Zeitgeist

Beer Garden / Dive Bar
Zeitgeist Born as a biker haven, Zeitgeist has evolved into an institutional dive that attracts everyone from Harley loyalists to skinny-jeaned bike messengers with its mix of surly bartenders, solid beer selection, and expansive graffiti... San Francisco United States 37.769862 -122.422376
4.22 22
Zeitgeist - Beer Garden | Dive Bar in San Francisco.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Born as a biker haven, Zeitgeist has evolved into an institutional dive that attracts everyone from Harley loyalists to skinny-jeaned bike messengers with its mix of surly bartenders, solid beer selection, and expansive... ... read full review

  • Metro:

    BART: 16th Street Mission
    MUNI F Line: Market Street & Guerrero Street

  • Phone:

    415-255-7505

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    Daily 9am–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Zeitgeist Review

The Scene

Born as a biker haven, Zeitgeist has evolved into an institutional dive that attracts everyone from Harley loyalists to skinny-jeaned bike messengers with its mix of surly bartenders, solid beer selection, and expansive graffiti...

Born as a biker haven, Zeitgeist has evolved into an institutional dive that attracts everyone from Harley loyalists to skinny-jeaned bike messengers with its mix of surly bartenders, solid beer selection, and expansive graffiti-laden courtyard.

Beneath the venue’s unmistakable logo – a Playboy bunny with a skull instead of a rabbit’s head – thick black doors open onto a small bar where servers dispense pitchers of craft brew and cheap PBR with equal-opportunity brusqueness.

Hoodie-clad hipsters congregate around the liquor-stained pool table and classic arcade games in the back, where they eat up a few quarters while waiting for their burgers and home fries to appear in the food window.

The venue’s biggest draw, however, is the spacious Munich-meets-Sex Pistols beer garden, where more than two dozen picnic tables host a big, boisterous mass of young creative types and urban bad boys downing suds and digging AC/DC on the stereo.

Even during the city’s notoriously foggy days, the eclectic crowd smokes and jokes amid a medley of hanging bicycles and sprawling murals, though the garden sees its biggest gatherings as soon as the sun breaks through.

And while the warmth might not extend to the bartenders’ demeanor, the wide beer selection and wider potpourri of revelers gives Zeitgeist one of the most welcoming spirits in the city.

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Tip from Jonah:

Save some cash for a late-night snack. Around midnight every night, local legend the Tamale Lady usually stops by the beer garden to sell homemade tamales for $4 each.

  • Crowd

    Hipsters, biker types, messenger clans, and young professionals, 20s to late 30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Pool table and a few old-school arcade games. Jukebox with mostly classic hard rock and punk.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Small bar menu including hamburgers, bratwurst, grilled cheese sandwiches, and home fries. Happy Hour M–F 9am–8pm.

  • Prices

    Grill fare $5–$8. Beer $4–$7, wine $6, cocktails $6–$9+. Cash only. ATM on site.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes: t-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, sneakers, and leather jackets.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Friday and Saturday nights for a packed house, and weekends when the sun is out, though any warm-weather day tends to find the beer garden full.

  • Close By

    Thieves Tavern (496 14th Street) is a hip dive with two pool tables and a lengthy whiskey menu.

