Come On and Get Happy: Best Happy Hours in San Francisco

The term "Happy Hour" is often ascribed to the time on board Navy ships that sailors were allowed to box or wrestle to relieve stress. Since San Francisco has a long and storied Naval history, it's no wonder that the city boasts one of the most impressive selections of Happy Hours of any U.S. City.

None of the establishments encourage boxing, but all definitely work hard to relieve stress. If you feel like a gritty dive bar, Dave's downtown is a San Francisco institution. If you want your dive with a slice of free pizza, try Sutter Station on a Friday night. If you need something fancier and want to get swept up in the craft cocktail movement, try Agave or Alembic Bar

Happy Hours encourage everyone to let their guard down, so it's a perfect time for locals and tourists to mix. If you're a real planner, choose a happy hour by the neighborhood you're most interested in exploring.

For example, if you want to know about the Mission District, which is at the center of all the social and technological upheaval going on in San Francisco, belly up to the bar at Blondie's. If the guy next to you won't talk, there's nothing like getting the real lowdown about a city from a bartender. Remember: bartenders see everything.




Blackbird's motto really does capture the essence of this bar: "Ever Classic, Never Stuffy, Welcome to the Bird." Featuring local wines, artisanal craft beers, and handmade cocktails, The Blackbird is everything you should expect in a bar. The...  Read More



This swanky modern lounge, consistently ranked among the best bars in San Francisco, is ideal for a fun night out with class and style included. Set in a high-ceilinged 1920s-era building, WISH features posh leather couches and glamorous red...  Read More



If you're looking for a hip, young, urban, trendy wine bar night, look no further than Amelie. San Francisco is a young city, and with the recent tech boom, more eager tech workers have moved to the city to find their fortunes. These same urban...  Read More

Pier 23 Cafe


More known for its live music than its food, Pier 23 is THE nightlife spot on the Embarcadero. The Embarcadero has enjoyed a real renovation over the last few years, so visitors could easily plan an entire day around a live show at Pier 23....  Read More

Blondie's Bar


Blondie's is a local favorite for a variety of reasons: jazz and blues music, a hip crowd, and a relaxed atmosphere, courtesy of large windows that open out to the street. Enjoy well-mixed cocktails during happy hour, and make sure to try one of...  Read More

The Tenderloin
Cafe Royale
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


Nestled between the seedy Tenderloin and ritzy Nob Hill neighborhoods, Cafe Royale has a fantastic selection of local brews, such as "Inception" by Triple Voodoo - very hard to find on tap anywhere else in town. The walls are covered with the...  Read More



Besides understanding how to make wine from grapes, InnerFog has shown the ability to make lemon out of lemonade. Instead of bemoaning the recent bursting of a water pipe which caused major damage, the clever managers of InnerFog saw opportunity...  Read More



Given how quickly trends come and go in San Francisco, the fact that the Alembic has been making craft cocktails for several years actually makes the bar one of the forerunners of this latest hip trend. A house favorite is the "Sazerac," a New...  Read More

House of Shields
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


In existence since 1908, House of Shields was one of downtown's favorite "dive" bars until a makeover in 2010. The drink prices are higher but the restoration is impressive. Enjoying a fantastic central location downtown, it's a fine place to...  Read More



Part of locally beloved Lolo restaurant, this mescal inspired, craft cocktail bar has gotten more popular by the minute. Some of the cocktails sound good enough to eat - and with good reason. Bar managers Gallardo and Vasquez are always peeking...  Read More


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom