Best Dive Bars in SF

What makes a great dive bar? You obviously need to have the bare necessities such as a pool table, a jukebox, and regulars to even be considered among the greats. But it’s usually the intangible things that make a dive bar special. San Francisco is home to some of the best dives in the world. Below is a list of some of the best the city has to offer.

1.   Uptown 200 Capp Street There’s absolutely nothing considered ‘uptown’ about this bar, but good people and good times is what makes this place a winner. Sink into one of the plush couches in the back and you’ll feel right at home here.

2. Benders 806 South Van Ness Avenue  Aside from being an awesome dive for bikers, both pedal and moto, its got a grill in the back serving the best vegetarian bar food in the city. Fried pickles, mac n cheese burgers, and seitan buffalo wings are some perennial favorites.

3. Terry’s Lodge 1368 Irving Street Stop by Terry’s on your way home from a day at Ocean Beach. Filled with locals and weirdos, Terry’s is an Inner Sunset staple.

4.  Li PO 916 Grant Avenue This bar looks like it was pulled straight out of the movie Big Trouble in Little China. On Sunday nights you can get your boogie on at the Sweater-funk party in the basement.

5. Mr. Bing’s 201 Columbus Avenue  Another amazing Chinatown dive. No beers on tap means it’s only for serious drinkers. Also, I’d recommend against playing Liar’s Dice with the bartender unless you’re prepared to face the consequences.

6. Phone Booth 1398 South Van Ness Avenue One of the last few remaining bars that let you smoke inside through a little legal loophole. Phone booth has cheap drinks, velvet paintings, and a chandelier made of Barbie dolls...So 3 thumbs up.

7. Toronado 547 Haight Street  Everyone and their mother knows that Toronado is the place to go for the best beer selection in the city. Just be ready to order when you get to the bar, because we’re waiting behind you.

8.  Lucky 13 2140 Market Street A bit kitsch, a bit trashy, and a bit punk. It’s also dog friendly, so take your four legged friends.

*Steven Le is a native of San Francisco, works as an ER doctor, and lives in the Mission District. When not at any of the above bars, you can find him out and about hunting for the city’s best sandwiches.