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Beers for cheers: best bars for sports in San Francisco



Cheers, groans, beer, and plenty of big-screen TVs - they're the major components of any popular sports bar, and we bring you the top entries in San Francisco. Meet your buddies for wings, nachos, and a full slate of football, basketball, boxing, baseball, hockey, and NASCAR. And San Francisco takes its food as seriously as it does its sports, so don't be surprised if those buffalo wings come with a side of organic Napa Valley horseradish sauce.

Even if you happen to come alone, you can count on finding a crowd to hang with, as long as you're wearing the right colors and logos! 10Best readers give a big, overall thumbs-up to Lefty O'Doul's and they applaud Bus Stop for its tasty bar food - a must when you're following a big game.

And, although San Franciscans are fiercely loyal to their sports teams (and ready at the drop of a yellow flag to give Raiders and A's fans from across the bay a good ribbing), the town recognizes that swapping sports stories is a great way to turn strangers into friendly drinking buddies. Don't be shy about your own allegiances, either; San Francisco is a tourist town, so locals are used to getting an earful from out-of-towners about their own favorite teams.

The best sports bars in San Francisco? Game on!


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One of the area's most established saloons, Union Square Sports Bar promises 27 TVs, nine satellites, and a range of draft and bottled beers. It also boasts a wealth of sports memorabilia that confirms its long existence. If you tire of televised games, try your hand at pool, pinball, or video games. There's also a great jukebox if you crave some tunes. Conveniently located near area shopping, restaurants and hotels of Union Square, which means that those in the party who don't want to belly up to a bar and watch three-hour football games have plenty of other options nearby.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Union Square Sports Bar is a great option for those who need a beer and a ballgame near Union Square.

Tom's expert tip: Classic sports bar: big, loud and crowded. That means if you'd rather be sitting and have some elbow room, this often standing room only space might not be for you.

Read more about Union Square Sports Bar →


Greens Sports Bar


Tucked away on Polk Street and adorned with ball caps and other memorabilia, this small sports bar is a favorite with locals. It's a great place any time, but at happy hour (Monday through Friday, from 4 pm till 7 pm), you can relax with the after-work crowd and take advantage of reduced drink prices. Microbrews and draft beers are popular, and a popular sandwich menu is offered. (Patrons are also invited to have take-out delivered to their tables from local eateries, and Greens conveniently keeps menus on-hand.) Lots of sports competition can be caught on 25 TVs and two large-screen models. Satellite and high-definition reception ensure that the action is crystal-clear.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: This is a nice counter to the other sports bar in the area, the Bus Stop.

Tom's expert tip: If you can't belly up to the bar without a beer in one hand and a sandwich in the other, then head to Greens. Try the Double Trouble Sandwich with pepper turkey, bacon, and avocado/cream cheese spread.

Read more about Greens Sports Bar →


Bus Stop


Conducive to nights of rowdy cheering and rooting for your favorite team, Bus Stop is a true sports lover's haven. It's been around for a century, and its longevity can certainly be attributed, in part, to dynamic crowds and ever-present drinks. Stake out a table near the octagonal windows upfront, or join a friendly game at one of the pool tables. Great, affordable cocktails are even better amid the sports memorabilia. During happy hour, drink prices are even further reduced. Located in the vibrant, up-and-coming Cow Hollow neighborhood, the location also offers shopping, a diversity of restaurants and some engaging nightlife options.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: With only a few sports bars in this Cow Hollow area, it's good to keep Bus Stop in mind.

Tom's expert tip: They have a different drink special every day of the week - try San Francisco's own Anchor Steam beer for just $5 on Tuesdays!

Read more about Bus Stop →


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Nominally an Irish pub, this casual establishment serves a number of entertainment needs. DJs spin music to dance by, live bands play, and pool, darts, and video games are there for the masses to enjoy. You'll also find a dozen international brews on tap, and happy hour (weekdays from 4 pm till 7 pm) makes drink prices even more affordable. Even so, sports reign on a variety of TVs, including two big-screens and three HDTV plasma screens. The breadth of programming means you can catch everything from Nascar to horse-racing, along with hurling, Aussie rules rugby, soccer, golf, boxing, and more. Although there's no cover, certain televised sports events may incur charges from $10 to $20. Casual and often rowdy.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Abbey is within walking distance of the ballpark, which is really the sports hub of San Francisco.

Tom's expert tip: If you're more into European than American football, Abbey is the place to go.