Zeitgeist User Reviews

Average rating:
Home away from home
Anne C. Jun 22, 2013
Being from Germany, I have a tendency to be a tad critical of beer gardens in other countries. Friends would bring me from one beer garden to another whenever I visit, just to see if any would finally meet my standard. Unfortunately, none did. So I got dragged to Zeitgeist during my recent trip to San Francisco, I wasn't really expecting anything different compared to the previous places I've been introduced to. Upon entering Zeitgeist, however, it proved me wrong. From the interior to the music and everything in between, it was anything but usual. The beer selection is superb - the most I've seen in the city, and the Bloody Mary? It didn't win an award for nothing! The crowd is huge and friendly, exactly the way it should be in beer gardens. Arrive a stranger and leave as a friend. In Zeitgeist, I found my home away from home.
Living up to its revolutionary name
Olivia G. Jun 10, 2013
Looking for the real, young-hip San Franciscan ultimate hang-out spot? If your passions include grunge, beer, and homemade tamales, this is definitely the place for you. The backyard patio is the place to be if it's a rare sunny day in San Francisco and you want a collective spot to hang out with friends after a day of fun and debauchery at Dolores Park. Arrive early if your wolf-pack has expanded to over 4 people, finding a table for your whole group of friends can be a bit hard sometimes. Just a two-man wolf-pack? Making friends is easy when you're crammed into picnic tables. Awesome selection of beers, other cocktails are available upon request, and seriously the bar food (the grilled cheese is to die for) is delicious and affordable. Usually it's chilly later in the day so don't forget to bring something to cover up with, karl the fog (yes San Francisco has a name for the fog) likes to come hang out around then.
Yes and Yes
Laryn P. Jun 7, 2013
I like Kimberly's review. If a SF local hears you say you haven't been to Zeigeist, they'll bring you. Kinda true actually ! I've done that with a few friends that haven't been there. I have to hand it to the owners/managers there as they have kept it the same through all the trends. They've updated and restored a lot of structural items, but kept the look exactly the same. Their burgers are AWESOME. try them. Bloodys, amzing. Beer selection, amazing. Great people watching. You are allowed to smoke on the patio. One of the few places you can in SF nowadays. But, there aren't many, so if you are a non smoker sitting on the patio, you can scurry to another section. It's a proper german style bier garden :). A lot of people having fun, drinking, hanging out, listening to extremely loud music.
A true San Francisco beer garden
Kimberly K. May 13, 2013
Legend is that if you tell any San Franciscan that you've never been to Zeigeist they not only bring you there that second but buy your first drink. Zeigeist is not your typical beer garden, oh no, it has a Californian twist or more accurately a Mission hipster twist that gives you a crash course feeling of what it is to be part of this city. While the burgers are your typical bar food the beer selection more than makes up for the cuisine. Try the Great White, a belgium style light beer that brewed up in Cloversdale (that's Sonoma County for you out of towners). In fact most of the beers offered at Zeigeist are brewed in California. Not a beer drinker? No worries, they serve up awesome bloody marys with plenty of vegetables. Be warned, joints are passed around in this establishment just as freely as pitchers and once the sun goes down the temperature drops. So make sure you bring your hat as well as your sunscreen
Bloody Marys & Sunshine
Andrea G. May 13, 2013
On sunny days you will find this place packed. The back patio area makes zeitgeist the perfect place to enjoy the sunshine with their specialty bloody mary adorned with olives and pickled string beans or a cold beer. You can always find friends talking, smoking or playing games. If you ask any local what they think of this place and they will say, "It's great! Just make sure you bring a jacket!"
Sunny Day Legend
Sheree W. May 2, 2013
There are two things San Francisco fun enthusiasts should do on a sunny day: take a walk and get to Zeitgeist. This isn't a swanky lounge by any stretch of the word, but the beer garden out back is the place to be when you want to soak up the sun and make new friends. From the look of the place, a newbie may expect nothing but awful domestics (aka water beer) to be on tap. But this deliciously divey hot spot serves up some of the best brews around, and has a selection that will satisfy even the snobbiest craft brew enthusiast. Get ready to be social and grab a spot at the picnic tables out back, put some tunes on the jukebox and prepare to wonder what happened to your afternoon.
Beer Lovers' Eden
Carly S. Apr 4, 2013
Okay, now this is one of my all-time favorite hangout spots in the city, not only for their immense beer selection (almost 50 on tap!), happy hour and award-winning Bloody Marys but also for their amazing beer garden…or Bloody Mary garden, depending how you look at it. If it’s too cold, sure, sit inside, but I recommend bundling up so you can relish in the experience that awaits you outdoors. Their backyard is filled with about 20 large picnic benches where young folks flock for beer and camaraderie. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink before catching a show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall or just during a fun night out in the Mission. The casual atmosphere is fit for large crowds, also—especially ones that dig heavy metal. No, people, it ain’t your grandma’s soundtrack but non-metalheads need not fear cause the conversation and people-watching are sure to drown out the head banging music in the background. They even have a food menu; short though it may be, what better to accompany that beer in your belly than burgers, grilled cheese and sausages? You’re sure to make new friends, too, since everyone sits together at picnic benches. That being said, it’s a great spot for those flying solo, so cuddle up next to some soon-to-friends and mark this as a San Francisco must-see.
The Emperor Has No Clothes
Logan H. Mar 24, 2013
Zetigeist is a San Francisco institution. In a city of seven square miles that ain't gettin' any bigger, it's almost impossible to find anywhere with a decent patio, much less good food and a decent Bloody Mary and Zeitgeist does have that covered in spades. Unfortunately, they know it. Zeitgeist has fallen victim to that most common and regrettable of San Francisco ailments - Hipper than Thou syndrome. Zeitgeist is kind of like every annoying ex girlfriend I've ever had - they expect you to know everything about them but will sigh and roll their eyes if you ask a question. Of course, some people don't feel like they're getting the real Mission experience if they don't have to wait four deep just to get attitude from everyone from the bartenders to the fry cooks; having to pay a four dollar fee at the ATM because the staff can't be bothered to deal with credit cards feels authentic and the fact that they WILL kick you out for violating their 'no photo' policy just means that they keep it real, right? But once you've run the judgemental gauntlet of getting an overpriced and overrated Bloody Mary, been looked down on by a fry cook for asking for no mustard on your burger, you then run into another of San Francisco's classic ailments: there's nowhere to park your ass because the yuppies have taken up all the spots. Despite it's rock n'roll persona, Zeitgeist's crowd is more North Face than metal face (must be the only people who can afford the prices) and it's the kind of place where people linger. As a result, unless you get there early you'll end up standing around awkwardly trying to manage a drink and a plate of food while you scan the crowd like a fresh divorcee. Do yourself a favor and check out Southern Pacific or Mad Dog in the Fog and leave this place to the kids from Danville.
Sunday Funday Wrecked My Monday
Danielle M. Feb 20, 2013
Two words: Sunday Funday. If you have had some Saturday nights like mine, there is no place better to spend your Sunday than at the magical world of Zeitgeist. You walk in feeling like the devil himself has taken a dump on your life, and leave feeling like a Greek God. The first time my friend took me to this Utopia I was scared out of my mind. The bunny on the door took me back to Donnie Darko and I was not accepting with what I thought was going to be waiting for me behind those doors, which turned out to be a massive bouncer posing as the hulk. However once you walk through the menacing interior you step out to a landscape equal to the Garden of Eden. What gives off the vibe of a bad ass biker bar is actually a place to escape from the madness of Mission Street into a beautiful watering hole filled with countless varieties of booze. The Bloody Mary’s are to die for. A meal in itself, it is garnished with an array of pickled vegetables. This nectar of the Gods will pick you straight out of the hands of Satan(aka; your hangover). I had to ask for an extra cup of their pickled green beans, because they are without a doubt the most scrumptious thing I have ever eaten. The variety of beers appeals to everyone's taste. The crowds of people that swarm over the patio benches are filled with a diverse crowd, raising their glasses to a day of debauchery. And what can be better than the Tamale Lady! This is the perfect place to journey to if you need to eat your hangover. The food menu can only be described as a greasy orgy, made by a man who gets down to his iPod as he flips meat patties. The endless supply of beers leads you to wonder how it ever got dark outside. What else can I say, other than Zeitgeist is a must. However, caution must be given. A Sunday at Zeitgeist can lead you to order $50 worth of pizza, and washing it down with a Mcflurry. My Sunday Funday at Zeitgeist has definitely ruined a few Mondays.
A Patio for All
Skyler S. Dec 4, 2012
Zeitgeist is San Francisco’s gateway bar to the Mission District dive scene. This one-time biker haunt draws foggy city dwellers from all walks with its outdoor patio and ample suds selection. Past the stern-faced doorman, bar speakers scream metal as everyone from hipsters to techies shout their orders off the 40-tap beer list. Straight back, a soggy pool table slumps next to the grill’s order window. There, cooks tap the tip jar and scowl at tightwads while serving cheeseburgers and home fries. Mixed drinks are stiff and the Bloody Mary has neighborhood pull. Both craft brews and cheap domestics are poured by the pitcher, but have your dollars in hand or be impatiently pointed to the “CASH ONLY” sign. Outside is an impressive party garden where wooden picnic tables occupy an area unrivaled in San Francisco. On a sunny weekend butts fill the benches by early afternoon, while pint glasses are raised to the lips of crew-cut professionals, dreadlocked bike messengers and ladies in leather jackets. Come sundown the 291-person capacity bar grows into a concert-like crowd that can be heard from the street as weed and cigarette smoke drifts skyward. An afternoon pint can quickly cascade into an intoxicated evening with new arrivals rambling in until last call. The salty staff takes no gruff and commonly kick folks to the curb for standing on benches, so have fun but limit the rowdiness. Zeitgeist’s biker days are gone.
