The City’s Best Irish Pubs, Top Places to Hear Irish Music and Have a Pint
Well, Rory, you didn’t make the cut at Olympic Club for the 2012 U.S. Open in San Francisco.
But not to worry. You can still make the pubs!
And there are plenty of them to explore, surely more fun than those first six holes at Olympic. Here are some suggestions on where to grab a pint in San Francisco to wash away those bad 10-over memories. Couldn’t make a putt? No worries; you can drain all the beers you want at these cool and casual watering holes.
These are Best Irish Bars in “the City,” places that will make you feel like you’re back at home at your neighborhood pubs in Northern Ireland.
• THE IRISH BANK, 10 Mark Lane
The Irish Bank has, according to one Irish regular customer, “the best Guinness in San Francisco.” And who’s to argue with an Irishman!?
It’s located in the Financial District so it’s in a convenient San Francisco location. It has a patio (heated) and the interior decor has everyting from antiques to church pews to a sewing machine. In other words, everything a true Irishman could appreciate.
• THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS, 116 Clement St. (at 2nd)
This place is, “the winner hands down if you want authenticity” according to one PubClub.com Irish bar insider. Live bands play Irish music, there is even Irish step dancing and the dark, battered wood interior adds to the ambiance. Sunday and Tuesday nights it has “open” live music sessions, where anyone who can play Irish music can join in on the stage. It does, though, have “an annoying habit of charging cover for no discernible reason,” according to another PubClub Irish bar insider. McIlroy, however, can not only afford a cover charge but could buy the entire bar their rounds all night from his pocket change.
• SHANGHAI KELLY’S. 2064 Polk St.
It’s narrow, rustic and is full of character. And characters. That’s not a bad thing considering its location in Russian Hill on Polk and Broadway, so you’re likely to find some of the city’s more attractive bar patrons hanging out here pounding the pints.
IRELAND’S 32. 3920 Geary Ave.
A lively, authentic Irish pub with live music and soccer (er, football) on the TVs. It’s one of several Irish bars in the “Inner Richmond” section of San Francisco, which used to be the city’s Irish neighborhood.
• THE BLARNEY STONE, 5725 Geary Ave.
A Giants bar that has Happy Hour to midnight whenever the Giants win, home or away. There’s a beer garden in the back of the bar.
• KENNEDY’S IRISH PUB AND INDIAN CURRY HOUSE. 1040 Columbus Ave.
Yes, it does seems weird, an Irish pub on one side and an Indian curry house restaurant on the other. But the curry is sensational! They serve food until 1 a.m. $3 Guinness during Happy Hour, 5-7 p.m.
• FIDDLER’S GREEN, FISHERMAN’S WHARF. 1333 Columbus Ave.
This is a two-level old bar behind the Marriott in Fisherman’s Wharf. It has bands upstairs but if you just want a few quiet pints without being bothered, pull a barstool up to the small downstairs bar. And hey, you may even get lucky; it’s a favorite stop for flight attendants who are in town on layovers.
• BUENA VISTA CAFE. 2715 Hyde St.
At the risk of including a total tourist place here, it IS a pretty cool place. The bartenders and waiters wear white shirts, ties and white jackets and it has huge bay windows that look out at tourists lining up at the Hyde Street turnaround for the cable cars. It also smells like coffee because it claims to be the place that introduced Irish Coffee to the United States. They sure pour a lot of Irish Coffee drinks in here!
• AU BANDRION and MARTIN MACK’S, HAIGHT-ASHBURY (Haight St. at Clayton St.)
It’s not all Grateful Dead, hippies, bongs and beads in Haight-Ashbury. There’s a bit of Irish to be had here, as well, lads and lasses! Au Bandroin is an Irish pub with DJs on weekends and Celtic music Sundays.The name is Gaelic for an Irish drum made out of goatskin, and there’s one on the wall. Martin Mack’s is another Irish-style pub that’s crowded on weekend afternoons
There are more Irish bars in San Francisco, to be sure. The tourists who don’t know any better head to Lefty O’Doul’s in Union Square on Geary St. But after reading this, you know better, right?