San Francisco Nightlife

San Francisco's nightlife pulsates with creative decadence, from craft cocktails and micro-breweries to high culture and bawdy bohemians. Generally, however, attitude makes way for a more laid-back scene. For the most part, anything goes, not least in the proliferation of gay clubs, many of which are so popular they are in danger of turning straight.

To drink, you will need to be at least 21 years old and carrying identification. Generally, restaurants, nightclubs and bars are licensed till 0200.

Some districts (most often those with a young and thrusting street culture) offer many nightlife options. These include Downtown, South of Market (SoMa) and Castro. To find the action, it may be worth consulting a current copy of the SF Bay Guardian or the SF Weekly, both free.

Bars in San Francisco

21st Amendment Brewery

If you’re a sports fan, then this brewpub is the place to watch any big games, or join locals who are having a drink after the action at the nearby ballpark. It can get busy if the Giants are at home, but a huge restaurant section and patio absorb the crowds. Many of the tap beers are brewed in-house, and include unusual selections such as watermelon wheat ale. The food is also a step above the usual nachos and pizza sports bar options.

563 2nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, United States
Telephone: +1 415 369 0900.
Magnolia Pub and Brewery

It’s hard to stand out in a city of microbreweries and brewpubs, yet this establishment in the heart of The Haight is managing to do just that. A more humble experience than most of its contemporaries, the beers are brewed on the premises of course and garner praise from newbies and old hands alike. Cheese plates and English-style bar food complements the pints perfectly. The IPA selection is a particular local favourite.

1398 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, United States
Telephone: +1 415 864 7468.
Trick Dog

Craft cocktail bars by their very definition fall in and out of fashion, but this dog is apparently learning new tricks as it has captured the imagination of the city’s cocktail lovers. Cosy but with enough space to feel open (try the upstairs loft), you’ll find a fine selection of classics and new concoctions. Small plates are orchestrated to match the drinks, and receive just as much artistry in the kitchen.

3010 20th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114, United States
Telephone: +1 415 471 2999.

Clubs in San Francisco

Cat Club

A SOMA institution with a fiercely loyal following, this nightclub attracts the weird and the wonderful to its varied dance nights. There are some great retro nights for fans of 1980s and 90s indie and dance, as well as hip performance artists and collectives performing for the appreciative crowds. The space has two dance floors, and a famously relaxed staff, which makes for a famously relaxed clientele. Thursday nights are especially popular.

1190 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States
Telephone: +1 415 703 8965.
The Great Northern

Formerly the Mighty, this dance club in the heart of The Mission district attracts an eclectic crowd and just as interesting a line-up of DJ talent. It has a solid sound system and decent-sized dance floor, and night birds will find hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz and reggae all well represented on different nights - sometimes even on the same night.

119 Utah Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States
Telephone: +1 415 626 7001.
Tonga Room

Not your average club by any means, but a must for any lover of kitsch. Located in the basement of the up-market Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, this place has remained almost as it was for over 60 years. The tiki-themed lounge bar serves cocktails with umbrellas, and the dancefloor is by a central pool – at the centre of which the house band often plays live aboard a drifting boat.

950 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108, United States
Telephone: +1 415 772-5278.

Live Music in San Francisco

Great American Music Hall

This boldly named venue backs it up with a wealth of established artists. There are plenty of tables and the drinks and food menus are widely praised. The venue has been refurbished and there’s something of a showtime/Great Gatsby vibe – small enough to be intimate but large enough to attract the right talent.

859 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94109, United States
Telephone: +1 415 885 0750.
The Fillmore

The most renowned of all San Francisco’s music venues has more than its fair share of legendary performances, rock legends and history. Balcony seating is highly sought after so try and book tickets as early as possible if that’s what you’re after. Big bands and events pass through, and the venue has the facilities and heritage to carry them off to a very high standard. Well worth the price of admission.

1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94115, United States
Telephone: +1 800 745 3000.
The Lost Church

This is a typically stylish, unusual and intimate San Francisco performance space, and the room is usually decorated to suit the visiting artist. Expect everything from vaudeville tributes to evocative acoustic sets. The building dates from the early 20th century and despite its nooks and crannies, there really isn’t a bad-viewing point in the house.

65 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, United States
Telephone: +1 877 987 6487.
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