The Ultimate Nightlife Guide To S.F. — Party Time!

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on May 2.]
It's the end of the workweek and you're dying to blow off steam. Your friends are ready to rally and you have outfits begging to be worn under disco lights. So, why is it that you’re sitting in your room, silently cursing the confusing (and who are we kidding, downright lacking) nightlife in this city?
We get it. San Francisco is awesome with a side of sun, but in order to set off shenanigans, we’ve compiled the city's must-hit, ultimate party guide. Based on what kind of trouble you're looking to get into — whether you’re in the mood to get low in a big crowd or chill with an intimate few — this will definitely steer your evening escapades in the right direction. Have we got big plans for you...
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If You're Looking To: Snack On Some Bites While You Booze

Chambers Eat + Drink
The Phoenix Hotel's rock-'n-roll vibe carries through to its chic, sexy bar and restaurant, encouraging guests to simply "Be amazing" while laying low in the lounge. And, the fancy fare is worth a gold star in our book (we just crowned their burger one of the best in S.F.). If you happen to stroll in on beautiful night, we suggest taking your bites under the stars, where you'll be backlit by the turquoise pool on the terrace.
Chambers Eat + Drink, 601 Eddy Street (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-829-2316.

Vinyl Coffee & Wine Bar
The unassuming coffee bar over in Nopa just also happens to house a pretty neat after-dark scene boasting nightly pop-ups with scrumptious fare. Who knew?! Starting at 5:30 p.m. choose your pour from an enviable wine list and nosh on grub from local vendors such as Sneaky’s BBQ and PizzaHacker. If you feel like flexing those brain muscles, swing by for Tuesday night trivia or geek out and join the Game of Thrones viewing party on Sundays.
Vinyl Coffee & Wine Bar, 359 Divisadero Street (between Page and Oak streets); 415-621-4132.

Dear Mom
The multicultural nibbles on the menu at the local Mission-lover’s watering hole definitely keep the PBR chugging patrons coming back for seconds. The papas fritas taste awesome after a few cold ones, and the communal tables make a great dining area for you and your pals. Bonus: An up-to-date jukebox will fuel that private dance party.
Dear Mom, 2700 16th Street (between Folsom and Harrison streets); 415-625-3362.

Other Notables:
620 Jones, 620 Jones Street, (between Colin Place and Geary Street); 415-496-6858.
Zoe’s Bar & Restaurant, 3088 24th Street (between Folsom and Lucky streets); 415-817-1972.

Photo: Courtesy of Chambers Eat + Drink
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If You're Looking To: Rock Out To Some Live Music

The Independent
Something about this intimate venue, right smack in the middle of the buzzy Divisadero strip, attracts some of the best acts in the business (both Solange and Polica made appearances in the last few months!). Seriously — the people-watching is epic, the tickets are budget-friendly, and the small stage makes you feel like you're part of show.
The Independent, 628 Divisadero Street (between Hayes and Grove streets); 415-771-1421.

Bottom of the Hill
Known for its cheap shows and small indie acts, Bottom of the Hill is Potrero’s answer to the dive-y venue. With live music most nights, be pleasantly surprised as to what you'll discover. The crowd is mixed — some shows are all ages — so be forewarned that it can skew a little rough around the edges. (Tip: If it gets too packed, step out to the patio and take in the music from there.)
Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th Street (between Texas and Missouri streets); 415-626-4455.

Club Deluxe
This place is the ultimate for a jazz-filled, adult evening out (i.e. a romantic date night). Located in upper Haight, the intimate venue boasts fresh-squeezed cocktails, delicious pizza, and dimly lit interiors. Be prepared to impress your down-tempo lovin’ friend, or, yes, your potential new love interest!
Club Deluxe, 1511 Haight Street (between Clayton and Ashbury streets); 415-552-6949.

Rickshaw Stop
Rickshaw Stop is king for catching under-the-radar talent right before they blow up. The crowd veers young with a healthy appetite for dancing and booze-infused craziness, so expect a lively venue (especially when popular bands are playing) and come early to score a couch on the balcony.
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street (between Van Ness and Franklin Street); 415-861-2011.

Great American Music Hall
The Tenderloin is home to all sorts of entertainment; most nights you don’t even have to go inside a venue to be thoroughly amused. But, if you’re looking for something a little more worth your while in the TL, head to the ornately decorated Great American Music Hall. While you're ogling the décor, let your ears feast on the whimsical folk and indie rock acts or nosh on some grub on the upper mezzanine.
Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-885-0750.

