Hemlock Tavern

Bar / Live Music Venue
Hemlock Tavern Situated on a popular stretch of Polk Street well-trod by barhoppers, Hemlock Tavern hosts bands, DJs, and Happy Hours every night. San Francisco United States 37.787366 -122.420215
3.87 6
Hemlock Tavern - Bar | Live Music Venue in San Francisco.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Situated on a popular stretch of Polk Street well-trod by barhoppers, Hemlock Tavern hosts bands, DJs, and Happy Hours every night. A large walk-around bar serves lots of PBR to the hipster regulars – “Skinny jeans: Activate... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    Daily 4pm–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Hemlock Tavern Review

The Scene

Situated on a popular stretch of Polk Street well-trod by barhoppers, Hemlock Tavern hosts bands, DJs, and Happy Hours every night.

Situated on a popular stretch of Polk Street well-trod by barhoppers, Hemlock Tavern hosts bands, DJs, and Happy Hours every night.

A large walk-around bar serves lots of PBR to the hipster regulars – “Skinny jeans: Activate!” – while wooden benches spread throughout the room provide spots for the punks, folk lovers, and antisocial art students waiting for the night’s act to kick off.

Smokers head to the enclosed heated lounge for a few drags, while on Fridays and Saturdays, preppier Marina and suburban types tend to hang out at the long tables at the end of the bar, a mellow place to chill for a bit as they drink their way down Polk Street.

A random décor of fake deer heads mounted on landscapes, fluffy kitty paintings, and plastic swordfish is a fitting background for the eclectic clientele, although most eyes go straight to the red arrow that marks the music room. Usually less than $10 to enter, the room quickly packs to capacity once the bands start playing off its knee-high stage, and in case a particular performer’s skills are lacking, the room is also (kind of) soundproof from the rest of the venue.

With a variety of live talent and an always interesting mix of clientele, Hemlock Tavern is a great go-to bar for an entertaining night out or a perfect place to end up after a long night of pub crawls.

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Tip from Jonah:

Before you catch some music, grab one of Hemlock's Bloody Marys. It’s a pint glass loaded with cheese-stuffed olives and pickled beans – and it’s only $6 during Happy Hour!

  • Crowd

    Music junkies, affluent art school hipsters, grungy skaters, some preppy types, and the occasional lone, chain-smoking middle-aged man, mid-20s to 30s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Live music in the back room five or six nights a week, including acoustic, electronic, punk, and funk performances. DJs spin a variety of styles nightly from 4–7pm. Comedy nights and other special entertainment events held throughout the month. Free old-school jukebox. Ping-pong table brought in on Mondays. Check website for schedule.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Hot peanuts. Happy Hour daily 4–7pm. Cash only. ATM on site.

  • Prices

    Music room cover charge $5–$10. Peanuts $1. Beer $3–$6, wine $6–$8, cocktails $6–$8.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Indie rock casual: flannel button-downs, skinny jeans, boots, cut-up band t-shirts, vintage dresses.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Almost any night to catch a live show, or Fridays and Saturdays for a diverse crowd fueled by Polk Street barhoppers from all over the city.

  • Close By

    Vertigo Bar (1160 Polk Street) is a small dive nearby with a cramped dance floor and an equally diverse crowd.

Hemlock Tavern User Reviews

Average rating:
Polk Street: Where Dreams Come True
Caitlin M. Jun 5, 2013
I love Polk Street. I have spent many a Friday night stumbling in and out of different bars, misplacing friends and belongings each time. I like Hemlock because there is adequate seating and lots of room, which I enjoy when I have had one too many $3 PBR tall cans. Also the crowd is probably the best. There is college-messes like myself, slightly less messy young professionals, and even some not-messy-at-all people who seem to have their lives together. Either way, everyone there is nice, friendly, and just trying to have a good time. You never have to worry about bros getting in fights about who lifts more or girls throwing up all over themselves; it's a place to get drunk, maybe a little weird, but still maintain some dignity. Bartenders are cool, fairly fast considering how many people are trying to get them to take their money, and if you aren't fancy, you can get a decent buzz for under $10. Score.
Whoever said that rock n' roll is dead, obviously hasn't been to the Hemlock
Dorin A. Mar 21, 2013
People say this place is filled with hipsters, I say its filled with music enthusiasts. Some nights its crowded with some of the hottest, cool, retro, artist types, and some nights it a mixture of so many types of people, it would be unfair to try and name them all. Its centrally located on Polk street, which over the years has blossomed with a cluster of bars and live music all around. There is plenty of bar hopping on this street, so you never know who your going to meet, or what condition they will be in, hence I recommend the Hemlock as the best place to sit and observe the chaos. In a separate back room (with cover), you will find some of the most underground music acts, local and from across the globe. If you want to get a feel for what CBGB was like, then catch an act here. Otherwise, this is a fairly large bar, with a crazy good juke box playing anything you can possibly think of and has an ever popular smoking lounge. As a drunken smoker, I so enjoy not being kicked out of the bar or locked into a cancer hotbox with no windows, when Im trying to enjoy an occasional smoke. This lounge is indoor with big open windows, great for those cold San Francisco nights and socializing. This is a popular bar that is not upscale or too divey. I would say its a great place to grab a drink and meet some hot, young, and interesting characters, and if in the mood, popping in to see a show as well.
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