As you're probably well aware of by now, December 21st is
German historian Leopold von Ranke's birthday! the longest night of the year -- 15 straight hours of nothing but darkness. We like to call it the Best Night of Your Life, because that's exactly what it's gonna be if you spend it at the city's best Thrillist-approved happy hour spots, cocktail bars, party dinner places, and more. Check out our picks for SF's best dive bars below, and make sure to fully map out a perfect evening with our itinerary builder.
Did we include this place mostly because they host a 4th of July tricycle race in the alley next door? Yes, yes we did.
Armed with a portrait of a woman slipping nip, this bar in the 'Loin allows you to 1) bring in pizza from outside (that you can heat up in their microwave??), and 2) write on a dollar bill and pin it to the wall. Couldn't. Be. Better.
This Divis dive is basically no-frills, cheap drinks, big leather seats, and a pool table that you may or may not have to wait for, depending on how many people are hustling it.
The guy behind the bar (hi Mark!) will play you in a dice game for beers (lose and you buy him/you a beer, win and he buys you/him a beer), but you have to play before 8p because he "has to drive home after work". Also, the beer is super, super cheap, it's cash only, and you can get -- we kid you not -- Three Penis Chinese Whiskey here. Yep. Also, THIS IS ONE OF THE 33 BEST DIVE BARS IN AMERICA!!
It's massive, has super-cheap pitchers, weirdly small tables, a broken shuffleboard table (!!!), and a sit-down Ms. Pac-Man that really can't be beat... unless you brought a bag of quarters.
Bow Bow Cocktail Lounge
Another Chinatown must-visit. The woman who runs it goes by "Mama", they serve peanuts you can crack open and eat at the bar (shells on the floor encouraged!), they have karaoke super-late in the back, and it'll either be sung by patrons in English or by "Mama" in Chinese. Also: we may or may not have been offered illegal fireworks on more than one occasion when there.
Yes, the one seen on that Anthony Bourdain show. No, it hasn't been ruined by it, there're still the same strong/cheap drinks, the bar still basically dominates the whole space, and the patrons still may or may not take their shirts off. Please don't, Dad.
This place has everything you could want from a TL dive, with a ton of sports memorabilia on the walls, beers in a cooler (not fridge), and a jukebox manned by none other than the friendly bartender... who may or may not be named Frank?
1. Pop's2800 24th St, San Francisco
2. High Tide600 Geary St, San Francisco
3. The Page298 Divisadero St, San Francisco
4. Buddha Lounge901 Grant Ave, San Francisco
5. Doc's Clock2575 Mission St, San Francisco
6. Bow Bow Cocktail Lounge1155 Grant Ave, San Francisco
7. Mr. Bing's201 Columbus Ave, San Francisco
8. 21 Club98 Turk St, San Francisco
Pop's is a dive bar The Mission that's got cheap booze and an awesome crowd.
High Tide is a Geary dive that's got a jukebox, pool table, and recommended low-cost liquor drinks.
The Page has got pool tables, a jukebox, and cheap booze -- what more could you want from a Lower Haight dive?
Chinatown surprisingly houses some of our favorite dive bars in the city and Buddha is one of the diviest (and best). It’s cash-only, has a bathroom you can only access after being buzzed in by the bartender, and oh yeah, the bartender… he’ll play you a game of dice for a beer (lose and you buy him/you a beer, win and he buys you/him a beer). But it’ll have to be before 8pm so he can drive home after work. Yeah, it’s that kind of place.
Anytime is cocktail time at Doc's Clock, a gem of a dive bar in the Mission. Shuffleboard courts, arcade games, and jukebox tunes round out the kitschy vibe, while cheap well drinks and $2 beers keep you there all night long.
Don’t leave this tiny, narrow Chinatown dive until you’ve gotten bartender-legend (and owner) Mama Candy to pour you Chinese whiskey while you you sip on cheap bottles of domestic beer and have worked up the nerve to sing at least one power ballad on the karaoke machine and eaten your way through at least a few bowls of the free spiced peanuts. If you stay late enough, you may even get the ultimate reward: watching Mama Candy herself grab the mic for some Chinese karaoke.
Mr. Bing's is a Chinatown jukebox haven with strong drinks and a rowdy crowd.