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Pop In: The Standard Guide to Wine Bars in San Francisco

Written by The Standard StaffResearch by Shelley D. FargoPublished Sep. 07, 2022 • 6:12pm
Map of the Jax vineyards at its wine bar in SoMa on September 1, 2022 in San Francisco | Eloïse Kelsey for The Standard

English

Despite—or maybe due to—the pandemic, San Francisco is abuzz with wine bars. The Standard’s 2022 Guide features more than 60 establishments to meet every palate and budget, from restaurants with substantial wine lists to specialty markets with tasting rooms to classic, sip-and-bite wine bars. 

The city is blessed to be near numerous world-class wine regions, and plenty of its bars specialize in California labels. But if you want to branch out, you can. Many venues have menus with distinct varietals from Italy, France and Spain as well as Mexico, Greece and Austria. 

Natural wine in the Bar Part Time refrigerator in the Mission on Aug. 31, 2022, in San Francisco. | Eloïse Kelsey for The Standard

And though a wine bar is supposed to be all about the wine, atmosphere matters—and so does the neighborhood. A stroll through the Mission or Hayes Valley enables an enthusiast and their entourage to stop for pours and small plates at so many spots that they won’t even think about needing a table for dinner. 

Several wine bars have garnered attention from food critics in the past year, including the bocce-forward SF Wine Society, Hayes Valley’s newest Linden & Laguna, the combo Greek/piano bar Ivory & Vine and the first Mexican wine bar in the U.S., Cantina Los Mayas. The Standard’s list of recommendations aims to expand beyond these newcomers to include a wide variety of affordable, casual and neighborhood options.

Check out the map below to find a new wine bar near you, and read on for some of our favorite purveyors of reds, pinks, oranges and whites.

The Standard’s Guide to SF Wine Bars

20 Spot

3565 20th St., Mission
(415) 624-3140
20spot.com

A bar so welcoming, we’ve written about it twice! Sweet servers and dry wines make for a nice, subdued atmosphere, where the vinyl soundtrack soothes friend groups and first dates alike. The eclectic living room vibe gives way to a heated parklet patio on a quiet(er) Mission District street. (CC)

Wayne Ng and Brandon Eng dine at 20 Spot in San Francisco, on Friday, July 15, 2022 | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

Arcana

2512 Mission St., Mission 
(415) 795-3842
arcanasf.com

Vines and vino make the perfect pairing at Arcana, a plant shop by day and a hip wine bar by night. The beautifully designed Mission Street hangout not only specializes in natural wines and plant-based bites but also hosts live music several nights a week. The spot is ideal for listening to the sophisticated sounds of jazz or world music with a glass of wine in hand or impressing your companion for the night with an unusual date spot. (CJC) 

Bar Part Time

496 14th St., Mission
(669) 333-WINE
barparttime.com


You might not expect natural wine to pair well with the backbeat of Italo-disco or dancehall music, but Bar Part Time has turned this concept into a lifestyle brand, complete with hoodies and tote bags. Over the past few years, natural wine has become the next frontier of artisanal drinking trends—the rarer and tinier the batch, the better. B.P.T. offers a rotating daily menu of organic and biodynamic varieties, mostly imported, with a few California exceptions. The bar marks one year of natural wine and house music with what else but a dance party this Friday and Saturday. (SH)

Barzotto 

1270 Valencia, Mission 
(415) 285-1200
barzotto.com

Cozy Mission Italian spot Barzotto offers a pocket-sized interior that spills into a parklet along Valencia Street where a casual crowd sips wine on draft and nibbles on house-made pastas and freshly baked pizzas. The drink menu includes wine cocktails, aperitivos, and a healthy selection of bubbly. (JZ)

BrewVino

2706 24th St., Mission 
(415) 834-5363
brewvinosf.com

Come with an appetite to BrewVino, a bottleshop selling wines and craft beer in the front and a laid-back restaurant with a spacious outdoor patio in the back. The patio is perfect for sipping $10 happy hour wines on a lazy afternoon. And if you get hungry, BrewVino offers a plentiful menu of large and small bites, including sandwiches, burgers, salads and thin crust pizzas.  (CJC) 

Buddy

3115 22nd St., Mission
buddythebar.com

If you’re looking for a date-night destination, this is it. Buddy is the closest thing to a Parisian wine bar you’ll get in the city: it’s laid-back and relaxed but obviously cool. Both the food and wine menus are incredibly well-curated and delicious. Featured are natural wines served by a very knowledgable staff with a particular emphasis on winemakers with diverse backgrounds. Pair your sips with the anchovy-pepper-olive La Gilda dip, the roasted trumpet ‘shrooms and the perfectly simple brownie. (MJT)