Read more about Abbey Tavern →


Local Tap SF


A short walk from AT&T Park, Local Tap SF (formerly Zeke's) just seems right for sports and beer. It's also a fantastic place to catch the game on one of 16 TVs, whether your passion is football, hockey, baseball, basketball, or more. Local Taps's food menu is a riot of pub fare, including great burgers and appetizers. Dartboards, pool tables, bar dice, and cribbage boards add to the fun, especially when televised games drag. Folks are incredibly friendly too, which is always a plus. Smart casual dress. If there's a Giants home game going on, be prepared for a fairly packed bar and service that makes take awhile.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Local Tap is a good sports bar option if you're near the ballpark but want a place that's a little less expensive.

Tom's expert tip: Inventive, above-average menu for a pub, especially the tasty Street Tacos with Carnitas, pineapple cabbage slaw, and tomatillo sauce.

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Given its colorful name, there's little doubt that this place serves up a good time. The Brit-style pub offers heaping helpings of beer, soccer, and other sports, and once in a while, it presents live musical acts. One of the place's biggest draws, though, is the twice-weekly trivia quiz, which pits folks against each other for fun and prizes. Pub food comprises the menu, and additional perks include a great social scene, happy hour deals, and much-loved weekend breakfast, British-style. And with its location on lower Haight Street, after you've enjoyed your game, you'll be in prime position to roll out the door and get the real games of the night started.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: The beer selection is fantastic and the servers really know their stuff.

Tom's expert tip: Mad Dog insists they serve the Best Buffalo Wings in San Francisco, and it's hard to argue against their tasty wings served with carrots, celery, and bleu cheese dressing.

Read more about Mad Dog in the Fog →




Put down your iPhone and pick up a Guinness and try "friending" someone the old fashioned way: buy them a beer. If you decide to do this at Johnny Foley's, the payback will be a night of revelry you won't soon forget. Besides wall to wall people ready to have fun, the bar also offers traditional Irish fare like bangers and mash, as well as live music on most nights. And their TVs always have the biggest games of the night, so it's a great spot for sports fans. Located right off of Union Square in the heart of downtown.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: This is the sports bars of sports bars, really meant for those who want to drink and watch games.

Tom's expert tip: Pair that perfectly poured Guinness with appetizers beyond your regular pub grub like Mussels in Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce with Bacon, Garlic and Parsley.

Read more about Johnny Foley's Irish House →




Yancy's is near the Mucky Duck, another sports bar in the 9th and Irving area, but Yancy's is roomier. When there's not too much fog, the shutters and windows of Yancy's are flung open and allow for great people-watching if the game gets slow. Besides the sports bar requisite of TVs everywhere you turn, Yancy's is also popular with locals, just in case you want to get the nitty-gritty on the San Francisco sports scene straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Lots of options once the game is finished, from hopping on the N-Judah line right outside the door for a trip to Ocean Beach to a casual stroll through Golden Gate Park, just a block away.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: A great choice for those who want to watch a game and those who want to drop someone off to watch the game.

Tom's expert tip: Be sure to explore the shops, restaurants and cafes of 9th and Irving while you're in the area.

Read more about Yancy's Saloon →




Billing itself as "a friendly pub," this neighborhood hangout does indeed have a relaxed, "come as you are" ambiance. It boasts nine large-screen TVs, pool tables, dartboards, a terrific jukebox, sports memorabilia, and a great bar staff. When the game's on, it's especially pleasant, and you'll want to kick back with a draft beer (among the selections: Death & Taxes Dark Beer, Mucky Duck Pale Ale, and Stella Artois) and root alongside other sociable fans. The place also serves a kicking Bloody Mary. The one drawback is that the Duck can be fairly smoky, but if you're cool with that, it's cool with you.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Nearby Golden Gate Park is a nice option for a walk after sitting on a stool and downing beers for several hours.

Tom's expert tip: Mucky Duck doesn't serve food, but the 9th and Irving area of Mucky Duck has some reasonably priced and tasty Asian restaurants.

Read more about Mucky Duck →




Fifteen televisions and great satellite reception ensure that there's always a game or match on the tube at this neighborhood sports bar. Regulars thrill to everything from football to rugby, and brief distraction is afforded by pool tables and dartboards. If you're hungry, the menu consists of basic bar food like hamburgers and wings. Plus, Kezar offers a variety of draft beers to wash everything down. On weekends, a hearty Sunday brunch regularly pulls in patrons. The location can't be beat, either. If you're ready to celebrate your team's victory, you're at the end of Haight Street and can start a slow pub crawl from upper to lower Haight.

Recommended for Sports Bars because: Great location, right at the end of Haight Street and perched on the entrance of Golden Gate Park.

Tom's expert tip: International athletic matches set a backdrop for pub grub (get the "Irish Nachos" -yum!) and draft beer - a top spot for World Cup!

Read more about Kezar Pub →


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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.

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