

The Mission
If you’re naughty, you might get booted from the bar, but if you’re nice, you can drink from 9am until 2am.

Courtesy of Ron Henggeler for The Big 4 Bar at The Scarlet Huntington

Bell Tower

Nob Hill
This neighborhood spot will be serving tasty food and drinks from 11am until 2am.
 

The Big 4 Bar

Nob Hill
Go back in time to SF’s golden era at this iconic bar in The Scarlet Huntington hotel. Show up at 11:30am and stay until 9:30pm. The bar menu will also be available in case you get hungry while you drink.
 

Cabin Bar & Lounge

Nob Hill
Who doesn’t want to spend Christmas in a cozy cabin? Opens at 7pm and stays that way ‘til 2am.
 

Parallel 37

Nob Hill
Christmas Day is the perfect day for getting a little fancy. Drink “kitchen to cocktail” classics like the Pig 'N Boots (Pig’s Nose Scotch, Lillet Rose, lavender, yuzu, and cinnamon) or get Dom... by the glass. The lounge is also open, which means you can bar-hop without even going outside. Best of all? You can start at 11am and go ‘til 8pm.
 

R Bar

Lower Nob Hill
You can start ordering fernet at 9pm and keep drinking it until the bar closes at 2am.
 

Top of the Mark

Nob Hill
Grab a drink with a view from 10am to 7pm.

Cavalier

The Cavalier

SoMa
It's offering a three-course prix-fixe dinner for $80, but you can also just grab a seat at the bar where the bartenders will be serving up classic cocktails and hot holiday drinks.
 

The Living Room Bar

SoMa
This bar in the W Hotel will be open from 11:30am until 1:30am. The perfect place to meet a tourist you’ll never have to see again.
 

Lucky Strike

SoMa
Christmas turkeys for everyone from 5pm to 2am.
 

Northstar Cafe

North Beach
“Someone will roll in to open the bar around 6pm.” Now you know.

Vesuvio Cafe

North Beach
Vesuvio is open every single day of the year. Which means you can head there at 6am and stay until 2am and never know it was Christmas at all.

Bartlett Hall

Bartlett Hall

Union Square
You could tell yourself your Christmas doesn’t need house-brewed beer and barrel-aged Manhattans, but you’d be lying to yourself. It’ll open at 1:30pm for the Warriors game.
 

Clock Bar

Union Square
Toast to the good ol’ days with a cocktail inspired by the roaring '20s at this Michael Mina lounge that’s open from 4pm to midnight.
 

Finnegan’s Wake

Cole Valley
Doors will open around 11:30am and stay that way until closing.
 

Hobson's Choice

Upper Haight
It’ll start serving rum punch (and whatever else you may fancy) at 7pm.

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based freelance writer who strongly believes one should start drinking immediately upon waking on Christmas Day. Follow her on Twitter: @daisy.

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1. Balboa Cafe 3199 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (Cow Hollow)

Open since 1913 in Cow Hollow, Balboa Cafe is one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco. It's managed to maintain most of the original decor, including the moldings and black & white photos. The restaurant is split between a casual front area with a younger crowd and a white table-clothed dining room filled with an older crowd, but everyone is there for the same thing: the Balboa Burger. Served on a baguette with house-made pickles, it's one of the best in the city.

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2. Bus Stop Saloon 1901 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

Bus Stop is the best place to hit up a great viewing of the Giants dominating every single team in the MLB... or, ya know, to kick back and have a few beers & shots.

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3. Eastside West Restaurant & Bar 3154 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Marina)

Wanna get bottle service without going downtown? This is your spot. But wait, there’s more! A $25 bottomless mimosa and entree brunch you say? And shuffleboard and big ass TV’s? While Eastside West generally caters to the trendy Marina crowd, this is a classy joint where anyone can can feel comfortable letting loose and getting down on snacks like Tabasco-sauced calamari or fried truffled mac & cheese. You should also feel comfortable taking down a 120oz beer tower, because they have those, too.

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4. Presidio Bowling Center 93 Moraga Ave, San Francisco, CA 94129 (Presidio Heights)

This bowling venue allows for the best of the best to bring their A game. Have a few brews and kick back (and let it slip to your C+ game...?).