Crusty, crunchy, out of control
Chris K. Nov 19, 2012
Ah, Zeitgeist, yours interior is like a bomb shelter, your patio like Altamont, complete with a dilapidated bus. Your soundtrack is a perfect blend of old-school punk, reggae, and metal that soothes the savage beast inside of me, and your beer selection is impressive far beyond the humble trappings of your interior. Your crowd? Nothing short of a collection of the upper-crust among the city's scum and villainy, a collection of bike messengers, bikers, and punks whose infected piercings, burning sneers, and heavy bike chains make me want to swoon with joy. Zeitgeist, you are my bay area home away from home, my favorite place in your hilly wonderland. Zeitgeist, I love you.
Burgers and Fries
Rachel G. Nov 17, 2012
There is nothing like Zeitgeist in San Francisco or anywhere else. One of my favorites part about this bar is the burgers! It's a lot of fun to come here with a big group and drink lots and still get great food along with it! They have a full menu of burgers, grilled sandwich's and home fries. The harsh blunt tones of the environment and the workers is something I love about this place. I am not easily hurt, so the crude comments that were made to me were no where near harsh words. I suggest you bring some friends, but not too many unless you want the bartenders to make fun of you a lot throughout the night.
Awesome place to gather your group, whatever binds you together!
Kathy O. Sep 11, 2012
Gather ye workmates, playmates, soulmates (ugh! I can't believe I said "soulmates"!), classmates or WHATEVERMATES: Zeitgeist is The Chill place to hang after a stressful, amazing or even boring week-day-year or afternoon. I drove by this San Francisco landmark (is there even a Zeitgeist sign anywhere????) for probably 15+ years, figuring people were having a great time inside, but that their clientele didn't include me. I assumed everyone there was most-likely way edgier than I, probably venturing off the edge, even. Then I started teaching (middle school) and hanging out with my (much younger) fellow teachers. The Friday-after-school-"milkshake"-gathering texts spread through the school and Zeitgeist was introduced to my somewhat limited repertoire of Bars of San Francisco I've Been To. I think it was the last day of school for San Francisco Unified, a few years back. I thought I was meeting my few fave teacher-buddies for a beer or two to commemorate another year survived despite tackling 11 to 14-year-olds seven hours a day. First of all, I scored the ultimate Rock-Star parking spot, right on the corner, in front of Zeitgeist, and it was legal! As I worked my way past the bar queues (yes, multiple line-ups to the bar—very orderly and civilized), I found a couple of my compadres getting in line for refills and was directed out back. It was kind of like walking past the concessions stands at the ballpark, past lines of patrons patiently awaiting their turn for a beer, ballpark frank or garlic fries. Then you find your way the Stadium, and the Wonderful World of Baseball envelops you and makes you feel part of a very special Club. That's what it was like going through the door to the patio at Zeitgeist. OK, maybe only sort of, but, it was definitely a whole different vibe out there. Tables and tables of people waving to their comrades to join come join us at our table, people milling around, embracing some long-lost colleague, or maybe someone you just saw 4th period, in the hall. And drooling people lined up for $4 tamales from the Tamale Lady, perfect for tiding you over till dinner or to soak up all the alcohol you're consuming. The atmosphere is festive, congenial, and well-fueled. It's worth the wait in line for refills. Just send one of your group (maybe with a buddy) to get refreshments for your whole table. Then come back and stay awhile. It'll be someone else's turn to do the refill run soon enough.
An SF Institution
Jayson M. Sep 7, 2012
My first visit to Zeitgeist was year ago when me and 25 drunken morons on a bachelor party outing pulled up in a bus and the doorman summarily told us to F off. I’ve been a fan ever since. Forty-odd beers, potent Bloody Marys on the weekend, regular visits from the famed tamale lady. Big outdoor patio that is consistently packed with people, all of them separated out like the friggin lunch room in high school. Skinny hipsters at one table, tatted punks over there, grizzly bikers next to them, backwards cap-wearing frat boys WOOT WOOT-ing at another table, etc. Used to have these awesome pota-potties back there but, alas, they’ve cleaned up a bit. Still, this ain’t a place to dress up for. You don’t want to get grease from those yummy burgers and grilled cheese sammies on your Chanel. Bartenders are typically first-rate a-holes, but it’s mostly an act. I guess it helps the suburban kids feel more edgy.
