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).
A rule of thumb: if the name of a San Francisco bar contains a number, it's probably a dive. The venerable 3300 Club is no exception; this is a corner bar at Mission and 29th Streets that's been owned by the same Irish-American family for over half a century. Hip but not overly so, and surprisingly diverse, this down-low drink spot offers plate-glass windows for scene scanning and proximity to some of the area’s best restaurants. Before dinner at Pizza Hacker or after fried chicken at the Front Porch, this is a sure spot to start the night – or keep it rolling – thanks to cheap cans of beer and the ever-flickering ambiance of a sports game on the television. Few other watering holes demonstrate such peaceful coexistence between all the Mission's thirsty tribes.
Though its original plan in 1978 was to be a leather Brazilian gay bar, El Rio now shuns dress codes, instead welcoming guys in tutus, ladies in wigs, and even dogs. Inside, this diverse crowd mingles over rounds of shuffleboard and billiards and rowdy dice games. Visitors can bring their own food to enjoy with margaritas and drinks from a bloody Mary bar with flavored vodkas. A nightclub feel takes over in the later hours, when the space hosts such events as karaoke, burlesque, and indie band shows. The only kind people expressly not welcome are jerks, whom the establishment has a “bad bad temper for.” Along with jerks, credit cards are not accepted.