San Francisco is a drinking city. Established by the working class and now run (for the most part by the upper class), it's diversity is reflected in the number of unique bars and restaurants that are part of the lore and there for everyone to enjoy.
Never "San Fran" or "Frisco" to the locals, San Francisco or "The City" is the most beautiful and interesting place in America (sorry Seattle and New York) and everything and anything you could imagine is within walking distance. Black Tie to black T-shirt, this cosmopolitan city is home to a million stories told in the great joints.
Buena Vista Cafe
San Francisco is famous for cable cars. I love San Francisco. I hate cable cars.
Cable Cars are like children. They are noisy, undependable, and they can wake you up early in the morning from a sound sleep. Sometimes both are better off viewed from afar. Now, don't get me wrong. I love children. I just hate cable cars.
I maintain that only tourists like cable cars. Locals hate them. It is part of why locals and tourists cannot drink together in San Francisco. Except at one bar: The Buena Vista Cafe.
San Francisco's North Beach is the City's center of Italian culture. And no place epitomizes the culture and the City better than Tosca Café does.
Before California was officially a state - I know this because even though I can't remember what I had for breakfast I can recall useless facts from my 8th grade history class - Tadich Grill in San Francisco was serving hot meals on cold days. Over 150 years later, no restaurant in America has aged more gracefully.
The Big 4 Restaurant
With so many options for locals and visitors, the top of San Francisco's Nob Hill is usually an area yielded to the out-of-town crowd who are equipped to spend their wads of money on overpriced cocktails and expensive, dated hotel rooms. There is one exception to that premise - the Big 4 Restaurant - a place so fine that locals will grin and bear a walk through the throng of Alcatraz t-shirts just to savor the experience.
Persian Aub Zam Zam Club
The Persian Aub Zam Zam Club in San Francisco is in the most unlikely of places. Located right in the heart of the Haight- Ashbury, this bar is as out of place as Mario Savio leading a Republican rally. Among the shops and bars that defined counter-culture and hippie movement stands a place that has a gated entrance shaped like the outside of a Moroccan teahouse. Inside, the bar is as pristine as any that one has ever entered.
C Bobby's Owl Tree
It is difficult to avoid an obvious pun when discussing a bar named C Bobby's Owl Tree. So let's get it out of the way. This place is a hoot.
The Connecticut Yankee
One year after the big quake in 1906 and 11 years before the Curse of the Bambino was bestowed upon Red Sox fans, a small bar and boarding house opened in the Potrero Hill district of San Francisco. Today it is an outpost for long suffering New England (and local) sports fans to enjoy a cold bee-ah and a bowl of chowdah.
At Great Joints, we are partial to those places that stay open until the wee hours of the night serving the best libations. But what happens when the lights in the bar get turned up and your stomach is growling? In San Francisco, it means head right away to Yuet Lee for Chinese food that will help fill the stomach while not emptying the wallet.
The late but legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist and city ambassador (although he was actually born in Sacramento) Herb Caen used to expound the joys of The City with one exception: Fisherman's Wharf. He once even proposed a trade for Oakland's Jack London Square. I assume the City Fathers of Oakland must have been holding out for the Transamerica Pyramid.