The Best Wine Bars In San Francisco, 2021
Twelve exemplary places to enjoy a glass of wine in The City by The Bay.
By The Smoking Chair Editors | 2021
A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district. San Francisco is also the headquarters of companies such as Wells Fargo, Twitter, Square, Airbnb, Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Salesforce, Dropbox, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Uber, and Lyft. The city, and the surrounding Bay Area, is a global center of the sciences and arts and is home to a number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the University of San Francisco (USF), San Francisco State University(SFSU), the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the SFJAZZ Center, the San Francisco Symphony and the California Academy of Sciences.
#1: San Francisco Wine Society
408 Merchant St
$$ • Wine Bars
The brick walls, ever-shifting light, crushed oyster-shell bocce court, and amazing wine alongside scrumptious food makes The San Francisco Wine Society a must.
The staff are attentive and the atmosphere provides the perfect energy for recharging your social battery.
— Review by James M.
4342 California St
$$ • Wine Bars
My husband and I tried this place for dinner and we were seriously impressed! We ordered the prosciutto and burrata appetizer and the ingredients were high quality, fresh, and delicious. For dinner, I ordered the beef bolognese and my husband ordered the pasta with prosciutto and vodka sauce. The pastas were cooked perfectly, the sauces had amazing flavor, and the portions were generous. For dessert we split a cannoli which was the perfect end to a fantastic meal. We absolutely loved this place and will definitely be back!
— Review by Rebecca S.
#3: Canela Bistro & Wine Bar
2272 Market St
$$ • Spanish, Tapas Bars, Wine Bars
This place is fire. Yeah sure, there were a few bad reviews but I don’t know what went wrong or if the customers were already unhappy to begin with BUT my experience here was fantastic!
After having such a disastrous sf restaurant week last weekend with another place,I was a little apprehensive but this place made the bad memory disappear! Service was great and food was superb. We loved every single item from the sf week menu. Every item was handled with care and tasted phenomenal. We were all debating on which ones were our favorite but couldn’t because we liked them all!
It is tapas so portion was a little small but over the course of 9-10 items, you will leave full. Full but not stuffed so if you want to be stuffed them order drinks or an additional plate.
We liked everything that was served but the items that stood out most for me were:
Gazpacho – I don’t care for gazpacho too much but this one converted me over! I could eat a big bowl of this!
Empanada de pollo – honestly one of the best empanadas that I’ve had so far.
Jamon croquettas – OMG. Mouthwatering. I could eat 10-20 of them or even more! The bechamel cream was creamy and decadent, leaving you wanting more.
Muscle soup – the broth was really good. I drank my dry!
Churro con chocolate – churros were light and fluffy. I ate all of the chocolate sauce.
The service here was also very good! Staff was friendly, attentive, they know the food very well and makes wonderful recommendations. They were changing our silverware after every tapas item. I was impressed!
— Review by Ngoc P.
Top Dishes: Patatas Bravas, Gambas Al Pimentón, Carrillada De Ternera, Gambas Al Ajillo, Chocolate Olive Oil Almond Cake, Spanish Serrano Ham, Iberico Tres Leches, Ajoarriero Salt Cod Tapenade, Pinchos Morunos of Pork
#4: Fool’s Errand
639A Divisadero St
$$ • Wine Bars, Beer Bar
This is the perfect happy hour spot on a warm SF afternoon/evening.
They have a cute little nook that looks out to the sidewalk- great for people watching. They also have a little parklet outside where you can enjoy your beverages. On a perfect SF night, you will see patrons flowing out of this wine/beer bar and enjoying drinks out on the patio. Very European style. The inside is also nice with beautiful slab wood tables.
The beers are 7-8 dollars and the wine is 10-15, which may be a little pricey but my wine loving friends say they are high-quality wines so probably worth it? We usually opt for the beers though due to price. We noticed they have Happy Hour 2-6 M-F with $5 beers and $7 wines so we’ll definitely be back for that.
I recommend this cute neighborhood wine/beer bar for an upscale/trendy happy hour.
— Review by Hannah H.
#5: Noeteca Wine Bar
1551 Dolores St
$$ • Wine Bars, Cafes, Brazilian
We love Noeteca and have been coming here fairly often over the past year. The owner is so friendly and the food is truly delicious and feels home cooked. We are huge fans of the tuna flatbread – an absolute must. The endive salad is one of our favorite salads in SF too – perfectly crunchy, savory, and a little bit sweet. The wine pours are generous with a strong wine list. The outside seating is perfect for a sunny day or even bundled up in the fog.
— Review by Martha E.