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5. Lucky 13 2140 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

Billed as "SF's Premier Dive Bar", Lucky 13's got 26 beers on tap, an outdoor beer garden/smoking area, and free BBQ on Saturdays from 4-7p all Summer (plus free Goldfish all the time!).

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6. Fog Harbor Fish House Pier 39, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Fishermans Wharf)

Fog Harbor is smack in the middle of a touristy area, but who doesn’t want to eat seasonal sustainable seafood and Dungeness Crab while looking onto Alcatraz once in awhile? The view from here is truly incredible and the Crispy Bay Scallops and Baked Oysters with bacon, spinach and creamy parmesan sauce live up to said view.

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7. Gold Dust Lounge 165 Jefferson St, #1, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Fishermans Wharf)

Like your guy in Super Contra after you do the up-up-down-down thing, Gold Dust Lounge can apparently never be killed off completely. Closed after nearly 100 years in the same Union Square digs, the GDL has emerged anew in Fisherman's Wharf with a nearly identical space... that's three times the size.

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8. 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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9. 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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10. Toronado 547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

If you love beer, you'll love Toronado, thanks to the fact that it was at the forefront of the craft beer movement in the ‘80s and even more thanks to the 45 rotating beers on tap. The Lower Haight bar specializes in local California beer, but there are usually some brews from Colorado, the East Coast, and Belgium. It's next door to Rosamunde, so the smart move is to order a sausage and wash it down with whatever's on tap. Note, Toronado is cash-only.

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11. Molotov's 582 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

Not only does this dive bar have one of the sweetest names ever, it also has a low-key vibe, a quality juke box, and super-cheap drinks.

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12. 1300 1300 Fillmore, San Francisco, 94115 (Fillmore)

Paying homage to the 40s-era Fillmore Jazz District, 1300's decked out with wood paneling, leather club chairs and b&w photos of neighborhood legends that'll make you pine for a time you never knew existed.

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13. San Francisco Athletic Club 1750 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA 94115 (Hayes Valley)

San Francisco Athletic Club is your destination for beer in a bathtub. For real. Small ceramic tubs full of beer bottles on ice are delivered straight to your table, and if that weren’t enough of a draw for game night, this sports bar on Divis also boasts pool tables, shuffleboard, and bleachers, plus a range of bar food. The menu features nontraditional healthy options like poached salmon salad and veggie chili to the not-so-healthy: one-third pound burgers, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and crinkle-cut fried pickles.

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14. Bender's Bar & Grill 806 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

What looks like a rundown hole in the wall is, unsurprisingly, one of the Mission's best dive bars. Aside from an ample selection of draft beer and cheap well drinks, Bender's sports a pool table, a shambled yet adored back patio, and perfect drinking food like fried pickles, BBQ burgers, and tater tots.

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15. Elixir 3200 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

Home to 350+ whiskies, Elixir, which opened in 1858, is the second oldest saloon in the city. The space feels like a combination of a pub, sports bar, and cocktail lounge, which accounts for their amazing diverse drink menu. Come for happy hour and stay until it transforms into a velvety candle-lit party, because why not?

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16. Zeitgeist 199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

Zeitgeist is a fascinating combo of a dive and a biergarten that houses an eclectic blend of friendly patrons who are all there for the same reasons: to sample a bodacious variety of beer, enjoy the nice weather on the numerous outdoor picnic tables, or slug an award-winning Bloody Mary (and in many cases, all three).

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17. The Bell Tower 1900 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Nob Hill)

Sitting atop Polk Street’s highest point (hence the name), The Bell Tower is a casual hangout with a full bar, complete pub menu and outdoor tables. Omelets and Bloodys rule supreme at brunch time and draft beers and Jack and Cokes are the way to go inside during a ball game.

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18. Big 4 Restaurant 1075 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (Nob Hill)

With dark wood, white tablecloths, and a 1976-era carved wood walls, walking into this place feels like taking a step back in time. This decidedly un-San Franciscan bar/restaurant, in addition to being refreshingly different than the modern Silicon Valley establishments, boasts classic American cuisine, barrel-aged Negroni, and elegant piano music.

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19. Cabin 1750 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Nob Hill)

Cabin did a smooth job of classing up the joint from the dive bar which previously inhabited this space. This is now a no-frills lounge to come in and enjoy a proper cocktail. Order anything made with the local Bender’s Rye, like the Rye Grin (Bender’s Rye, Barrel Aged Fernet, Mint, Lemon and Simple Syrup) or go big on the SF thing with a fernet flight. Bonus: the gourmet almonds might be the best bar snack ever.

