Best Bars In North Beach San Francisco

Known as the birthplace of the beat movement, North Beach has traditionally been a playground for the city’s community of bohemian artists. This San Francisco community’s colorful past is best exemplified by the quirky local bar scene.

Straddling Chinatown and Little Italy, North Beach is a neighborhood with a rich history. North Beach is a neighborhood rich in history, steeped in a cosmopolitan yet artistic atmosphere, and Beat Generation has certainly left their mark on this hill.
Once a hub for the city’s dancehall culture and counterculture dive bars, it’s evolved into a mix of cool, multicultural nostalgia and modern avant-garde. The traditional Victorian main street is lined with small restaurants, and after dark all manner of live music bars and nightlife can be found here. Here are eight of the most iconic bars in North Beach.
Vesuvio Café
The Vesuvio Café is an iconic building on North Beach and is even officially registered as a historic site. The two-story bar, founded in 1948, overlooks the Jack Kerouac Alley on the street that separates it from the infamous City Lights bookstore, where Vesuvio made his name during the “Beat Generation,” when local poets and famous artists frequented the place, having just finished working at the controversial bookstore next door. At one point, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg, and later Bob Dylan were all regulars here. Set in a classic Victorian building, the bar’s eclectic décor is eye-catching; stained glass lampshades, vintage posters and various artwork seem to cover every corner. Aside from the addition of a few new cocktails and craft beers, not much has changed here in 70 years.
255 Columbus Avenue.

Comstock caravan
Comstock Saloon is a classic Prohibition-era speakeasy vibe, like the kind of place you think of when you mention Gatsby. The warm wood paneling, vintage wallpaper and old-fashioned absinthe fountains really set off the vibe of the place. The waiters and bartenders are still fully dressed: aprons and all, though they are as talented at making classic drinks as they are at making modern twists on the old favorites. The food here is upscale pub fare, featuring hearty classics and local ingredients.
155 Columbus Ave.
15 Romolo
Set away from the bustle of Broadway Street and nestled in a narrow alley, 15 Romolo’s candlelit setting is a San Francisco classic. Craft cocktails are the name of the game here, with professional bartenders incorporating spirits from around the world into unique recipes. Here you can find mezcal, Pimm’s Cup and the exciting Negronis Variations. The kitchen here focuses on snacks, barbecue platters and sharing of small plates, while also offering a modern take on formal meals and classic pub dishes.
15 Romolo Pl.
Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Café
Just across the street from the Vesuvio Café is another famous local bar with a colorful past. In business since 1861, Specs’ was a bar, social club, lesbian bar and even a storage room that became the bar/museum it is today. In this dimly lit tavern, almost every artifact imaginable can be found on the walls, from hairy crabs to political memorabilia and even mummy boxes like the founder’s can be found at Specs’ This bar is also said to be the birthplace of the local blues and soul movement. The drinks are casual and simple, classic cocktails and domestic beers can be found on draft, and the food at the bar is in the form of cheese, with plenty of Saltines and salsa. It’s been around as long as the bar, so don’t knock it until you try it.
12 Adler Place

Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House
Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House is an institution in North Beach. While this notion of Irish-Indian fusion was certainly unexpected, it worked well in Kennedy’s bar. Enter from the street and you’ll find yourself in a dark, secluded bar with an impressive selection of craft beers. At any given point in time, there are no less than a dozen beers, and dozens of international beers in bottles. Thanks to its late-night hours, the wide sun terrace in the back makes Kennedy’s Bar the iconic building it is today. On a warm day, enjoy a pint and a full-service Indian restaurant serving all the classics, from biryanis to homemade curries and samosas.
1040 Columbus Avenue.
Savoy Tivoli
Savoy Tivoli is a local tavern converted from a former boarding house that was built in 1907. Externally, the bright red and yellow facades give this semi-Victorian, semi-pagoda style building a sense of architectural unity. As for the interior, little seems to have changed since it opened, with the original wooden bar still in use and the corners filled with billiards and foosball tables. Go there on a weekend night to listen to live music and see the Savoy bar filled with regulars of all ages, sipping on a chilled national pint or a classic stout.
1434 Grant Ave.

Known as the oldest tavern in the city, it has been in continuous operation since 1861. The tavern was opened by a French immigrant who bought the parcel of land at the border of the Barbary Coast neighborhood, which has historically been known for its raucous ballrooms and late-night entertainment. In the 1960s and 1970s, the pubs in this area gained fame for having live music every night. Today, Saloon is primarily a blues bar, and it’s still frequented by North Beachers looking for live music, cold beer and nostalgia.
1232 Grant Avenue.
Church Keys.
The Church Key may be the bar for North Beach craft beer lovers. There’s a rotation of bottled and straight beers from some of the world’s finest microbreweries, and a wide variety of beers that will likely impress even the most discerning craft beer enthusiast. Mediterranean pale ales, Icelandic ales, Belgian Trippels, and even some small local California brands are just a sampling of what Church Key Brewpub has to offer. Dim lighting, soft music and a cozy brick interior, along with an upstairs lounge area, set the laid-back feel of the place apart from some of Grant Ave.’s noisy neighbors.
1402 Grant Ave.

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