Polk Street Bars

If bars grew on trees, you might consider Polk Street the Baobab of San Francisco's nightlife savanna. Bearing prolific and diverse fruit, this tree of life sustains thriving communities of vodka-tonic-swilling Marina expatriates and no-nonsense Tendernob problem drinkers alike. On a list of Polk Street bars that should include dozens, here are five stand-out watering holes from North to South.

Updated: June 29, 2010

The Best Bars on San Francisco's Polk Street

Nick's Crispy Taco's

1500 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94109

Serving as Nick's by day and Rouge Nightclub by night, the true magic of this place involves sitting at the bar during happy hour on a late Saturday afternoon. With a taco in one hand and a margarita in the other, take a moment to notice your surroundings--red velvet curtains and matching booths, glittering chandeliers overhead and the fresh gym-tan-laundry Rouge crowd starting to assemble outside. Awesome.

Shanghai Kelly's

2064 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

"Adventure, Intrigue, Romance." Since 1985, Kelly's has embodied the upper-Polk approach to debauchery and become the iconic bar of a young, affluent Russian Hill community. Don't miss their bus trips, which typically include admission to some event, a swanky bus ride and oceans of booze. Prepare yourself for packed-house Sunday mornings for Pittsburgh Steeler games, as well.

Amelie Wine Bar

1754 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

It seems like every third door on Polk Street is a wine bar. (The other two are a dog groomer and a nail salon, but that's a different story.) With smart and atmospheric decor, a strong trade-approved wine list and nice happy-hour deal on wine flights, Amelie is the alpha dog of the Polk Street wine bar craze.

Bigfoot Lodge

1750 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

A cozy log-cabin interior complete with taxidermy-filled walls houses a lively neighborhood crowd and colorful rock-star bartenders all under the careful watch of a hulking life-sized Sasquatch perched at the back of the bar. Never a destination for the bridge-and-tunnel crowd, this is a real Polk Street party.


1160 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

As much thumping bass, sweat, body English and promiscuity as you could ever want served with a two-dollar Miller High Life instead of an inflated cover charge and $12 vodka cranberry.