10 Best Hidden Bars in San Francisco

SRO at Odd Job

My latest at Time Out on 10 top “speakeasy” or rather, hidden, bars. Article here.

Benjamin Cooper’s Hummingbirds cocktail

”Speakeasy” is a tired bar term for San Franciscans. Following NYC players like Angel’s Share and Milk & Honey, SF was the earliest in the country to jumpstart the speakeasy trend when Bourbon and Branch opened in 2006. Though the overplayed trend has taken over the world since, a hidden bar still appeals with its sense of romance and retreat. Here are 10 of the best bars it might take a little extra work to find — but it’s worth it.

Benjamin Cooper, Union Square

The Hideout at Dalva, The Mission

Linden Room, Hayes Valley

Cold Drinks at China Live, Chinatown

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15 Romolo — 5 stars

Wilson & Wilson, Tenderloin
Yes, there are multiple hidden bars and spaces (Russells Room, Ipswitch) within Bourbon & Branch but Wilson & Wilson has long been the most accessible of their bars-within-a-bar. Like B&B, it’s reservation only, one narrow long room with “Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency” marked on the window outside. Ever changing cocktail menus are exquisite, sometimes named after film noir or other classic films, with signature drinks like Charlie Chan (black tea-infused Karlsson’s vodka, coconut marmalade, black pepper, clove, lemon, ginger) among the most creative vodka drinks anywhere.

The Den at Wes Burger ‘N’ More, The Mission

Remedie at Devil’s Acre, North Beach
Devil’s Acre is a spacious, seductive pre-Prohibition-style bar. Soothing with lamps and live jazz, it calls on SF’s Barbary Coast days with classic and house cocktails and a non-alcoholic menu of elixirs and cure-all shots, like a digestive remedy of fennel seed, angelica and dandelion root, orange peel and ginger. But if you want to hide away from crowds passing by on Columbus Ave. outside, Remedie is your Friday and Saturday night bar-within-a-bar basement escape (available for private events the rest of the week). A vintage cocktail shaker “machine” adds to the old timey authenticity.

Marianne’s, Union Square

15 Romolo’s Ariel & Sebastian

Linden Room’s Forbidden Fruit cocktail (vodka, prickly pear, genepy, lime)