The Top New Bay Area Bars of 2019

As with the past decade plus, here are my top 5 new Bay Area bar openings of 2019. My top 12 restaurant openings are here.

My top 12 bars of 2017 here and prior years here.

Click on each bar’s name for links to my initial reviews/articles and greater details on each place:

California Gold Bar
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California Gold Bar

1. California Gold, San Rafael (Marin)
Just open in December 2019, California Gold is a treasure from Isaac and Rhia Shumway. It’s also (finally) a destination-worthy bar in Marin County. My review here.

2. Overproof at ABV
Open late October 2019, Overproof at ABV is a new drink and dining gem in SF, blessedly intimate (my review here). 

3. Tropical Thunder at Don Pisto’s Marina
Though temporarily closed (we hope it’s returning soon!), Tropical Thunder, a regular tiki-tequila-mezcal pop-up bar since April in Don Pisto’s Marina was one of 2019’s best new bars, thanks to bar vets Ken Luciano and Elizabeth Montana (Ken was former partner at Forgery and Wildhawk). Many of us avoid the Marina like the plague, but they gave us a reason to head there. Details here and here

4. Zombie Village, Tenderloin
Maybe we didn’t need another tiki bar, but longtime Future Bars group does it right, as Pagan Idol proves. I will miss Tradition — and the short-term Mister Lew’s in the same space. But Zombie Village (which opened December 2018, too late to be included in my best-of 2018) underwent full tiki transformation. The space transports to tropical isles with its starry ceiling and tiki cocktails. Depending on who you catch behind the bar, the service can be expert but relaxed.

5. Nommo, SoMa
Thad Vogler’s other 2019 newcomer, rum-Caribbean centric, Obispo, has the more soothing atmosphere. But Nommo (open February 2019) has the friendlier service and chill cross-section of quality wines and beers alongside highballs made with a Suntory Toki highball machine from Japan. The space is cavernous and a bit chilly, but there is always a seat at the bar and plenty of space for groups. Both bars offer simple but well-made classic cocktails. 

Over Proof at ABV