I'm Outdoorsy in that I Like Getting Drunk on Patios
Rachel M. Sep 6, 2012
It’s like stumbling upon an outdoor day kegger in the heart of the city. Except with some of the finest beers available on tap. Conspicuously nestled on the corner of Valencia and Duboce in the Mission District, and marked only by a skull with Playboy bunny ears, it's either the garage rock music blasting from the interior that lures you in--or curiosity. And you'll be glad you did. The beer selection is obviously the star of the show. Aside from the rows--yes, rows!--of beer on tap, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. Don't be intimidated by the hardcore facade, the bartenders are willing to recommend beers and good-naturedly jump in on conversation sometimes. While there is some seating at the bar and indoors, the outdoor beer garden is something to behold, especially on a nice day, where it turns into a huge, packed daytime party--where the beer is flowing, and pitchers of hefeweizen and oatmeal stouts sloshing around from being shared amongst large groups of friends. While most people seem to arrive in a posse, everyone seems to be mixing and mingling--especially on busy days, when everyone is forced to exist within such close proximity of each other. Those days, yes, it's a little tough to find seating--you might have to walk around in circles for a bit--but everyone tends to be friendly or in a really good mood or drunk and won't hesitate to share their picnic table if there's room. It's a must-try if you are a beer aficionado, or are nostalgic for that college hang-out vibe.
Take your friends or make a few
Annie C. Sep 6, 2012
The Mission has the best weather in the City and the outdoor beer garden utilizes it. If you come when it's crowded, most patrons tend to be welcoming to conversation or will scoot down for your group without a grunt. Great for their beer selection, new bathrooms out back and if you're looking for a chill spot to hang out with a large group of friends. The food is basic here so I like walking a few blocks to Taqueria Los Coyotes for Carne Asada fries that will satisfy your drunchies. A lesson from the bouncer here was “Always greet your bartender, sometimes they're just grumpy because customers forget they're people, too.”
There's Only One Zeitgeist
Jed G. Sep 4, 2012
As its name might imply, Zeitgeist is the epitome of egalitarian boozing, for better and for worst. Going to Zeitgeist never feels as simple as dropping by a bar for a drink. It's an experience. You go there to be with the people, all the people. It's not what you want all the time, but when you do, there's nothing else that quite compares to Zeitgeist. The best part of egalitarian boozing at Zeitgeist is that you can bring all your friends. The outdoor beer garden is so vast even the largest crews find space to post up. Need to park your bike? Lock it to the bike wall. Someone's getting hungry? Order up some BBQ. Just remember to go back in and get your food, cause no one's coming out to hand you anything. Time to switch to the hard stuff? Zeitgeist only serves pint-sized doubles. Less waiting for more drinks that way. And don't worry, self-serve pints of cold water are ready for whenever it's time to sober up. Sit, stand, smoke, spill, scream, smile…you're at Zeitgeist! Yet the worst part of egalitarian boozing at Zeitgeist is that everyone can bring all their friends. High volume is the standard, which means you constantly feel like you're inconveniencing your bartender (who is almost certainly blasting a hardcore record at you), your hands will end up sticky from all the shoulder bumping, and you'll be forgiven for never being tempted to shoot pool on that crowded, beer-soaked table. But any problem you have with Zeitgeist is probably more a problem you have with society or people in general anyway. So deal with it! Meet some new friends, try a new beer, marvel at the three-story painted Pabst pink elephant falling toward the garden floor, and ponder over who the hell lives in those apartments above one of the loudest bars in the city. In all its noisy glory, it makes sense that Zeitgeist can fall in and out of favor with any group of bar buddies. It makes even more sense after watching someone's sunny, short-sleeved day in the Mission turn into a cold, foggy night of survival in about ten minutes in the beer garden. But if one thing seems consistent about this bar, it's that no one ever says, "I'll never go back to Zeitgeist."
Social Beer Garden
Natalie M. Aug 17, 2012
Despite San Francisco's usual fog, I had a lot of fun on the outdoor patio at Zeitgeist. I was a little intimidated by the initial interior; it's very narrow and dark, the bar was extremely crowded, and the decorations definitely make it look like a biker bar. But once we got some big pitchers of beer and headed outside, the outdoor area was very spacious, and crowded but not packed with 20 somethings mingling, smoking and eating bratwursts (which are delicious). There's also a pool table inside and plenty of people willing to play. Fun afternoon spot to mingle and relax in the fog and occasional patches of sun; bring a sweatshirt even if it seems sunny because you never know when the clouds will roll in.
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