With its proximity to Sonoma and Napa counties, it makes perfect sense for San Francisco to have an abundant wine bar scene. But with so many wine-centric places cropping up all the time, it can be difficult to navigate the scene and find the very best. Here, we list those that excel in atmosphere, bottle selection and food, from the Mission to the Marina.
Tucked away on a quieter side of downtown, the cozy and discrete Barrel Room is perfect for a post-workday glass of wine or a happy hour date. This is, in fact, a proper restaurant that happens to have a dazzling wine selection, a cellar and even a speakeasy. To keep things interesting, the expansive wine list focuses on a new region every few months, and the food menu periodically changes to take a similar direction.
Located just off busy Market street, Millay offers the surprisingly workable combination of wine and sake and feels like an elevated neighborhood spot, as it’s both unpretentious and chic. Come for the ultra-flattering pink lighting, stay for the sake flights and the orange wines. The staff is always friendly, and so is the crowd. While the small kitchen produces mainly classic wine bar snacks, once in a while the team hosts interesting food pop-ups, which are worth keeping an eye on.
Had an especially busy week? Craving a trip to Barcelona or Madrid? Head to this fun and busy Mission spot, where Spanish wines, pintxos and good vibes abound. The knowledgeable staff is always happy to recommend the right crisp white or even a vermouth, if you’re into that. And whatever you do, don’t skip the meat plate with its endless snacking options and flavor combinations.
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This beloved Dogpatch wine bar and restaurant is the collaboration of two experienced sommeliers who curate a killer wine list that reads like a world atlas. From “New World Whites” to unique dessert wines, you’ll need multiple visits to tackle everything Ungrafted has to offer. Thankfully, there’s a full menu of globally-inspired delicious fare to balance all the imbibing.
One of the newest wine bars in the city also happens to be one of San Francisco’s best. This Marina natural wine bar is the latest opening by the stellar team behind Bodega SF and Key Club. It’s rather compact and accepts walk-ins only, so prepare to wait. But the easygoing party atmosphere and excellent wine selection are worth it.
With its exposed brick walls, intimate garden and concise food menu, Hayes Valley’s Birba feels like a place you’ve been to numerous times, even if you’re a newcomer. The wine list leans European, and the food menu is particularly good, featuring a dazzling array of tinned fish and creative antipasti in addition to rotating chef residencies and pop-ups.
Wine and records naturally go hand in hand, and this Mission classic knows it well. Frequented by loyal locals and tourists alike, 20 Spot is bigger than the sum of its parts. Not only is the wine list always interesting, but the small plates and pizzas are on point and the sound is exquisite. This bar has managed to crack the code of hospitality by feeling simultaneously exciting and comforting, even on repeat visits.
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