Patrons share a drink with the bartenders at Buddy in the Mission on August 31, 2022, in San Francisco | Eloïse Kelsey for The Standard

Etcetera

795 Valencia St., Mission
etceterawinebar.com

Located in the heart of hustle-and-bustle Valencia, Etcetera is the perfect spot to start and end an evening in the Mission. The live music outside every Monday night is a big draw for locals. (CC) 

DECANTsf

1168 Folsom St., SoMa
(415) 913-7256
decantsf.com 

Whether you take your wine seriously or just for fun, DECANTsf offers an array of options for imbibing. This women-owned and sommelier-driven bottleshop not only doubles as a classy wine bar serving up an array of cheeses, charcuterie, shellfish, sardines and caviar, but also holds educational seminars with guest sommeliers such as “Exploring the Wine of the Alps,” special wine release parties, pop-up collaborations and wine-centered socials. On Saturday, Sept. 24, DECANTsf hosts Somebody’s Sister, a monthly get-together for lesbian, non-binary, trans and queer wine enthusiasts that roves around the Bay Area. DECANTsf also has its own monthly or quarterly wine club subscription membership program specializing in sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines as well as offers customized wine consulting services for businesses, one-off dinner parties and events. With education and curation at its core, you may just find a few ways to drink “smarter” at DECANTsf in its sophisticated atmosphere. (CJC)

El Chato 

2301 Bryant St., Mission
elchatosf.com 

The word “el chato” in Spanish—which means a half-portion as well as a colloquial term for “buddy”—perfectly embodies this new wine bar in the Mission occupying the former Café Murano space. The mostly Spanish wine list includes a healthy dose of vermouths, some of which are served on tap. Drinks come in colorful faceted glasses, and there’s small bites like Spanish tortillas, anchovies and even a “Ukrainian salad” on the menu, too. This is a fun, neighborhood spot to unwind: wide windows open to the street, plastic legs of ham are repurposed as light fixtures and the prices are beyond reasonable. (JZ)

Fig & Thistle

429 Gough St., Hayes Valley
(415) 551-9688
figandthistlesf.com

Only in San Francisco could you sip a luscious Greek limniona, a cortese from Piemonte, Italy or a skin-contact riesling while snacking on artisan pizza and then end the evening at the adjacent dispensary. Fig & Thistle makes it all happen at the corner of Gough and Ivy. (MJT)

Fool’s Errand

639A Divisadero St., NoPa
foolserrandsf.com

With a catchphrase like “Come for the beer, stay for the riesling,” Fool’s Errand has to be a good time. This dimly-lit wine bar sits in a prime location on the main NoPa corridor. The bar sources a wide variety of wines, sparkling wines, beers, sours and ciders from across the world, in addition to a menu of charcuterie boards and other vittles. Fool’s Errand gets pretty packed in the evenings, but staff members are friendly and willing to help you navigate their selections. With a lively atmosphere and versatile menu, it’s the perfect place for a first date, a happy hour meet-up, or a pre-game for the many other bars and clubs lined along Divis. (LL)

Gratta Wines 

2022 Lane St., Bayview-Hunters Point
(415) 872-9791
grattawines.com

A look at the trajectory of Gratta Wines’ market and wine bar might give you the impression that you, too, could birth a wine label from your Bayview garage and end up harvesting old vine grapes in the Dry Creek Valley on one of the hottest Labor Day weekends in Sonoma history. But Barbara Gratta’s rise to becoming an award-winning vintner is no small feat given she lacked, well, a vineyard. Now her winery is a staple of  Bayview’s small business landscape. She pivoted during the pandemic to open an Italian market with artisan and local products. Stop into her bar at 3rd and Lane on a Friday or Saturday evening for a sip of her “Garage Blend,” a nod to her origins in a decidedly un-snooty atmosphere. (MM)

InoVino

108B Carl St., Cole Valley
(415) 681-3770
inovinosanfrancisco.com

InoVino feels like you’re having a glass of wine at a friend’s house in Italy: always comfortable and always delicious. The staff pours Italian wines in a relaxed yet knowledgeable way. The Cole Salad with goat ricotta salata atop red kale is a simple pleasure, and the octopus never disappoints. The pastas are better than the pizzas at this osteria, but you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu. (MJT)

