16 Watering Holes Perfect For Day Drinking In S.F.!

Sometimes, you just have to work on that fake cough, play a little hooky, and head out the door in search of some fun in the sun … accompanied by a mid-day margarita, of course. Thankfully, our fine city has plenty of day-drinking-friendly spots where you can do just that (and more).
From hidden patios to minimalist rooftops, you can awaken your inner bon vivant and lollygag alfresco while contemplating the beauty of the light glinting off your frosty glass. And, if you should feel inclined, a game of boozy bowling or spirited ping-pong under the influence perhaps? One warning: While a day spent buzzed may be decadently louche, we advise sipping slowly and hydrating frequently (safety first, kids). Without further ado, our top 16 list on where to indulge in a little liquor before 4 p.m. — we won't judge. Hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere!
Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
1 of 16
El Rio
At the border of Bernal and Mission, this party-town dive caters to all walks of life. Most are regulars here, but newbies are welcome, too. This is the San Francisco as Armistead Maupin envisioned it, a little bit burlesque, gangster, punk, and square all at once. It’s people watching at its best, but in our day and age, if a live band, salsa, free oyster nights, or a legendary topless unicycler doesn’t hold your attention, there’s also free Wi-Fi on the patio.

El Rio, 3158 Mission Street (between Powers and Precita avenues); 415-282-3325.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
2 of 16
Taking shots at this Mission-based drinking mecca is a must. The beer-garden patio is a studied tableau of hip scenery. Plus, the mascot is none other than a death bunny. While this biker dive has more bicycles than Harleys, this is a bar we come back time after time for the 40 beers on tap and the legendary bloody marys. They are served just they way like it — strong and at 9 a.m. And we don’t grumble about the kitchen service. A trip to Zeitgeist isn’t complete without the tamale lady and you know it!

Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia Street (at Duboce Avenue); 415-255-7505.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
3 of 16
The Ramp
Reachable by land and sea (have your skipper dock your boat in front), this Mission Bay bar with killer maritime views has been an institution since 1950. Once you’ve staked out a spot on the patio, this is a watering hole you can hang out from sun up ‘til sun down. There’s salsa and live music on weekend evenings and should you go overboard (har har har) on booze, a full menu of hangover classics await. Order one of the massive burgers or piled-on guac-and-chip plates, and guard your food from encircling gulls.

The Ramp, 855 Terry Francois Street (between Mariposa and Illinois streets); 415-621-2378.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
4 of 16
On a beautiful day you might feel like some sudsy goodness in the great outdoors. The only problem is everyone, and we mean everyone in the city who is of drinking age, will have the same idea. The smart move would be to get yourself to this Hayes Valley watering hole exactly when it opens. Claw at the gate if you have to, otherwise, it’s going to be a grueling 45-minute wait. One more word to the wise: Order more than you think you will drink. Even if your eyes are bigger than your liver — do you or those close to you want to wait in that line again? And if you do have your choice of a picnic table, we suggest one close to the bathroom, as you’ll be standing in line to get in there, too. To complete your traditional Bavarian experience, pickled beets, bratwurst, and pretzels are de rigueur, and you’ll be happy to know they’re locally sourced.

Biergarten, 424 Octavia Street (between Linden and Fell streets); 415-252-9289.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
5 of 16
For $1 oysters and $4 bubbles every weekend, there’s no other place we’d want to slack off than the back patio of this Japanese restaurant known for its sustainably sourced seafood. When you’ve had your fill of oysters move to the uni flan and house-cured sardines. In line with the establishment’s eco-mindedness, the little terrariums at every table are so cute we have to mention them, too.

Skool, 1725 Alameda Street (at De Haro Street); 415-255-8800.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
6 of 16
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
If you’re entertaining cosmopolitan guests or just wanting to feel supremely chic for an afternoon, head over to the waterfront patio of this Peruvian restaurant. Surrounded by breathtaking views and stylish ocean-blue chairs, order the table a bowl of cebiche, an empanada sampler, and sip the country’s liquid treasure — Pisco. Considering it may be one of several rounds, our afternoon cocktail of choice is pisco punch. We love sours, but unless you’re a regular protein drinker, say "no thank you" to egg whites before dark.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, Pier 1.5, Embarcadero Street (at Washington Street); 415-397-8880.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
7 of 16
Thee Parkside
On any given Sunday funday, you could find us on the patio of this friendly dive bar, partaking in $10 bottomless mimosas and a game of table tennis. Unlike your usual sticky-floor, single-bathroom establishment, Thee Parkside does try and suit the palate of all its nearby Potrero Hill residents. There's fried pickles and chili-cheese fries for the rowdy set, tater tots for the kiddies and the young at heart, and plenty of vegan options — including meatless chili and an innovative fried-tofu sandwich. As mentioned, libations are cheap and strong with a daily rotating special. Who can say no to $3 well drinks on a Saturday? Most impressive is that Thee Parkside wins everyone over without losing its edge. The bar hosts resident bands and a seasonal indie mart, proving punk in these parts is alive and well.

Thee Parkside, 1600 17th Street (between Carolina and Wisconsin streets); 415-252-1330.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
8 of 16
Chambers Eat + Drink
We’ve been singing the praises of this poolside restaurant inside the groovy Phoenix Hotel all summer long, and since chef Trevor Ogden inaugurated brunch, it earns a top spot in this day-drinking roundup. Where else can you start your day on the deep end? Breakfast for champions of the liquid variety include bloody marys and a caffeinated Earl Grey-infused gin. And, give your taste buds a umami wake-up call with the Eggs Royale: two sous-vide poached eggs, cold-smoked salmon, mandarin hollandaise, caviar, and chives. It’s the mother of all egg dishes.

