Proof That Iceland's Ring Road Is the World's Most Beautiful Road Trip
1. Orbit Room Cafe1900 Market St, San Francisco
2. Churchill198 Church St, San Francisco
3. El Castillito136 Church St, San Francisco
4. Danny Coyle's668 Haight St, San Francisco
5. Toronado547 Haight St, San Francisco
6. Noc Noc557 Haight St, San Francisco
7. Memphis Minnie's BBQ576 Haight St, San Francisco
8. Maven598 Haight St, San Francisco
9. Molotov's582 Haight St, San Francisco
10. Madrone Art Bar500 Divisadero St, San Francisco
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.
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.
Plenty of Mexican beers, enormous and deliciously simple tacos, quesadillas that resemble giant burritos, and free chips with orders all make El Castillito a great place to stop on Church St. This unassuming -- cash only! -- taqueria also boasts an extensive condiment bar with a variety of salsas (we recommend the green).
Daring you to prove you know every word to Air Coryell's disco-fabulous Bolts anthem on Sundays in Lower Haight, plant your Marion Butts on a stool at Danny Coyle's, as they faithfully blast the "San Diego Super Chargers" song inside while the game plays on any of eight TVs plus a Natrone Means-sized projector screen.
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.
The cavernous, funky Noc Noc bar is sort of Tim Burton-meets-mushroom-trip, with a splash of Dr. Seuss. Think textured, warped walls, scraggly fake tree branches, alien-inspired lighting, and bar stools that look like they belong on the set of Beetlejuice. And the happy hour -- $3 on select pints until 7pm -- is hard to beat.
Memphis Minnie's is a 1950s' styled BBQ joint that slings eats slow-cooked meats, Southern-style. Minnie's meats pass the taste test by using white oak logs (no gas, no electricity!). This spot has everything from ribs to pulled pork to some killer wings. Meats here can come slathered in savory sauces, so you might need a bib-- we won't judge!
Maven is a chic bar and restaurant in Lower Haight that pairs all of its dishes with different cocktails. The highlight of the menu is the burger, which begins with beef that's ground with a few dashes of angostura bitters and is paired with the Mr. Wiggles cocktail, made with bourbon, amaro, vermouth, and bitters. The bar's morning cocktails make it a popular brunch spot, as do the duck hash and Bananas Foster French toast. The seating is all communal, and the best seats in the house are either on the second-floor loft or at the chef's counter.
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.
Get to Madrone around happy hour to enjoy $1-off draught beers and well drinks, as well as the live piano player that opens for the rotating host of DJs. It’s a party here every night of the week, including Mondays when Motown draws a line around the block.