Other Notables:
The Chapel, 777 Valencia Street (between 19th and 18th streets); 415-551-5157.
Café Du Nord, 2174 Market Street (between Sanchez and 15th streets); 415-861-5016.
SF Jazz Center, 201 Franklin Street (between Linden and Fell streets); 866-920-5299.
Brick & Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission Street (between Duboce Avenue and Otis Street); 415-800-8782.
The Mint, 1942 Market Street (between Laguna and Guerrero streets); 415-626-4726.

Photo: Courtesy of The Independent
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If You're Looking To: Get Down And Dirty In A Dive Bar

500 Club
Whether you're looking to let off steam or completely lose your integrity, the 500 is the place to do it. One of the oldest neighborhood bars in the Mission, this place is crawling with eclectic folks, all interested in just one thing — having a damn good time. With ultra-cheap drinks, booths to get cozy, and a photo booth (hello!) this is a great place to end any night out.
500 Club, 500 Guerrero Street (at 17th Street); 415-861-2500.

Bender’s Bar and Grille
We have a soft spot for Bender's whiskey and PBR specials, live music, and amazing bar food (did somebody say free BBQ on Sundays?). If that’s not enough, there’s plenty of seating, a pool table, an outside patio, and cheap metal shows galore. Seriously, what more could you ask in a dive?

Bender’s Bar and Grill, 806 South Van Ness Avenue (between 19th and 20th streets); 415-824-1800.

The Attic Club
Throw on your favorite ripped rocker T-shirt and jeans and head on over to the Mission’s cavernous Attic Club nestled on 24th Street. This no frills, punk-rock dive is super dark, moody, and a totally awesome place to get your booze on.
The Attic Club, 3336 24th Street (between Bartlett and Osage streets); 415-643-3376.

Casanova Lounge
While you may find yourself wanting to avoid the main Valencia drag on the weekends, if you do end up here, you can always find solace from the maddening crowds by dipping into Casanova. The unique décor (naked ladies, y’all!) pairs well with the cheap drinks and cozy atmosphere. Hit this one up with a gaggle of friends, because you never know what might happen.

Casanova Lounge, 527 Valencia Street (between 16th and 17th streets); 415-863-9328.

Other Notables:
Pop’s Bar, 2800 24th Street (between York and Bryant streets); 415-401-7677.
Li Po Lounge, 916 Grant Avenue (at Washington Street); 415-982-0072.
The Lexington Club, 3464 19th Street (at Lexington Street); 415-863-2052.
Latin American Club, 3286 22nd Street (between Bartlett and Valencia streets); 415-647-2732.
Club Waziema, 543 Divisadero Street (between Fell and Hayes streets); 415-346-6641.

Photgraphed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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If You're Looking To: Show Off Your Moves On The Dance Floor

While we don't usually recommend venturing out to Sixth Street at night, hitting up the crazy-cool, non-clubby, dance club Mezzanine is definitely worth the risk. The sound system consistently bumps electronica and lines up the event calendar with the most danceable live shows. With a huge dance floor overlooking a two-story VIP lounge, it's no wonder this buzz-worthy SoMa treasure is a favorite place to sweat it out 'til the wee hours.
Mezzanine, 444 Jessie Street (between Mint and 6th streets); 415-625-8880.

Madrone Art Bar
While S.F. nighttime adventurers don’t usually react well to waiting in line, when they hear of a dance jam at Madrone — well, that’s another story. Whether you’re hitting up Motown Monday or a Saturday No Theme Dance Jam, it's a pro move to come early. So, avoid the lines and stake your claim on the dance floor!
Madrone Art Bar, 500 Divisadero Street (between Fell and Hayes streets); 415-241-0202.

When dealing with dueling personalities that want a bar and a club in the same night, this multi-hyphenate hits the mark. Downstairs is a hot, crowded, sweaty dance floor blasting electro and house music, while upstairs is all about the lounge-y vibe. If you really want to go big and are prepared to drop some cash (we hear bold-faced names like Mark Farina and Thievery Corporation play DJ sets) — make a beeline to Monarch.
Monarch, 101 6th Street (between Minna and Mission streets); 415-284-9774.

The Knockout
Half dive, half dance party, The Knockout consistently kills it with its themed get-down parties. In the mood for some Night Beats? How about shaking your tail to Sweater Funk? Are '90s Pop or Swinging Oldies more your get wild style? Whatever your booty poppin’ poison is, the KO has something you’re going to like.
The Knockout, 3223 Mission Street (between Valencia and 29th streets); 415-550-6994.

Other Notables:
Edinburgh Castle Pub, 950 Geary Street (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-885-4074.
Mighty, 119 Utah Street (between Alameda and 15th streets); 415-762-0151.
Public Works, 161 Erie Street (at Mission Street); 415-932-0955.

