In a city that is steeped in new technology, San Franciscans are still traditionalists at heart. They love their bars with a sense of history. These spots preserve the city’s history, cultural identity and make some darn good drinks.
SF Heritage, which works preserve and enhance San Francisco’s unique architectural and cultural identity, has compiled a guide to more than 130 “heritage bars and restaurants” throughout San Francisco.
Here are the oldest, most remarkable bars, each worth a visit.
Old Ship Saloon, Established: 1851
298 Pacific Ave., www.oldshipsaloon.com
The oldest bar in San Francisco (Elixir will have something to say about that), Old Ship Saloon is a bar made out of a ship hull that ran aground during a storm off of Alcatraz. It was later towed to the current location at the beach. Since renovated, the bar still preserves the memory of the ship.
Elixir , Established: 1858
3200 16th St., www.elixirsf.com
At 16th and Guerrero sits arguably the oldest bar in the city, Elixir. Since the Wild West days, Elixir has been transformed into many things. In 2003 the bar and décor were fully restored, returning it to its original glory.
Shotwell’s, Established: 1891
3349 20th St., www.shotwellsbar.com
Shotwell’s originally opened as a grocery store saloon by German immigrants with a backroom for beer drinking. Today it’s simply known as Shotwell’s, a place where people come to meet, drink beer and play pinball. It serves only beer, but its beer that is well curated to include many micro-brews from the Bay Area.
Northstar Cafe, Established: 1882
1560 Powell St.
The oldest bar in North Beach, Northstar is a comfortable neighborhood bar with a lively character, including such eccentricities a customer-of-the month award and a perpetual supply of free popcorn for its happy patrons.
The Saloon , Established: 1861
1232 Grant St.
The oldest “saloon” in the city, the Saloon has been has been a great place to grab a drink and get your dance through the 2860s, 1960s and today.
Little Shamrock , Established: 1890s
807 Lincoln Way
The oldest business in the Sunset, Little Shamrock has been a favorite watering hole of visitors to the nearby Golden Gate Park for more than a century. Legend has it that the Shamrock first opened in 1893 in another neighborhood entirely but relocated to its current location by 1896, where to this day, people love to have a beer and play darts.