See Also

JAX

326 Brannan St., SoMa
(415) 446-9505
jaxvinyards.com

JAX, a family-owned “tasting room” serving only its own label wines does a magical thing; it turns SoMa into Napa. The staff gets excited talking about the locally-sourced grapes while serving locally-sourced cheese plates. But if you’re looking for more than a charcuterie board, take advantage of their partnership with the elevated Indian cuisine restaurant Rooh for an unforgettable, if unusual, pairing. Once frequented by the tech happy hour crowd, JAX now the go-to spot for neighbors and those in the know. The tasting room’s indoor-outdoor space is decorated with lights, olive trees and fire pits, making it a truly hidden oasis. (CC)

Patrons enjoy wine and food around a fire pit at Jax in SoMa on September 1, 2022, in San Francisco | Eloïse Kelsey for The Standard

Millay 

691 14th St., Castro
(256) 651-9903
millaysf.com 

The sake-forward menu at Millay—you can get over 60 varieties by the glass—is an intentional choice by owner Angel Davis, who wants to introduce the drinking public to the range and complexity of Japanese rice wine. For the intimidated, there’s a solid selection of wines by the glass. And for the non-drinkers, there’s a menu of rare Japanese teas. With its blonde wood bar, hot pink neon and sidewalk tables, Millay is a bright and cheerful spot for the after-work crowd. (JZ)

Press Club

20 Yerba Buena Lane, Downtown
(415) 744-5000
pressclubsf.com

This cavernous underground bar is a spot to see and be seen. Occupying most of the lower floor of SF’s swanky Four Seasons Hotel, this impeccably-designed, wood-paneled wine bar feels massive and somehow cozy at the same time. An impressively large selection of bottles and wines by the glass means you’ll use up a fair amount of mental energy deciding what to drink. But not to worry—they have a selection of small bites and cheese pairings to help you keep your energy up. Break out your jackets and heels for this bar.Although you’ll see a few tech bros in fleece vests, it’s best enjoyed in the trappings of elegance. (MN)

Scopo Divino

2800 California St., Lower Pac Heights
scopodivino.com

Though Scopo Divino is located along bustling California Street, its modest and unassuming style makes it an easy place to grab a happy hour glass and cheese and charcuterie plate. With not too many similar establishments nearby, Scopo Divinois a neighborhood favorite given its location at the corner of Divis and offerings of live music, a wine club and a full dinner menu.  (LL)

Ungrafted

2419 3rd St., Dogpatch
(415) 814-2129
ungraftedsf.com 

With its painted white brick walls, copper-top bar, and Edison bulb pendants, Ungrafted offers a cozy hangout along the busy 3rd Street corridor to enjoy wine by the glass from its classics-focused menu. Owned by two master sommeliers, it’s also a place to learn: the bar hosts blind tastings every Thursday and wine classes twice a month, with a bottleshop to boot. But you shouldn’t come only to drink. Chef David Aviles joined the team with two Michelin stars in his pocket—so don’t miss the za’atar pull-apart bread and everything-spiced fries, perfect to go with your glass of rose. (JZ)

Vic’s Wine House 

1870 Fillmore St., Lower Pacific Heights
(619) 381-2576
vicswinehouse.com

Amy Winehouse lovers, unite! This Fillmore Street destination and tribute bar to the late legendary jazz singer is a blast from the past with a fangirl edge, and low lights that fade almost back to black. The Argentinian empanadas and Californian wines pair perfectly with the various statues and renderings of Winehouse. Don’t miss the upcoming tribute show on Sept. 16, performed by the owner, Vic, herself. But if you can’t make it that night, don’t despair. Your tears will dry on their own because live music here is a constant. (CC)

VinoRosso

629 Cortland Ave., Bernal Heights
(415) 647-1268
vinorossosf.com

This charming and intimate corner wine bar tucked up in Bernal Heights specializes in wines and bites from Italy. You’ll find wines from Sicily, Tuscany and the Veneto regions of Italy on the menu. But whatever you do, don’t miss out on the “homemade bread” with a sampling of cheeses. The bread tastes like grandma made it with a soft, toothy center and crisp outer edges. (CJC)


Contributors: Christina J. Campodominico, Camille Cohen, Maria De La O, Annie Gaus, Sarah Holtz, Liz Lindqwister, Meaghan Mitchell, Michaela Neville, Maryann Jones Thompson, Jiyun Tsai and Julie Zigoris

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The Standard Staff can be reached at [email protected]


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