Food & Drink

The best of SF bar snacking

Published On 10/30/2013 Published On 10/30/2013
Butter SF

When you're an attorney studying for the big exam, you need sustenance. But who cares about lame lawyer problems, because we're here to talk about the more important kind of bar snacks. You know, the ones that keep you upright while drinking. Here are some of the finest examples you'll find in SF across assorted critical categories

Most Likely to Give You An Immediate Coronary: Deep-Fried Twinkie Butter, SOMA Sure, the bar may be more of a bridge-and-tunnel crowd, but you kinda have to love a place that's white trash-themed and comes complete with this carney-worthy fare. Just don't blame them for the bypass.

Hi Tops

Most Essential Fried Thing: Fried Chicken Sandwich
Hi Tops, Castro
Consulted by a former Top Cheftestant, the eats menu at this bros-who-like-bros sports bar is all a step above the stuff you'd expect from such an establishment and, of all the items, the one not to be missed is the absolutely flawless fried chicken sandwich.

Best Shamefully Gluttonous Use of $5: 25-cent wings
Lightning Tavern, Marina
If you happen to be up in the Marina and want to get a ton of deliciousness for very little money, you gotta head to LT on a Wednesday to grab some of their seriously legit wings for cheap enough that you can totally order 20 of them for yourself... and a friend. And her friends.

Allison Webber

Best Place To Eat The Namesake: Trick Dog
Trick Dog, The Mission
Sure, the drink menu here's so good that you could have one of everything (and probably should), but don't miss their dog with a house-ground blend of chuck, brisket & sirloin, and topped with onion, pickles, cheddar & house sauce... though we swore he was more of a painkiller guy.

Best Eats Near A Strip Club: Grilled Cheese
15 Romolo, North Beach
Smack dab in the middle of all those classy Broadway joints is the alleyway/ street that leads you up to a fantastic little bar with an even more fantastic grilled cheese... that's made all the better with quince aioli, guanciale & fresh apple... or what happens when Gwyneth's daughter gets bratty.

Best Brunch Item Name: Wake 'N Bacon
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, The Mission
Since you're probably already dealing with a hangover from this very bar, you might as well bring things full circle and grab this gooey combo of bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg sandwich, all grilled to perfection with a really silly name whose reference we totally don't understand... at all.

Best Late-Night Sustenance: Fried Chicken
The Rock Bar, Bernal Heights
Delivered from just across the street at The Front Porch, you can get all the fried chicken your slightly fuzzy eyes think your stomach can handle... which is, apparently, a ton.

Best Mid-Work Grub: Nachos
Old Ship Saloon, FiDi
If you happen to work in the FiDi (highly likely) and also happen to have a job where a lunchtime beer is cool (less likely), you gotta hit up the Old Ship for, well, beer, but also for their mountainous, gloriously overtopped nachos where you'll never have to worry about getting chips with no cheese.

Flickr User [Milind.Desai]

Best Late-Night Almost-Burgers: Pork Belly Sliders
Alembic, Haight
If you're having a late night at The Alembic, you're already doing a great job. If you're also chowing down on their pork belly sliders with smoked honey mustard, pickles, and mizuna, kudos to you sir.

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1. Butter 354 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

This quirky dive bar offers deep-fried Twinkies, Jell-o shots, and tater tots (in other words, everything you need to get your night started right). With a consistently lively clientele, cheap drinks, and late night karaoke, Butter is gloriously bawdy, and a checkerboard floor, aluminum siding, and neon sings only add to the trashy-chic vibe.

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2. Hi Tops 2247 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

Finally, a place to drink and relax where your sexuality isn't reduced to a stereotype. Hi Tops is a gay sports bar in The Castro that's decked out in benches made from bleachers, flat-screen televisions (16 of them, so they're always playing the game you came to watch), and Top Chef-level nachos, wings, and corn dogs. The speciality cocktails are a huge draw too, like the house Haterade that's served in a plastic water bottle.

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3. Lightning Tavern 1875 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (Cow Hollow)

Unabashedly divey, Lighting Tavern carries Fireball, Fernet, tater tot nachos, and chicken wing buckets all in equal parts. Grab a seat on the outdoor patio to sip down bottomless mimosas as you prepare yourself for one of the booziest brunches in town (or dinners or happy hours). Even if you don't take advantage of the bottomless offer, the Scotch egg- and poutine-filled menu will have you overindulging in a different way.

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4. Trick Dog 3010 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Brought to you by The Bon Vivants, Trick Dog in The Mission's a marble- and steel-adorned cocktailery serving drinks from a Pantone-inspired menu with names from favorite song titles, along with bar bites like beer nuts, pickles, and cracklins.

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5. 15 Romolo 15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133 (Jackson Square)

Located up a steep alley on Strip Club row, 15 Romolo rewards lucky wanderers with superbly crafted cocktails served by well-versed bartenders. Classy wooden barstools accommodate drinkers, while comfortable booths serve weekend diners because -- if you haven't heard -- the brunch menu, featuring tofu báhn mì vie and bone marrow fritters, garners as much praise as the drinks.

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6. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem 2323 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Although inspired by the famed Muppet band, this place is about as devoid of Muppets as you can get. What they do have, however, is cheap wings, liquor on tap and beers served in Mason jars. We think this more than makes up for a little Hensonless-ness.

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7. The Rock Bar 80 29th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

A watering hole Scissors would never go near, The Rock Bar's a Southern Mish imbibe-ery from the folks behind The Front Porch, with a Temple of Doom-mine-cart-chase-worthy interior pairing artifacts from one of the owner’s silver-quarrying dads (including an honest-to-God blasting permit) with miscellany you'd expect to find in a mine, like amethysts, crystals, and 33 trapped Chileans.

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8. Old Ship Saloon 298 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94111 (Financial District)

For a bit of history with your beer, sail into this saloon constructed from pieces of The Arkansas, a three-masted ship that ran aground in 1849. Part locals’ bar, part after-work hangout with good beers on tap, Old Ship Saloon is also known for its great burger menu.

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9. The Alembic 1725 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Upper Haight)

The Alembic is known for its encyclopedic menu of spirits and handcrafted cocktails. The whiskey selection in particular reads like a written history of brown spirits, featuring American bourbon, whiskey, and rye alongside single-malt and vatted Scotch whiskey. The draft beer list is a nod to those with an appreciation for local craft brews and the food menu is filled with atypical bar snacks like pickled quail eggs and jerk-spiced duck hearts. As for the space, it's a trendy, rustic, dimly lit affair.