A Bit of History: The Ramp wasn’t even serving food when it started in 1950—well, not the human kind anyway. That’s because it was just a bait shop. Eventually, it acquired its first food-related piece of equipment, a hot-dog machine, to service the boatyard next door. Since then, it’s expanded the menu considerably and, due to a large bayside patio, has become a staple of waterside dining in Mission Bay.
Where to Sit: Grab a plastic patio chair at one of the old wooden tables equipped with a shade umbrella.
When to Go: Head in Saturday for brunch followed by salsa dancing with live musicians (May—October). Otherwise, head in for a rotating lineup of specially priced dishes, such as oysters on the half shell, and drinks during happy hour every Monday—Friday from 4:30pm until 7pm.
While You’re Waiting
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Test your sea legs with a cruise under the Bay Bridge and past Alcatraz with Ruby Sailing (855 Terry A Francois Boulevard)
After: Dance into the night with salsa and tango at Cafe Cocomo (650 Indiana Street)
Featured on Travel Channel's Feed the Beast and hailed as the area's Best White Trash Diner by SF Weekly, Butter reunites patrons with deep-fried and microwaveable specialties reminiscent of afterschool indulgences. The full bar and restaurant pairs its premium well drinks and 16-ounce tall cans with dishes including tater tots, mini corn dogs, and deep-fried pog slammers. Chefs infuse cocktails with grape and strawberry sodas, and pillage a pantry to turn up desserts including twinkies and deep-fried peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. In the midst of glowing beer signs and traditional bar décor, a Winnebago emerges from the wall guided by neon headlights. Against this backdrop, Butter hosts a regular array of themed parties such as retro Fridays, house music Saturdays, and karaoke Sundays.
Delirium cocktail lounge and bar welcomes revelers under its retro neon sign into darkened interiors for late-night libations and themed music nights. Weekly events see appearances by oft-recurring guest DJs who swaddle guests' ears in throbbing spins of electronic, ska, and punk anthems. Bartenders stir up eclectic vodka and whiskey cocktails at a marble-sided bar, while guests cavort across the tile floor, surrounded by graffiti décor and bathed in soft blue light. Delirium also hosts recurring events such as comedy nights, crock-pot offerings, and a complimentary afternoon barbecue on Saturday, Sunday, and any day when the barbecue stork drops by.
When to Go: Try planning your visit to coincide with the the annual Barleywine Festival, when bartenders devote all of their taps to this strong, fruity ale.
While You’re Waiting: Scan the menu that hangs above the bar. It’s best to have an order in mind by the time you reach the bartender—the staff can be a touch surly.
By the Numbers
The Vibe: Toronado definitely gives off a divey vibe. Its walls are covered with antique beer signs, and old draft handles look down from the ceiling like the ghosts of pints past.
In the Press
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Order a bratwurst at Rosamunde Sausage Grill (545 Haight Street), and bring it with you to the bar.
After: Take a class in night photography or darkroom techniques at Harvey Milk Photo Center (50 Scott Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Play pinball between beers at Lucky 13 (2140 Market Street).
The Backstory: The Broken Record's kitchen has been reinvented a handful of times in recent years, and the latest iteration—Hood Grub—serves up organic, sustainable bar food created by Chef Michael Nguyen. Though a few staples from the old kitchen make an appearance, including the much-loved sweet-potato tots, most of the menu is new.
While You’re Waiting: Explore the bar area’s amenities, which include pool tables, TVs, dartboards, and beer. However, it’s the whiskey selection that really sets the Broken Record apart. If the Four Roses bourbon on tap doesn't catch your eye, consider pours of rare whiskies such as Macallan Speymalt 35 year and Glenrothes 1972.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Hood Grub's owners and chef are also the masterminds behind the casual New American eatery the Vine (37533 Niles Boulevard, Fremont).
Only a few years after the Gold Rush began, San Francisco residents were getting their drink fix at the corner of 16th and Guerrero. Though the saloon is one of the oldest continually operating bars in the city, today’s menu would appear alien to yesterday’s patrons, with its organic spirits, “low impact” drinks with less alcohol, and dizzying selection of more than 300 whiskeys. Read on to follow the saloon’s journey from 19th-century watering hole to modern-day hotspot.
1858: Elixir sprouts up at 16th and Guerrero, making it the first—and only—business to ever occupy that corner.
1906: The earthquake destroys the original bar, but owner and prominent city lawyer Patrick J. McGinnis has it rebuilt on the same spot.
1920–1933: What Prohibition? During these years, Elixir lists itself as a “Soft Drink Parlor” in the city’s business directory.
1933: Post-Prohibition renovations include the stockroom’s conversion to a women’s bathroom, signalling a social shift in American bar culture.
1940: The bar is renamed the Hunt-In Club, the first of multiple owner-driven name changes over the next five decades.
1985: Members of the Latino LGBT community frequent this spot, calling it Club Corona or La Bandita depending on who you ask.
1990: With a new name—Jack’s Elixir Bar—and a new focus—microbrews—the bar boasts more than 60 beers on tap.
2003: Jack’s undergoes a thorough renovation that includes new taps, an emphasis on tequila, and a pared-down name: Elixir.
2009: Bartender and owner H. Joseph Ehrmann speaks at the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans as an authority on San Francisco–style drinks.