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20. Parallel 37 600 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (Nob Hill)

A restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton is exactly as enticing as it sounds. Chef Michael Rotondo’s Parallel 37 puts a more casual spin on fine dining, and is Zagat-rated for having “one of the best tasting menus." The restaurant's focus is on “hyper-seasonal ingredients” found only in the Bay Area, so be sure to splurge on a tasting menu with a wine pairing, and marvel at the beautiful plating for each course.

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21. R Bar 1176 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Nob Hill)

Right off of burgeoning Polk St, R Bar sits within the walls of a brick building behind a menacing black gate. Eight bucks gets you a shot of Fernet or jameson (everyone always picks Fernet, because, SF) paired with a Bud Light tallboy. Sports are always on -- most notably R is filled with Oregon fans on Saturday and the J-E-T-S squad on Sunday during football season.

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22. Top of the Mark 999 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (Nob Hill)

If you like your stunning view with a side of martini, this is your booze-soaked huckleberry. In addition to having a hella classy mid-Century vibe, Top of the Mark boasts a “100 Martini Menu,” the best of which can be found on page one. The namesake martini is a straight-up, straightforward blend of Ketel One, vermouth, and two olives -- shaken, not stirred, Mr. Bond. Don’t be afraid to show up in a tux. And, don’t be surprised if you see at least three proposals.

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23. The Cavalier 360 Jesse St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

An upscale pub-style joint in Soma from the folks behind Park Tavern, Marlowe, and S&R Lounge, The Cav serves a British-themed menu with hearty standouts like venison tartare; a bacon, caramelized onion, and cheddar burger; and Shepherd's pie.

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24. The Living Room Bar 181 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Inside of Trace Restaurant in Downtown’s San Francisco’s W Hotel, The Living Room Bar is a swanky place to have drinks before or after dinner. The decor is crazy modern, with artistic lighting and attention to detail in every facet of design. Get the vibe going with lounge DJ’s and order bites from Trace if your stomach starts to rumble.

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25. Lucky Strike 200 King St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Mission Bay)

Bites, brews, and bowling await you at this SF outpost of the famed Lucky Strike. With 12 lanes and a 40ft bar, this place'll put your 8th grade bowling birthday parties to shame.

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26. Northstar Cafe 1560 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

The Northstar Café captures the essence of your favorite dive bars with free pool and popcorn, a six-hour happy hour every weekday, and Christmas lights, but the Bay Area pride covering the walls and its over a century-long tenure (it opened in 1882!) make the spot quintessential San Francisco.

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27. Vesuvio Cafe 255 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

You’ll feel like decidedly like part of the Beat Generation upon entering this cozy North Beach Staple. Located across the aptly named Jack Kerouac Alley from City Lights Bookstore, Vesuvio is a comfortable place for barflies, creatives, and tourists alike to come together and have a couple. Sit upstairs and watch the bustle of Columbus St through the window.

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28. Bartlett Hall 242 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Union Square)

Upscale bar bites and classic American fare are served with house-brewed beers and barrel-aged cocktails at this Union Square establishment. The butter burger, with with cheddar, stout rarebit, crispy onions, and Kennebec fries is the must-try item on the menu.

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29. Clock Bar 335 Powell St, San Francisco, 94102 (Union Square)

This classy bar at the Westin St. Francis comes courtesy of mega chef Michael Mina, so as one might expect the bar food is beyond next-level, like lobster corn dogs with whole grain mustard aioli and glazed Korean wings with pickled daikon and bleu cheese. Of course, the steadily rotating menu of handcrafted cocktails made with local spirits and fresh produce hold up their end of the bargain, too.

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30. Finnegan's Wake 937 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Finnegan's Wake is a basic neighborhood bar in Cole Valley that nails the effortlessly cool factor. It's kind of a dive, but it's mostly just a place to drink a few beers among regulars, play a round of pool, and chill on the back patio. It's nothing fancy, and we love it just the way it is.

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31. Hobson's Choice 1601 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Upper Haight)

Hobson's is an new-age drinkery with an older feel, that's doling out specialty drinks.

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