Top 10 New Bars of 2008

Unless you count the cheesy "ultra-lounges" we left off this list, 2008 didn't see a lot of splashy openings. This was the year of the re-do, with old classics getting tasteful upgrades, and also the year of the restaurant-bar, where some of the city's best cocktails can now be found. Without further ado and in no particular order, here are our picks for the 10 best new bars and clubs to open this year.

Updated: November 20, 2008

The Top 10

330 Ritch

330 Ritch St, San Francisco, CA 94107

Under new ownership by a crew of super-connected SF natives, 330 now books world famous DJs (DJ AM, Steve Aoki) and MCs (Mos Def, Cool Kids) as well as upcoming indie bands, and is also rocking a new look, and--most importantly--a new crowd.

Mc Teague's Saloon

1237 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

San Francisco may not have known that it wanted a Western-themed, country music saloo--least of all on Polk Street--but from the crowds swarming this cavernous beaut it's clear we need to get in touch with our inner rednecks.


1199 Valencia, San Francisco, CA 94110

The pizzette and antipasti at this dark and stylish new Valencia favorite were enough to make it one of our Best New Restaurants of '08, and the award-winning cocktails and vibrant scene qualify it as one of the ten best new bars, too.

800 Larkin

800 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

30 ft black on black gator-skin and mahogany bar, grey felt pool table, gold disco ball, fat-cat club chairs, and frequent references to "Dom" the Tenderloin? 800 Larkin's like a dive bar that won the lottery, and we dig it.

Owl Tree

601 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Formerly a dive/shrine to owls, The Owl Tree's reopened as a swanky after-work bar, but, respecting the previous owner's dying wish--that the bar remain "owl-themed--a giant mosaic of an owl was put outside, and there are a couple of gorgeous hooters behind the bar, too (engraved in the mirror).

Mini Bar Sf

837 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

This new, matchbox-sized spot brings a full bar, gallery-grade art and a smart design to Divisadero (okay, fine, "NoPa"), and by providing one more good option makes the whole street more appealing.

La Trappe

800 Greenwich St, San Francisco, CA 94133

The Belgian beer tavern may have opened in the last year, but the building it's in dates back to the 1890's and is filled with old church pews, plus it stocks over 120 kinds of beer, many of them Belgian monk-ales that've been brewed for centuries.

Avantine Llc

582 Washington St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Lunch spot by day, this new FiDi bar/social club from the Vintage 415 team serves Cal-Italian small plates, but the real draw will be the downstairs parlor, where members can store hooch and other goodies in private "liquor lockers."

Gitane Restaurant & Bar

6 Claude Ln, San Francisco, CA 94108

Tucked away on an alley near Union Square, this bar/restaurant's got Bourbon and Branch-grade cocktails (try the Gypsy), and a plush, sexy, surreal interior, plus bacon bon-bons; we dare you not to like it.

Pisco Latin Lounge

1817 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

This stretch of Market desperately needed some more options, and Pisco stepped in to provide a little punch--literally, it's their signature cocktail--and a classy mid-city spot for after-work boozing, grazing, and flirting.