Welcome to It’s a Date, a series of idea guides to help you navigate your love life in the Bay through thoughtfully planned and curated itineraries field-tested by our staff. If you’re in the mood for smooching, here are a few spots where you can pucker up.
Locking lips with a new beau can be exhilarating and intimidating. But as anyone who’s ever seen a romantic comedy knows, whether you’re on your first kiss or your 150th, the setting makes all the difference.
Here are seven PDA-friendly San Francisco bars.
📍718 14th St.
Even if you arrive in the afternoon, it will be dim inside this “Polynesian noir” tiki bar at the intersection of Market, 14th and Church streets. The Duboce Triangle cocktail spot bills itself as an “adventure bar”—the setting is a mysterious tropical locale where your ill-fated plane has crash-landed à la Lost. The bar actually sits on an airplane fuselage; its stools are repurposed airline seats.
To get cozy with your date, just head to one of the dark booths dripping with jungle foliage or the alcove in the back that’s anchored by a giant skull. Don’t let the macabre theme ruin the mood. Just focus on the soothing rush of rainforest sounds, which provides the perfect animalistic soundtrack for smooching.
📍1725 Haight St.
The Alembic is named after an ancient vessel that was used to distill liquids. Sure enough, here you can put your chemistry to the test. Not only does the bar offer a mixology class where you and your plus-one can learn how to mix cocktails like a pro, but its leather-bench seating lit by flickering candlelight at the rear of the bar also makes a sweet spot for snogging toward the end of a tipsy evening.
Take your sweetheart here for a well-crafted nightcap or a late-night bite—the kitchen is open till 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and last call is just before midnight. Sipping on a Brown Butter Old Fashioned or a Blanc Negroni should lubricate you just enough to lean in if the moment feels right.
📍543 Divisadero St.
This stalwart dive bar of Divisadero Street was once Club Morocco, a Fillmore District jazz and soul club that hosted greats like Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye and James Brown. Even today, its signature red velvet wallpaper and tasty Ethiopian food are reminiscent of a cooler San Francisco.
Tucked off a hallway is a cozy alcove with a table for two that’s just big enough for you and your plus-one to sneak away for a hot minute–or five. If you pass the bathrooms, you’ve missed it. Nab this semi-hidden table if you’re looking for some privacy. Just keep your clothes on—there’s no door.
📍1830 Union St.
If you think a wine bar is too classy for making out, think again. This elegant Union Street vino lounge and restaurant highlighting wines from the Mediterranean, Armenia and Georgia has a luxurious blue velvet couch that’s perfect for snuggling up with your boo over Old World wines, chargrilled trumpet mushrooms in date butter, addictive hummus and pita bread, and crispy octopus. Reserve or snag this catbird seat if you’re a bit of an exhibitionist. The couch is positioned in the bar’s main storefront window overlooking the bustling stretch and is perfect for the demonstrative.
📍 2937 Mission St.
If lounging is more your style, the Mission’s Evil Eye has plenty of leather couches. With its beads and pinball machines, this 1970s-style haunt is purposefully designed to feel like a living room—if Stevie Nicks were the decorator. So go ahead and relive the sexual revolution at this groovy venue.
📍 691 Market St.
This classy and dark newspaper-themed bar in the belly of the historic Hearst Building has plenty of booths for intimate conversation and other activities. The Prohibition-era watering hole also boasts a spacious dance floor and a steady roster of big-band jazz ensembles. The vibe might seem a bit festive for clandestine kissing. On the other hand, the swirl of bodies is an excellent cover. People will be too busy swinging to notice you snogging in a booth.
📍3225 22nd St.
Of course, no such list would be complete without mentioning San Francisco’s beloved Make Out Room. The eclectic neighborhood bar, music venue and “21 and over club” dripping with tinsel not only offers an array of musical and storytelling programming, its wide variety of soundtracks—from indie pop to salsa to ’60s slow jams—and intimate vibe sets the mood for locking lips in one of the sultry establishment’s booths.
Christina Campodonico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org