Union Square is full of stylish cocktail bars, cozy lounges and lively pubs perfect for a post-shopping drink, happy hour with friends or pre-theater aperitif. Here are some of our favorite old and new hot spots.
Union Square SF's Top Ten Bars
1. One of our go-to impressive cocktail spots is Burritt Room + Tavern at the Mystic Hotel. When you walk into this space, you feel as if you’ve entered an atelier from the 1920’s with its exposed brick, vintage seating and crystal chandeliers. The menu is in line with those times and features a wide array of old-fashioned cocktails and variations of classic cocktails made with first-rate spirits, often crafted specially by star bartender Josh Trabulsi.
2. New on the scene is Hogwash, a brew parlor from the folks behind Zeki’s Bar with 30 beers on tap, house-made sausage and other tasty surprises.
3. Normally we wouldn’t include a dance club on a list of local bars, but Hawthorn manages just the right balance of cocktail lounge and DJ-driven nightlife spot for us to mention it. Try one of their modern takes on old-school cocktails, like an elevated Tequila Sunrise they call the Outer Sunset with Mezcal, grapefruit and house-made Campari.
5. Grab your neon headband and leopard print jacket and head over to Romper Room for a lively cocktail experience. From the folks behind CLASH scavenger hunts, Romper Room offers a list of simple, yet well-made cocktails in a brightly colored environment.
6. No one can deny that Union Square cocktail bar Cantina played a role in San Francisco’s evolution into cocktail mecca. These days, it seems like everywhere you look there are fresh muddled fruits, bitters and organic liquors, but these guys have truly been doing it since before it was a “thing.” One of our favorite drinks to this day is the Laughing Buddha made of Hangar One Buddha’s Hand Vodka, lime, ginger, chilies and ginger beer.
7. Library Bar at the Hotel Rex is Union Square’s answer to a French literary salon. In addition to classic cocktails, the lounge offers live jazz, movie nights and tasty bar bites, like beer battered pickles and more substantial options like Braised Pork Belly Rolled Tacos.
8. A classically chic spot to meet for a cocktails is Clock Bar at the Westin St. Francis. They have a rotating menu of intricate seasonal cocktails designed by lauded San Francisco Chef Michael Mina in addition to a list of classics.
9. For elevated pub fare, we recommend Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen. These guys know how to do bar bites with a tasty trio of deviled eggs and spicy chickpeas as some of our favorites. The mains are also excellent such as the Cali Grilled Cheese and the Mussel Pot. They also offer well-balanced cocktails and a nice selection of beer and wine. It’s basically a crowd-pleaser.
10. Who doesn’t love an old-school bar with a baseball theme? Lefty O’Doul’s serves as a link to Union Square’s past, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside a full drink list that has spurred their own line of mixers (including a Bloody Mary and Margarita mix).