Top Dishes: Croque Josephine, Croque Napoleon, Crab Cakes, Belgian Endive Salad, Caprese Salad, Baked Brie, Quiche Lorraine
#6: Scopo Divino
2800 California St
$$ • Wine Bars, American (New), Breakfast & Brunch
We came here for restaurant week and got to enjoy their 3-course meal. We made a reservation prior coming. It’s across from B Patisserie, and a great place for wine lover with membership options and all that.
The first course was the ricotta gnocchi salad, which came in a pretty decent portion. The gnocchi was fresh and warm. Their rib eye was placed on a bed of duck fat fingerling potatoes, the potatoes was absolutely delicious. They have an option to add on wine pairing and I had their half a glass of “Annabella” Cab, which actually paired pretty well with the rib eye.
And we ended with the Mexican chocolate ice cream topped with brownies and walnut chocolate bark dessert. I think my favorite is chocolate bark.
The service was excellent. The decor inside is very cute, they also have outdoor dining options.
— Review by Brenda T.
Top Dishes: Scopos Deviled Eggs, Khao Soi Soup, Rib Eye Steak
#7: Cultivar San Francisco
2379 Chestnut St
$$ • American (New), Wine Tasting Room, Wine Bars
Loved this place! Perfect for a date night! The back patio is incredible with a fire. We made reservations day of for that night and specifically asked to be outdoors. Still gets chilly but awesome atmosphere.
Service was great and the servers with fast, kind and helpful. We shared a grilled cheese and soup for a snack and it was warm and flavorful. Recommend that.
They have a lot of nice reds and whites that are mid to high price range.
— Review by Allison M.
108B Carl St
$$ • Italian, Wine Bars
This is just the most charming spot, I felt like I was being transported to Europe; the place is so full of chatter, cozy, and intimate. It’s the perfect spot for a date or to catch up with some friends.
I actually just tried the food here – fried squash blossoms and a focaccia pizza with buffalo mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes.
The fried squash blossoms were so delicately fried; the breading was light and delightful, and I actually loved the texture and flavor of the flowers. These were super cheesy and filled with mozzarella, definitely a welcome indulgence.
The focaccia pizza was really delicious; I loved the bread itself, and then the toppings just added the most wonderful bursts of flavor in every bite. The creaminess of the cheese and the sweetness of the tomatoes were delightful.
I would love to come back for their happy hour to try some of the wines + cheese plates, since it is a wine bar after all. The service was excellent, too!
— Review by Pooja K.
Top Dishes: Burrata, Black Truffle Formaggio, Formaggi Pecorino Moliterno Al Tartufo, World Class Charcuterie Plate, Pizzette, Margherita Pizza, Crudos, Tuscan Honey, Octopus
#9: High Treason
443 Clement St
$$ • Wine Bars, American (Traditional)
John and team are top notch sommeliers having world class knowledge! I know that if there is anything you want to learn about wine/ pairings/ and deep knowledge his staff can help you. If you really want a great experience with great wine- head over to High Treason today.
In addition they sell great food to taste along with the wine pairings choose a nice night to get away for a treat and explore some of the best of San Francisco wine and experience!
— Review by Harry L.
Top Dishes: Fried Chicken Sliders, Coconut Panna Cotta, Charcuterie Plate
#10: Swirl on Castro
572 Castro St
$$ • Beer, Wine & Spirits; Wine Bars
I’ve been coming to Swirl since we moved to San Francisco almost 7 years ago. Swirl is a gem and I felt compelled to write a review just to say how fond I am of this well-run business. Swirl has managed to do that rare thing: create a space that is (what appears to be) a successful business and is also an important community space for the Castro. Thanks for all you do!!
— Review by Jason R.
2419 3rd St
$$$ • American (New), Wine Tasting Classes, Wine Bars
Streetfront location south of Oracle Park and Chase Center. Indoor, outdoor and bar seating. Tons of bottles for purchase line the walls. Looks like a drinks only place, but they have amazing food, too! You can get away with casual attire, but I felt like I wanted to dress up a bit given the atmosphere. Above and beyond great customer service – honestly some of the best service I’ve ever experienced!
We came for an engagement celebration. There was a pre fixe menu with four courses all served family style. They were paired with six different beverages. You can tell everything was made with premium ingredients and I loved everything I tried! My favorites were zataar pull apart bread and Creole spiced fried chicken and biscuits. Check this place out!
— Review by Spencer S.
#12: Palm City Wines
4055 Irving St
$$ • Wine Bars, Sandwiches
Where do i begin. This place is fkin GOOD. I’ve been to this place a few times. I even ordered every sandwich before just to try everything (on the same day).
