Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Read Text Only: Pride Issue


The one complaint that I am most tired of hearing as a bartender is the claim that “there is nowhere to eat out late in San Francisco.”  I know this statement is truer here than in other cities, but I enjoy that we are unlike New York.  In New York, for me, there is entirely too much going on at 3 am. 
There are several places to get a bite past midnight in San Francisco.  Let me say that this list is in no way complete; it is based on circumstances and habit. In order to make my recommendations relevant, I will try and go by mildly interesting categories.  Best meal at the bar: Brazen Head. This one is real easy. There’s no sign and in the Marina but still they pack them in. I love their burgers, medium-rare with bleu and grilled onion on an eggy bun with mashed potatoes—no fries here. Industry types after work, a few burned up drunks, and local lonely dudes round out the bar scene. Jimmy and Mike man the bar and are probably the two best bartenders in town for my money. Cash only, food until 1 AM every night. Best I am definitely About to Get Laid Spot: Oola. No culinary genius here, but a sleek SoMa location and nice low lighting. They have some killer ribs and a good wine list. If you can handle the staff, which is mostly aging ravers and Euro Jamiroquai fans, it’s a good spot to hit on the way back to your loft with whomever you hopefully met earlier in the evening. Best Thai: Osha. The one I’m talking about here is on Geary and Leavenworth, though they seem to have new and less awesome locations popping up all the time. They’re open till about 3 AM on the weekends and host some great spicy stuff with seriously fast service. The location offers great people watching in the Tenderloin, from strutting trannies to stumbling Marina girls spilling out of the Ambassador across the street. Best Place to Take Your Parents So it Looks Like You Know What You’re Doing: Zuni. You can explain to your out-of-town folks how this place has been here forever and is run by Judy Rodgers; hopefully answering their legitimate questions regarding a lack of barstools. Come after 10 PM for their “burger” and ruin a waiter’s day by ordering the AMAZING chicken dish just before midnight. Very San Francisco. For the Truly Desperate: Bagdad Café.  This place sucks but it’s open all night.  It is also easy to survey the scene from outside before you commit to sharing a table with a psychopath or a group of meatheads. They make a decent Cobb Salad and have a lot of desserts. For a little more character head up the block to Orphan Andy’s for the gayest grilled cheese ever and sit in a comfy booth! For Tourists: Tourists seem most willing to venture to the Wharf. What many of us forget is that there is an In-N-Out in the Wharf. I can see you climbing up on your high horse from here, but this shit is so tasty, and really cheap. Drink yourself sick on Dr. Pepper, open till 1 AM. Polk St: Head on over to Grubstake and drown your sorrows with an average cheese steak. Open real late and not the worst veggie burger I’ve ever had. There are also usually some cute Punk Rocker chicks there from the Hemlock. Something for everybody. Burrito: El Farolito on Mission and 24th St. This one is easy, open real late and one of the better Burritos. Better than average Al Pastor and fresh avocado in every burrito. It’s right by BART for an easy East Bay getaway if you don’t mind leaving early, and is also close to Walgreen’s and amid the 24th Street squalor if you need to grab something to work up an appetite. Stay and eat at one of the Cafeteria tables for a little more adventure. Sushi: Ryoko. I learned about this place while working at a fancy joint around the corner. It’s subterranean and often features loud DJs. This place has a Beetlejuice vibe that I like, and they serve up decent sushi. Open till about 1 AM. The Obvious: Nopa. The food is okay—drinks are likely better, with great coffee and competent service. The Generation X wait staff reminds you of the girl you probably should be dating or maybe already did. This place seems to serve as the nerve center for San Francisco’s industry scene, but no one really seems to know why. Good location, impossible parking, had more street cred’ before Beretta opened. Beretta is one of those places with clever bartenders making cocktails designed to alienate. Industry types sidle up to the bar for Fernet and likable food, late. Beer Weirdoes: Monk’s Kettle. This place is always packed and has a crazy-long beer list. I can’t say a bad thing about it, other than it’s a bit claustrophobic. If you have a moustache and feel better about yourself for drinking expensive Belgian beer, this place is for you, hands down.