10 fun small wine lists in San Francisco
It can be a lot of fun to peruse pages and pages of wine, but it can also feel overwhelming or exhausting at times. The following are wine spots with lists under three pages long — concise, but with a sense of integrity and plenty to explore.
Phone: (415) 624-3140
Address: 3565 20th Street, San Francisco
This cozy Mission District wine bar occupies a former record shop, referenced with stacks of actively enjoyed vinyl along the wall and the space’s original vintage neon sign still protruding above the corner entrance. The vibe is always inviting, with cozy couch options and spinning stools along a cozy bar. The kitchen, though small, manages to put out an impressive rotating assortment of mid-sized plates, including the best deviled eggs in town.
Phone: (415) 549-7612
Address: 458 Grove Street, San Francisco
To love Birba is to love Angie Valgiusti, the charming, outspoken owner of the small bar with an inviting back patio on a quieter side street in Hayes Valley. Aside from a splash of texture and color from Spanish tiles behind the bar and a few carefully selected pieces of rotating artwork along the walls, Birba is fairly austere on its interior. This is just as well, because the narrow space is easy to fill and less easy to navigate once it’s fully packed and patrons are snacking on boquerones in every corner. Service is casual — don’t be surprised if you end up pouring wine for other guests b...
Phone: (415) 589-7005
Address: 313 Ivy Street, San Francisco
This little wine bar sits unassumingly in an alleyway just off the main drag in buzzing Hayes Valley. The interior of the small space feels cozy, with a handful of unique seating options, such as a shabby-chic bunk bed and a sleek dark wood-lined bar area. There is a selection of local cheese and charcuterie to nosh on along with owner Angel Davis’s concise and frequently changing list of bottles.
Phone: (415) 416-6959
Address: 838 Divisadero Street, San Francisco
On the northern border of Western Addition’s NoPa (North Panhandle) neighborhood, restaurant Che Fico offers northern Italian cuisine through the lens of California with a special nod to “Cucina Ebraica”, the Jewish-Italian culinary heritage. One may enjoy their meal at either a broad table in a softened industrial dining space or in the buzzy, dark bar area near the entrance.
Address: 639A Divisadero Street, San Francisco
Industry favorite Fool’s Errand overlooks the hustle and bustle of Divisadero Street in the NoPa neighborhood. The rustic, wood-lined wine and beer bar is usually packed to the gills in the evening, due in part to limited space; but mostly because of specially sourced beers and particularly tasty wine selections — emphasis on the Riesling. When the weather is nice (enough), the wineminded can spill out of the bar onto what is reported to be the world’s first parklet.
Phone: (415) 285-6005
Address: 300 Precita Avenue, San Francisco
Overlooking Precita Park at the base of Bernal Heights, Hillside Supper Club stands as a neighborhood haven that also draws wine-savvy guests from other parts of town. The restaurant’s one-page list is a mix of old world classics, such as Elisabetta Foradori and Gonon, and California darlings like Graham Tatomer. For the first time now the brothers Ferrari have also added their own rosé to the list; while Italian by name, it is Provencal by nature — and sourced locally, just like the cuisine.
Phone: (415) 440-5446
Address: 871 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Halfway up the hill in San Francisco’s diverse “tendernob” neighborhood, a neon blue and yellow sign outside of Liholiho Yacht Club directs guests into a bustling bar and a narrow room with an equally busy open kitchen. Make no mistake, this is not a yacht club in the traditional sense — the nearest body of water is two miles away. The restaurant’s name refers to a low-key “yacht club” gathering among friends, a memory from Chef Ravi Kapur’s culturally diverse upbringing in Hawaii. The playfulness of the name hints at the vibe coming through the creative, heritage-driven food (pulling predo...
Phone: (415) 872-5512
Address: 2065 Polk Street, San Francisco
In a storybook Victorian building on a corner in Russian Hill, restaurant Lord Stanley’s streamlined interior frames striking dinner platings of naturally ornate seasonal local ingredients, artfully presented with a modern touch. Items like confit morel mushroom galette or onion petals with Sherry vinegar are available a la carte; but the chefs’ tasting menu with optional beverage pairings is a must for the full experience.
Phone: (415) 558-9946
Address: 1116 Folsom Street, San Francisco
This edgy wine bar in SoMa has an industrial cathedral-like feel, with candles flickering out from behind beams and wine crates and an enviable “boneyard” of conquered bottles reaching up to the ceiling and some crackly vinyl on the player. The space has a few different seating options, including a small cozy lounge on a mezzanine overlooking the larger space for those wishing to make themselves scarce. Most visitors to Terroir tend to hover around the small central bar, hoping to catch a drop out of the next guy’s bottle to go with their charcuterie.
Phone: (415) 986-9651
Address: 242 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco
Tosca Café is a true San Francisco institution, long-favored among celebrities, politicians, beatniks and everyone in between. Although founded in 1919, this North Beach establishment only became a major dining destination over the last half-decade under the direction of famous New York Chef, April Bloomfield. Menu items strike a note of nostalgia for old Italian San Francisco while maintaining an element of seasonal freshness. The contemporary version of this historically infamous watering hole also contributes a tidy Italianate wine list to the extensive continuing roster of special bar offe...