At Modern Luxury, connection and community define who we are. We use cookies to improve the Modern Luxury experience - to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also may share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. We take your privacy seriously and want you to be aware that we have recently made changes to our Privacy Policy, which can be found here.


Best of the Bay 2013: Game-Changer Bars

Carolyn Alburger | July 3, 2013 | Story Best of the Bay

Low Key on Lower Polk: Avoid the table-dancing types at Vertigo and duck into Hi-Lo Club, where you can get a well-balanced cocktail without a side of falling over drunk. The fact that you can have a conversation without shouting—from a replica cable car booth, no less—seals the deal. 1423 Polk St. (near Pine St.)

Divisadero for Grown-Ups: Don’t get us wrong: Club Waziema, Mini Bar, and Lion Pub are all crucial NoPa gathering spots—for those who were toddlers in the Clinton years. But now, there’s a place for people who drink their grapes in the proper glassware. Wine Kitchen matches mourvèdre and rosĂ© to a cheese plate—dodging menu of sweetbreads, grilled scallops, and the like—so you can skip the subpar stemware and soggy nachos just down the street. 507 Divisadero St. (near Hayes St.), 415-525-3485

Next-Generation Noe Valley: In addition to its abundance of greasy dives, creaky taverns, and dim sports bars—all with their devoted denizens—Noe Valley now has a hangout for neighborhood newbies. Caskhouse’s tightly edited craft beer selection spans the West Coast, rotating through hard-to-find brews like Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA and Sonoma Springs’ Lil’ Chief Pale Ale (sorry, PBR lovers—stick to the Mission). Its reclaimed black walnut bar is surrounded nightly by well-heeled startup pros downing homemade pretzel bites. Attention, Noe techies: This is your Cheers. 3853 24th St. (at Vicksburg St.), 415-834-5005

South Beach Sports Hater: Eschewing the foam fingers and Bud-heavy pitchers that define most bars bordering AT&T Park, the Alchemist Bar and Lounge dares to blast vintage horror flicks on the wall in lieu of a sports-blaring flat-screen TV. Despite the gothic vibe, though, owner Kinson Lau wants his bar to feel cozy—hence, the pseudo-Victorian divans and the non-snooty bartenders. Go before 8 p.m. on a weeknight for $5 sparkling cava or $1 off beers, then head straight for a game of shuffleboard—that’s just about as sporty as it’s going to get in here. 679 3rd St. (near Townsend St.), 415-746-9968

Read more Best of the Bay
Best of the Bay 2013: Bayview Fix-ups
Best of the Bay 2013: Brunch Without Borders
Best of the Bay 2013: Game-Changer Bars
Best of the Bay 2013: New Subspecies
Best of the Bay 2013: Upgraded Napa Agenda
Best of the Bay 2013: Culture
Best of the Bay 2013: Food
Best of the Bay 2013: Recreation
Best of the Bay 2013: Socializing
Best of the Bay 2013: Style

Originally published in the July 2013 issue of San Francisco.

Have feedback? Email us at
Email Carolyn Albuger at
Follow us on Twitter
Follow Carolyn Alburger


Photography by: