Singles bars in San Francisco
This beloved, decades-old dive embodies all-inclusive San Francisco at its finest, welcoming a colorful cross-section of the city—young and old, gay and straight. The dog-friendly patio is huge and inviting, while inside you’ll find shuffleboard and pool tables, a trusty old jukebox, and an anything-goes dance floor where bands, DJs, burlesque dancers and karaoke kings perform nightly. In warmer months, live bands play everything from salsa to bluegrass out back. Between the casually competitive bar games, chatty patio, and ongoing dance party, introductions happen naturally.
Layer up and head out to the Outer Sunset, where this comfortable, classy bar is serving inventive cocktails for a friendly crowd of artists and surfers. Owned and managed by Matt Lopez and Carlos Yturria—both avid surfers themselves—this spot attracts a contingent of laid-back neighborhood regulars. The space is unfussy, but thoughtfully designed, from the white cubic tiling to the turquoise bar stools and requisite reclaimed wood. Order up one of their rotating spiked-slushies and snag a seat near the cozy fireplace.
This indoor-outdoor hotel bar abutting the Embarcadero wins points for the sheer volume of young, post-work locals that frequent it. During happy hour, the Americano is perpetually slammed with button-down and blazer-clad twenty- and thirty-somethings converging from FiDi, SoMA, and Mid-Market. The happy hour specials—seasonal cocktails, wine, beer, and apps—are solid and the shabby-chic space offers plenty of seating and areas for small groups to mingle. It’s conveniently just a couple blocks from BART or Muni, whether you’re planning on heading home after your drink or bar hopping with a new beau.
Mikkeller, the Copenhagen-born craftbrew powerhouse, has single-handedly transformed the Tenderloin’s beer scene. The high-ceilinged, exposed brick bar is industrial-cool, decked with playful murals by Keith Shore and all 40 taps are stocked with interesting ales and lagers (particularly sours), including regular limited-edition collaborations. The 80-seat space is sexy, but laid-back, with plenty of room to circulate between the main bar, the front lounge with its open communal tables, and the downstairs cellar room, but the focal point is the 30-seat, four-sided bar ideal for scoping out alluring strangers.
This old-school San Francisco staple, a metal-blasting beer bar with a biker’s aesthetic, has one of the best day-drinking patios in the city, in spite of—or maybe because of—its lack of frills. Neighborhood regulars, hipsters and friendly long-haired riff raff mingle out back, crowded into rustic picnic tables surrounded by wacky murals. The overworked bartenders may take their time getting to you but it’s worth it for one of the dive’s legendary Bloody Marys (served all day) or a pitcher of local craft beer from one of their extensive selection of taps.
Sometimes “You got next?” is the only icebreaker you need. At Emporium, the grown-up arcade, bar and music venue, an attractive stranger is more likely to challenge you to a game of Skee-Ball than attempt a cheesy pick-up line. Set in the sprawling former space of the historic 1926 Harding Theater, the four-story, 12,000-square-foot space is packed with diversions like pinball, air hockey, arcade games, pool, foosball, and more. The appeal is in the balance of high- and low-brow: The spot shows off its scattered touches of its original ‘20s glamour, from the crown molding to the intricate carved ceilings, while slinging craft beers and arcade tokens to the game-playing masses.
Brass Tacks owners Anthony Healy-London, Josh McAdam, and Matt Conway opened their second bar in spring 2016—the polar opposite of their first. Where Brass Tacks is dark, loud and moody, Anina is bright, airy and summery with Moroccan tiles, a palm-frond mural and a sunny, eight-table patio. Spritzes and aperitivos are designed for pre-dinner sipping, while $46 large format punch bowls are meant to be shared (sloppily).
In the tradition of Suppenkuche and Biergarten, Fort Mason’s newest German beer hall is made for friends, those you know and those you haven’t met yet. Filled with natural light, Radhaus pays homage to this former Army machine shop with quiet industrial touches. An open floor plan set with communal benches and an oversized bar, keeps beer-and-pretzel lovers close for shared marveling at panoramic views of the Bay through the restaurant’s wall of windows.
There’s a slightly sinister twist to the Duboce Triangle’s new tiki bar, Last Rites. Set in the hollowed out innards of a downed plane, here the island kitsch—jungle vines and stone idols—is of a Temple of Doom-inspired variety; just ask any one of the fallen masses whose skulls line the top shelf of the bar. The drinks here, in proper tiki form, are strong and sweet and punch bowls like the Flying Tiger, a high-flying combination of rum, banana liqueur, absinthe, lemon, molasses and clarified milk, are perfect for sharing with fellow doomed passengers along for the ride.
There’s just something about an outdoor patio that breaks down the barriers between us, a superpower that Uptown Oakland’s Lost and Found has in spades. This longtime neighborhood favorite, breezy and open inside with long communal tables, has a beer garden of epic proportions outside. Stocked with party games like cornhole and pingpong and partially covered and heated in the winter months, the Lost and Found is a magnet for fun-loving drinkers of all ages. Order some shareable snacks (buffalo cauliflower “wings,” anyone?) and make yourself a new friend.