Whether you’re a native San Franciscan or new to the city, it can be overwhelming to navigate the cornucopia of restaurants, bars and experiences this city has to offer. So, we did the work for you. These seven perfect nights on the town—complete with dinner, drinks and a show—will show you the best of what San Francisco has to offer after dark.
Starbelly serves seasonal California comfort food with a fine selection of gourmet pizzas—we like the housemade chorizo with sunny eggs and cilantro. Enjoy your meal in their bright, airy dining room or outside on the sunny back patio.
Show: Castro Theater
The Castro Theater needs no introduction. The most iconic venue in the city offers an ever-changing selection of old Hollywood films, off-beat gems and fun events like Disney movie sing-alongs. Get there early to enjoy the live organ music that famously kicks off every show.
Dark and stylish but with none of the pretentious attitude (what other cocktail lounge has a pool table and photo booth in the back?), Blackbird is the perfect place for a lively drink or two after a show at the Castro. Though Blackbird can get rather crowded on weekend nights, their rotating list of artisan cocktails are worth a wait at the bar.
Dinner: Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar and Izakaya
Vegan sushi may sound suspicious, but there’s a reason this Japanese restaurant constantly comes up in conversations about the city’s best restaurants and appears in this year’s Michelin Guide. Meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike go crazy for Shizen’s creative vegetable-based concoctions like the Shizen shitake—mushrooms stuffed with shredded tofu and tapioca.
Show: The Roxie
The Roxie Theater never fails to delight with a selection of independent films and documentaries. Check out some of the best from local and foreign directors at this bare bones San Francisco landmark.
Drinks: The Hideout at Dalva
Next door to the Roxie sits Dalva, a quality watering hole. Continue past the long bar to find The Hideout, a small hidden lounge serving artisan cocktails. Try quenching your thirst with a gin and celery tonic or the Dirty Pigeon, made with mezcal and fresh citrus.
Dinner: Alta CA
At this lofty space accented by walls of liquor you’ll find a creative menu of California-inspired cuisine. Small plates include perogies in flavors like English pea or pumpkin, deviled eggs and fondue. Don’t forget to try one of their spectacular sundaes for dessert!
Show: American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)
A.C.T. is a legendary San Francisco institution. At the recently renovated Strand Theater, a formerly derelict, hundred-year-old performance space, you’ll find a diverse range of plays and cabaret such as the upcoming comedy-pop stylings of The Skivvies.
Drinks: Fermentation Lab
This hip beer hall is a welcome addition to the Civic Center neighborhood. The gastropub offers a wide selection of California craft beers on tap and a variety of pickled snacks excellent for a late-night bite.
LOWER PAC HEIGHTS + NOB HILL
This long-time staple of the San Francisco food scene immerses you in a selection of Italian flavors with their prix fixe and tasting menus. Awarded two Michelin stars in 2017, Acquarello’s dark, intimate dining room is ideal for a romantic night out.
Show: Audium Theater of Sound
The Audium Theater of Sound is the only one of its kind in the world. Throughout a two-hour performance, theater-goers are left in darkness to be bathed in “sound sculptures” from the 176 speakers surrounding the circular 49-seat theater. Experience the speed and movement of sound in ways you’ve never imagined at this one-of-a-kind music venue.
Drinks: Miller’s Rest
This chic but unfussy bar and restaurant is quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite. Inspired by the owner’s childhood lake home, unwind from your evening with their wide selection of cocktails, beer and wine.
Dinner: The House
North Beach is synonymous with Italian cuisine but, take a step outside the box, and you’ll find this tiny neighborhood favorite. Their Asian fusion cuisine, boasting dishes like lobster tempura with black truffle aioli and braised pork shoulder with miso broth, will have you feeling right at home.
Show: Beach Blanket Babylon
Over 16,000 performances later, Beach Blanket Babylon is the city’s most beloved musical revue. The show, which puts a pop-culture spin on Snow White’s round-the-world search for Prince Charming, is a great way to laugh away the evening.
Bar: Tony Nik’s Cafe
Entering this classic North Beach cocktail lounge feels like stepping back in time—little has changed here since it was remodeled in 1949 to include wooden wall tiles and the bar’s canopy. This is the kind of place whose Mid-Century modern decor virtually screams for martinis and Manhattans.
Dinner: State Bird Provisions
State Bird Provisions began as a recipe for preparing quail; Today it’s one of San Francisco’s most popular restaurants. The frequently changing menu offers fresh, seasonal foods in creative combinations like Spanish octopus with butter beans and chili vinaigrette. Be sure to make your reservations early—State Bird fills up fast!
Established in 1994, this small theater company seeks to change established conceptions of theater. Their performances—both Shakespeare works and other classics like this season’s Cinderella—feature actors of color in roles that are rarely open to them.
Maven, a gastropub and lounge in one, offers communal seating in a swanky, green-walled setting. Get comfortable on couches upstairs while you enjoy one of their fruit-kissed cocktails and a late night snack like their tasty Chinatown duck sliders.
At this German home of overindulgence, gorge on Bavarian-centric dishes like braised beef rolls with spatzle and red cabbage and a variety of imported German beers. The cheerful, somewhat raucous dining room is sure to put any diner in a good mood—especially with a boot of ale at your side.
Show: San Francisco Symphony
Nothing says class like a night at the symphony and San Francisco has one of America’s best. Fall in love with influential composers or enjoy a classic film like West Side Story scored live by the ensemble and famed conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.
Drinks: Brass Tacks
A cozy bar with a slightly gothic, throwback vibe, Brass Tacks has single handedly elevated the bar scene in Hayes Valley. Enjoy a beer, wine or carefully crafted artisan drinks in this dimly lit neighborhood spot.