Bar food has taken a turn for the better over the last few years in SF. Cheffy sandwiches and fancy drinking snacks alike have taken the place of shell-on peanuts (not that we don't love those, too).
Here are five great spots we currently can't get enough of for bar food—as well as great drinks.
It's easy to turn your bar hang into an epic, multicourse feast at this sultry Fifth Floor revamp in SoMa's Hotel Palomar. Chef David Bazirgan really brings the goods with an extensive food menu covering the gamut from steamed lamb belly buns ($5 each) and crazy-addictive chicken wings ($12) to béarnaise-topped aged rib eye ($35). Brian Means's cocktail list is problematic only in its delicious breadth and depth—we recommend sticking around for a while in order to try as many as you can.
There's no denying the serious bar star power behind this Mission spot: Owners Ryan Fitzgerald, Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud and Todd Smith have résumés that include cocktail hot spots Beretta, The Hideout at Dalva and Bourbon & Branch, respectively. The food offerings come out to play, too. Chef Kevin Cimino was recently at St. Vincent and has put together a menu of ridiculously delicious "snacks." Offerings include collard green dolmas stuffed with dirty rice ($7), chicken potpie empanadas ($8) and a top contender for our new favorite burger, with pimento cheese and pickles ($9).
Not your average bar burger: the version at ABV | Photo: Melissa Chow
This new North Beach hot spot manages to be all kinds of things at once: a restaurant destination (in the form of Doc Ricketts), a spot for a quick drink and a snack, and a full-on venue called Doc's Lab with a calendar of live music, comedy and readings. We appreciate that you can order the full Doc Ricketts's menu, courtesy of chef Justin Deering (15 Romolo, Cafe des Amis), in the Lab, particularly the incredible selection of house-made charcuterie ($7.50 each, $24) for a tasting plate and tasty snacks and sides ($6 each), which include everything from spiced nuts to spaetzle. Of course, if you'd like roast chicken ($22) or a pork chop ($26) to go with your show, we're in full support.
The Mission's Trick Dog has been the spot for great cocktails and killer cocktails since it opened. It's upping its food game even more with new chef Michael Logan (The Battery, Maialino). Don't worry, they're keeping the signature Trick Dog burger ($9) and mountain-sized kale salad ($9). New menu additions include achiote-braised lamb ribs, served with pickled pluots ($15); a summery salad of Early Girl tomatoes, burrata and pine nut brittle ($11); and guacamole studded with sweet corn ($6).
What do you get when you pair a Babbo-trained bartender with a menu of Top Chef-approved drinking food? The playful, technique-driven grub at The European, the cocktail bar holding court across The Warwick's lobby from Casey Thompson's Aveline. Snack on fried goodies like beef-fat potatoes served with Velveeta mornay ($11) and pepperoni-studded beignets ($10); indulge in mushroom popcorn topped with sumac butter or manchego ($7); or go upscale with smoked Wagyu beef tartare ($17). If you're still feeling peckish, we think the French ham and Brie sandwich ($15), served on a crusty baguette spread with honey butter, is an excellent idea.
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