Photo: Courtesy of Mezzanine
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If You're Looking To: Find A Chill Spot To Kick Back

The Riptide
If anyone in S.F. has perfected the art of chillin', it's the folks in the Outer Sunset. So, it's no surprise to us that one of the most laid-back bars in the city is way out there in the fog. The Riptide is a cozy cornerstone for the beach community with a ton of draws for non-Sunset dwellers. Let's start with the fireplace, and if that's not enough, there's a karaoke and a game night, as well as open mic on Mondays. Grab a sweater and get out there now.
The Riptide, 3639 Taraval Street (between 46th and 47th avenues); 415-681-8433.

Two Sisters Bar and Books
We’re totally obsessed with this sister operated, Hayes Valley spot and its quirky, librarian-esque charm and wit. This lovely escape screams for a cozy date night or an overdue chat with friends about the new novel you can’t get your nose out of. The dainty drinks mirror the vintage, relaxed aesthetic but be forewarned this place is teeny-tiny, so come early for a seat.
Two Sisters Bar and Books, 579 Hayes Street (between Octavia and Laguna streets); 415-863-3655.

Other Notables:
Lone Palm, 3394 22nd Street (between Guerrero Street and San Jose Avenue); 415-648-0109.
Terroir Natural Wine Merchant, 1116 Folsom Street (between 7th and Langton streets); 415-558-9946.

Photo: Courtesy of Riptide
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If You're Looking To: People Watch With A Delicious Drink In Hand

Whether you're looking to meet someone cute or play a game of pool with your friends, Churchill's dark, cozy atmosphere is a comfortable place to start your night out. This speakeasy-slash-bar in the Castro serves classic, throwback cocktails that are too good to pass up.
Churchill, 198 Church Street (between Reservoir and Market streets); No phone.

Trick Dog
The Bon Vivant’s new, epically cool joint on 20th street — hanging on the cusp of Potrero and the Mission — has babe bartenders serving up taste-bud tickling tonics to an even better looking crew of neighborhood locals. With this superior saloon scene, it's no wonder the cool crowd counts this as their weeknight watering hole. Featuring adult treats infused with olive oil and beet puree, you can’t go wrong ordering from its Pantone color-wheel inspired menu.
Trick Dog, 3010 20th Street (between Alabama and Florida streets); 415-471-2999.

15 Romolo
Looking to get gussied up with pals for a night out in North Beach? Skip the strip and head straight to this hidden gem. Tucked behind the gentlemen’s clubs and souvenir shops is a classy tavern that perfects throwback without even a tinge of old-timey. Filled with candlelit cocktail tables and comfy booths, the saloon’s sexy bartenders are slinging well-crafted libations while the chilled-out crowd gets their chill on.
15 Romolo, 15 Romolo Place (between Broadway and Fresno streets); 415-398-1359.

Blackbird Bar
The dapper and diverse crowd at Blackbird Bar is just one of the major pluses for this Market hotspot. You’ll find ample seating up and down the long interior to cast your view on partying patrons who are kept well-lit by a savvy staff that knows how to put a little effort into the pours. There are plenty of stylish people watching (and meeting!) along these long black walls.
Blackbird Bar, 2124 Market Street (between Church and Sanchez streets); 415-503-0630.

Burritt Room
Another nod to the prohibition era, Union Square-adjacent Burritt Room in the Mystic Hotel pumps out classic whiskey cocktails aside artisanal concoctions with ingredients such as rhubarb foam and blood orange bitters. The secluded booths provide great cover for friend catch-ups and gin-induced covert conversations. Want to take that super-chic mod dress out for a spin? This is definitely the place.
Burritt Room, 417 Stockton Street, 2nd Floor (between Sutter and Bush streets), 415-400-0500.

Another Notable:
The Hideout at Dalva, 3121 16th Street (between Valencia and Guerrero streets); 415-252-7740.

Photo: Courtesy of Churchill
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If You're Looking To: Get An Eyeful And An Earful

111 Minna
This white-walled SoMa space knows how to blend art and music in a way that makes coming to art openings so very unpretentious. Interesting patrons abound with a crowd that changes as frequently as the art hanging. People tend to gather in groups, so if you're rolling solo, slide yourself into a new conversation and make friends.

111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna Street (between New Montgomery and 2nd streets); 415-974-1719.

Project One Gallery
What goes best with emerging artists and killer installations? Um, dancing of course! Project One’s spacious Potrero Hill gallery is lined with contemporary art. In a flash, the space turns into a dance party featuring both local and global DJs who want you to crush it on their dance floor.
Project One Gallery, 251 Rhode Island Street (at 15th Street); 415-938-7173.

Another Notable:
The Armory Club, 1799 Mission Street (between Erie and 14th streets); No phone.

Photo: Courtesy of 111 Minna

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