Important things you need to know about The Wiggle if you live in SF: 1) it's a zig-zagging bike route from Market to the Panhandle that shortcuts you around all the steep hills, 2) it has its own song (!!!), and 3) it's home to juuuuuust enough great bars to facilitate a Wiggle drinking guide. So we made one of those.
First, some brass tacks from us bike-crawling veterans: wear your helmet (your Mom is right) and don’t bike if you've had more to drink than the legal limit -- it’s dangerous and punishable by a $250 fine if you’re caught cycling under the influence. Alright, to the bars!
1900 Market St between Buchanan and Guerrero
This is essentially Wiggle Ground Zero -- a severely under-frequented mid-Market mainstay with cool-you-off cocktails like the Summer Mule (which you'll often find on special), and the tart, tequila-based El Rey. Bonus: the bartender has Advil behind the bar.
198 Church St at Duboce Triangle
While getting a drink at this awesome World War II-inspired cocktail bar after dark is an exercise in patience, daytime sees fewer crowds, meaning you’ll have a better chance of boozing/resting your knees on the comfy couches instead of being pressed up against Saturday night strangers. If you're into fresh-squeezed juice, get the greyhound. And if you're into pool, play exactly that in the back.
136 Church St
Fortify at this taqueria just a half block down from Churchill with their quesadilla, which is more massive burrito than it is 'dilla. The tacos are large as well, and beautifully simple, plus they've got plenty of Mexico’s finest beers (this is still a drinking guide, after all) and refreshing antioxidant-rich hibiscus tea -- we’re all about health, obviously.
Now for the wiggliest part of The Wiggle. Follow the green bike signs along sleepy residential streets until you hit Haight St and Pierce St, where you’ll want to ditch the bike and fix the inevitable sweaty helmet hair. There’s a lot of work to be done in the next block.
668 Haight St
Somewhere in between a sports bar and an Irish pub, Danny Coyle’s is a prime day-drinking spot to throw back Guinness-es and Magners-es, especially if there’s a pay-per-view fight or a sweet college football game on, which they'll project on the big screen in the back. Disclaimer: this is a Chargers/Seahawks bar, so if you're a Niners fan (and you damn well better be), maybe skip this stop on a Sunday.
547 Haight St
With more than 40 beers on tap and regular new imports, this is where you're gonna want to go if you're looking to sample hard-to-find beers, ciders, and barley wines for between $5 and $7 a pint. If you can snag a seat at this always-packed bar, it might be worth getting a second round. And by "might be worth" we mean "is worth".
557 Haight St between Fillmore and Steiner
The cavernous, funky Noc Noc bar next door 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. It’s a little cheesy, but then again, you’re wearing a helmet. And the happy hour -- $3 on select pints until 7pm -- is hard to beat.
576 Haight St
Because you'll probably need more (ugh) food at this point if you're doing some sort of crawl, drop into Memphis Minnie’s BBQ (don’t worry, they've got beer on tap, too). If it’s your first time, definitely get The Southern Star sandwich, which is half slow-smoked Texas brisket and half Memphis sweet smoked pork, and get ready to do a taste-test of the four house-made hot sauces.
598 Haight St
Because you need a SECOND SNACK (geez, what's with you and all this food??), hit the only place on Haight that offers the modifier "Kennebec" to its order of fries. This upscale gastropub is worth a drop-in for a craft cocktail and shishito peppers. And even though it's not technically a snack, the burger is kind of to-die-for.
582 Haight St
This punk-rock dive bar rose to viral fame this year when it became the site of an alleged anti-tech "hate crime" after a scuffle over Google Glass. But don’t expect international media attention to inspire any change in this cheap-drinking SF institution. And that’s one of the things to love about it -- it’s a nice reminder of what the Lower Haight was before it cost $4,000 to live there. The floor is sticky, there’s always rock coming out of the jukebox, and the daytime crowd consists mostly of hard-drinking regulars.
500 Divisadero St at Fell
Your last pre-Panhandle bar stop is obviously gonna be at Madrone. Get there 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.
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Amy Copperman is a freelance writer who actually did THIS ENTIRE WIGGLE CRAWL. Hit her up on Twitter: @acoppergirl.
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.