by Gina Goff - 6741 Reviews - 27 List
The Haight is a neighborhood simultaneously celebrated for its rich history and shrouded by its current reputation as home to teenage runaways. But, look beyond the tourists snapping pictures of the Haight and Ashbury intersection and the Marin kids squatting on the sidewalk, and you'll start to notice that the Haight is also home to some of the city's best low-key nightlife options, from Irish pubs and classic dives to cocktail lounges. Here, we give you the ultimate Haight Street bar-crawl guide: 15 of the best watering holes, working east from Stanyan.
Drinks at the Alembic by Flickr user Mai Le
Updated: July 28, 2010
A true gem, not just for the Haight but for SF, this craft-cocktail bar and gastropub offers some of the city's most inventive cocktails, a top-notch beer list and food that's adventurous yet approachable. Come early in the week to avoid crowds.
English Premier League and Gaelic football are reliable draws to this Irish pub. It's one of the neighborhood's most spacious bars with a long front bar for your Magners and Guinness needs and a narrow back room with table service and so-so pub food.
There's nothing particularly notable about this place, and that's why its regulars love it. Prices are good, crowds are rare and the lived-in feel is well-earned--the bar has been around since 1926 and in its current location since the '70s.
Both men on the prowl and women who wish not to be preyed on should be forewarned: the ratio of men to women in this somewhat generic Irish pub is about 9:1. The prices aren't bad, though, and there's usually a free bar stool on non-game days.
Punks with cheap beer on their breath, cigarettes on their lips and Suicidal Tendencies patches on their jackets stand guard outside this bar as if to warn passersby that this is not your friendly neighborhood bar. Still, it's a Haight Street institution and you might want to go in just to say you have.
The ultimate beer bar, Toronado offers more than 100 choices--from Belgian sours to locally brewed IPAs and everything in between. Surly service is pretty common, but they'll let you bring in Rosamunde sausages from next door, which guarantees a happy crowd.
Mad Dog makes for a great game-day hangout with cheap beer and recently upgraded TVs, visible from virtually every nook and cranny of the bar. Soccer games (even the way-early ones) are shown live and they also let you bring in outside food.