Their sandwiches are pricey but they are legit ARTISANAL. they look beautiful. What a beautiful oval shape.
Anyway, taste-wise, each sandwich has unique veges that you normally could not find at other sandwich joints. The meats are what you would expect though; good.
Ok ok skip that junk. Here’s the real review. They have a seasonal sandwich right now. I asked the nice lady if their new shrimp salad sandwich will be permanent. She said no, only until their seasonal tomatoes run out. I ordered one. Look at that giant monstrosity of BEAUTY. It was the tastiest sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my life. The umami from the potato chips is like some sort of hacking cheat code for a sandwich. I’m stealing that ish. Genius.
You know how everyone goes through that character growth experience when they first think, “meh, tomatoes.” Then they eat a real tomato and think, “hot damn, they DO taste like fruits after all!” Well for you normal vege plebs out there, this place will change your vege life.
BUT WHO CARES ABOUT VEGES REALLY. This shrimp sandwich had tons of SHRIMP in it and it was the messiest sandwich of all time. I can’t emphasize that enough. Do not order this sandwich if you are going on a picnic. It won’t work out. Take it home and eat it in the bathtub so you can shower right after; it’s crazy messy.
DELICIOUS. There’s so much more to say but I dunno. I have food coma but felt they deserved a review immediately. My gf kept trying to steal the shrimp that fell out of my sandwich. Holy moly it’s good.
They also sell natural wines. I dunno what that means. Something about caring about your grapes. *shrug.
How the heck can a wine joint suddenly decide to make sandwiches and just destroy the sf sandwich game? The sandwich was so good that I need to try their entire menu of desserts and cookies or whatever is on there. Hot damn.
Usually, my reviews are one sentence long but this place deserves a michelin award for sandwiches just because of their shrimp sandwich.
If you decide to order the shrimp sandwich and don’t enjoy it then block me because your tastes are trash. Cheers.
— Review by Jeff L.
Top Dishes: Italian American Hoagie, Garlic Roast Pork Hoagie, Hoagie Au Poivre, Cauliflower Sandwich, Roasted Cauliflower Hoagie, Chopped Salad, Braised Lamb Shank, Italian Sandwich, Spring Salad, Bourbon Pumpkin Pie
South San Francisco
223 Grand Ave
Vegan, American (New), Asian Fusion
I initially discovered this vegan restaurant on Instagram during the pandemic. I was sooo excited to find a vegan restaurant with world flavors that happens to be fairly close to where I live! It’s about 3.5 hours away from where I live, but we don’t have anything like that around me.
My husband and I recently ate there. The food, ambience, owner, and team were all very wonderful! There is beautiful artwork and other products from local artists and artisans that Kenny, the owner, displays to help support other local artisans. Kenny has a huge heart and his team is amazing. The place is huge. They often have live music!!! I definitely want to come back when I can to catch a live event dinner event one of these days.
My husband and I, of course, thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Hubby had a vegan chicken sandwich dish and I had vegan lamb. I really wanted to try everything on the menu, so I can’t wait to try the other dishes! We are so excited to travel back to dine again soon!
— Review by Ann N.
Top Dishes: Kebabs, Carnitas Wet Burrito, Chicken Waffle Sandwich, Lumpia, Bahn Mi Sandwich, Aloo Gobi, Filipino Sisig, Palak Paneer, Pandesal, Tacos
2000 Hyde St
$$$ • Spanish, American (New), Seafood
I made a reservation at Abrazo to have a nice dinner before attending the Juanes Concert taking place down the street at the SF Masonic Venue. We were sat immediately by very friendly and polite staff. I am a big fan of all things with Spanish influence. One person in our group had one of the best Gin and Tonic’s of their life which was a nice surprise. We ordered family style and basically shared all of the following…
1. Beef tartare – I don’t have a lot of basis of comparison, but it was a nice presentation and tasted very fresh.
2. Cheese Board – not usually my thing but it was a great appt to share
3. Paella – was delicious. We were scraping the pegao from the pan to get every last bit of rice.
4. Lamb Shank – fall off the bone, juicy, and served in a tasty red sauce
5. Steak – Cooked very well, tender and tasty.
They were a great little spot and met all of our expectations and made for a great start to our night.
— Review by Andrew J.
Top Dishes: Seafood Paella, Lamb Shank, Charred Octopus, Ricotta Churros, Steak Tartare, Arctic Char, Cured Meats, Saffron Tortellini, Oysters, Gulf Prawns