Chambers Eat + Drink, 601 Eddy Street (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-829-2316.

Photo: Courtesy of Chambers Eat + Drink
9 of 16
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Oysters on a half shell, floor-to-ceiling bay views, and bubbly in the bright light of day, could life be any sweeter around this 25-seat U-shaped oyster bar inside the Ferry Building? Seafood lovers also swear by the locally sourced bivalves. The not-to-be-missed chowder tastes even better at the tables outside surrounded by the fresh marine air. We’ll take this over Fisherman’s Wharf any day.

Hog Island Oyster Co., 1 Ferry Building, Embarcadero Street (between Mission and Washington streets); 415-391-7117.

Photo: Courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.
10 of 16
In addition to the expert cocktail and food pairings at this bar-slash-restaurant in the Lower Haight, our reason for stopping by is its newly inaugurated brunch menu. Weekend lazybones will be especially thrilled to see a special section devoted to a.m. tippling. What caught our eye was the vitamin-C boost, the Corpse Reviver, consisting of stone fruit gin, cocchi, lemon, orange, and absinthe. And doesn’t Summer’s Kiss, an ethereal sipper of gin, strawberry, tomato water, basil, and balsamic just scream omelet on the side?

Maven, 598 Haight Street (between Steiner and Fillmore streets); 415-829-7982.

Photo: Courtesy of Maven
11 of 16
Southern Pacific Brewing
At this Mission brewpub, brewmaster Andy French tempts afternoon revelers with 21 frothy choices on tap, several of which are made on-site in a 15-barrel system at its 10,000-square-foot warehouse. Order off an extensive bar menu with classics like house-cured meats, gourmet pizzas, and burgers, and plunk down anywhere in this airy industrial space, cozified by indoor trees and upcycled signs. With a ground-floor bar and mezzanine, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Southern Pacific Brewing, 620 Treat Avenue (between 19th and Mistral streets); 415-341-0152.

Photo: Courtesy of Southern Pacific Brewing
12 of 16
It’s quite possible the scene at this 8,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant and bar almost overshadows the cocktails. This hotspot, flaunting a gunmetal bar, square planters, and groups of PYTs, is more in spirit with glamorous Miami or L.A., than the TL. To look the part, we say accessorize on-site with a cocktail in hand. We like the Patty Hearst, orange vodka, rose jam, and lemon juice, billed as a drink that will “hold your taste buds hostage.” If you’re planning to buy your own cocktails, make sure you bring a wad of bills. It’s a cash-only bar. Sunday brunch is low key, but come evening beware the lines that go around the corner.

Jones, 620 Jones Street (between Colin Place and Geary Street); 415-496-6858.

Photo: Courtesy of Jones
13 of 16
It’s like the limo you hired at prom, only better. This school bus-turned-keg-mobile would be one awesome way to impress a date. Imagine rolling up with a 93” fridge in the back that holds up to six 15.5-gallon kegs. To get a sweet ride on this party on wheels, you’ll have to make a reservation online or by phone. They make it almost too easy – slots are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for hour-long intervals. You could also stop by its frequent charity events at the makeshift beer garden at 160 Church Street. In the past, they’ve poured for youth (Mo’ Magic and Night Train Swimmers), urban farmers (City Slicker Farms), and the blind (SF Lighthouse). Keep tabs on its do-good whereabouts on its Facebook page.

Photo: Courtesy of Brewtruc
14 of 16
Lucky Strike
There isn’t a more perfect pairing than bowling and beer. Get chummy on one of the plush Chesterfield-style banquettes or pull up a stool at the 40-foot bar made of reclaimed wood beams. While this fun zone may be a national chain, local golden boy Brian Wilson is part owner, and the fans have followed. There’s a wide swathe of SoMa society from Cal Train commuters, game-day crowds, bachelorette revelers, and dot-com brogrammers. There is something for everyone on the menu from reliable crowd pleasers (sliders and chicken nachos) to notched-up classics like gluten-free mac and cheese, sushi, and macaroons.

Lucky Strike, 200 King Street (between 3rd and 4th streets); 415-400-8260.

Photo: Courtesy of Lucky Strike
15 of 16
SoMa StrEat Food Park
Look for the signs of this first-ever permanent food-truck pod. Open seven days a week, this grubbing ground features amenities uncommonly rare in roving food land, including ample seating, Wi-Fi, and real bathrooms (smell you later, Porta-Potties). And when you think it can’t get better, it does! There’s a newish beer garden right in the heart of this colony organized by the Boothby Center, a SoMa organization that celebrates and preserves the cultural heritage of spirits. Yup, you’ll be in good hands.

SoMa StrEat Food Park, 428 11th Street (between United States Highway 101 and Harrison Street); 925-899-7979.

Photo: Courtesy of SoMa StrEat Food Park
16 of 16
Outside Lands
Get excited! The organizers of this year’s Outside Lands, happening August 10 to 12, will be setting up the first-ever, much-anticipated Beer Lands tent. How did this take so long we wonder? In charge of the program is Dave McLean, owner of Magnolia Brewery and the Alembic. He’s selected 30 local California craft beers representing 16 breweries. Watch your back Metallica and David Cross — this may steal the show. Keeping it classy for fans is the return of Wine Lands, featuring over 30 local wines with Jardinière sommelier Eugenio Jardim and Cavallo Point’s Gillian Balance at the helm.

2012 Outside Lands Musical Festival, Golden Gate Park, Middle Drive West (at Metson Road).

Photo: Courtesy of Cameron Neilson/Outside Lands

More from San Francisco


R29 Original Series