SF Dive Bars Overview

Phone Booth - Dive Bar in SF

Finding a San Francisco dive bar is easy for two reasons. First, the city is actually quite small (barely seven square miles), so you physically can’t be that far away from one no matter where you are. And second, there are a ton of them crammed into this tiny city, because denizens love them some SF dive bars.

A great place to start on a San Francisco dive bar hunt would be The Mission, and probably the best known Mission dive is 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-laden courtyard.

Casanova Lounge is another great Mission dive, and whether the name is meant ironically or in reverence to the famed womanizer, what’s assured is this steamy lounge has one of the most varied DJ lineups in town – as well as one of the cheapest drink selections in The Mission.

Toronado over in The Haight is an SF dive bar with a phenomenal beer selection – so much so the place literally reeks of beer – while Chinatown’s Li Po Cocktail Lounge was (reportedly) once an opium den and is (allegedly) haunted by drug-addled ghosts who wish they could get in on some of Li Po’s barebones cocktails.

Those looking for a sugar-fixed dive need search no further than the tropical paradise that is The Richmond’s Trad’r Sam, and anyone in need of Lite-Brite signs, waterbeds, Ford and Chevy truck grilles, shag-covered benches, and acres of laminated boobs should hit up Kozy Kar in Nob Hill (Seriously, go, it will all make sense).

There are a ton of San Francisco dive bars catering to budget-minded drinkers of all persuasions. Now do as the San Franciscans do: get on your bike and go find one!

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