Jeff H./Yelp

Black Horse London Pub

Cow Hollow At just 136 sq. ft., a maximum occupancy of 22 people, and only nine bar stools, Black Horse is SF’s smallest bar, which makes it a no-brainer for this list. But it’s also one of SF’s best neighborhood watering holes thanks to the friendly, intimate vibe, outstanding cheese plate (the only food served), the fact that beers are kept on ice in a bathtub, and the constant rolling of dice. Know before you go: beer only, men who are sitting must relinquish their stools to women who are standing and, shocker (not really), it’s cash only.

Mel Rice Ceramica/Facebook

Sam’s Pizza and Hamburgers

North Beach If you find yourself in North Beach after a few drinks and you’re getting a hankering to chow down, grab a seat at the counter at Sam’s where you can get one of the best burgers in SF. Sam’s has been open for 50 years and not much has changed in that time; it’s still a tiny no-frills, cash-only joint. Oh, and when Anthony Bourdain ate their burger, he proclaimed Sam a “walking Buddha” and “a patron saint.” So there’s that.

The Grand Newsstand/Facebook

Mini Bar


We love Mini Bar because it’s so much more than just, well, a mini bar. It’s also a community gathering space that’s always filled with interesting art from neighborhood artists. The space is long and narrow, but every inch is used wisely and the art is really the hero. Though it doesn’t hurt that the cocktails are pretty darn tasty as well.

Monika S./Yelp
John Storey/Courtesy of Omakase



Chef Jackson Yu’s SoMa restaurant has just 14 seats, but the fact that it’s almost impossible to get a reservation doesn’t stop it from being one of SF’s highest-rated sushi spots. Omakase means “chef’s choice” (but you probably knew that already) and there are just two prix fixe menus available ($150 and $200). Yes, it’s a total splurge, but it’s worth it to eat some of (if not THE) best fish in the city.

Joyce Z./Yelp
Sarah Kat/Flickr

Swan Oyster Depot

Nob Hill

There’s probably been a line out the door of this famous seafood spot since it opened up over 100 years ago because not only is the seafood the best in town, there are only, like, 18 counter seats total. The food’s not cheap and the vibe’s not fancy, but it’s still worth the wait for some of the freshest, tastiest oysters and crab you’ll ever eat. Leave room for the clam chowder though.

Frank Farm/Flickr