San Francisco is notorious for its obscenely high cost of living, with rent prices that will make your eyes pop and menus that will make your wallet cringe. But within the vast array of things to do in San Francisco are a variety of cheap watering holes serving up drink specials and happy hours that will quell any guilt over going out night after night. From the hip Mission district to the Castro, here are a few of the best places to booze on the cheap in the city.
Anyone looking to get smashed on the cheap will be easily lured into Barracuda Sushi by the three-dollar sake bombs. Located in the Castro neighborhood, and best known for its pounding nightlife, this sushi bar/restaurant is the perfect place to start off. Wednesday offers dollar sake and beer all day, and Thursday brings in a rowdy crew of 20-somethings for the ridiculously cheap sake bombs. And with daily happy hours, bottomless-mimosa Sundays, and affordable sushi, Barracuda is a solid alternative to your standard bar fare in the city.
Due to its proximity to Union Square and the Financial District, Dave's attracts bustling happy-hour lovers from businessmen looking to let out steam to local hipsters, regulars, and wandering tourists. The cozy single-room venue is a sports bar at its core, with local team memorabilia lining the walls and flat-screens tuned to the games. There's no better place in the area to drop in to enjoy a Giants game over cheap beer (especially during happy hour) and affordable ballpark food like hotdogs and nachos. If you have friends stopping by later, open a tab and give them a nice surprise by putting their name on the drinks board behind the bar -- they'll have a frothy glass handed to them when they arrive. And who knows, maybe the favor will be repaid the next time you stop at Dave's.
Hobson's Choice Bar
Nestled into the eccentric Haight neighborhood, Hobson's Choice Bar has a selection of over 120 kinds of rums that would make any pirate jealous. You'll find local college students, old tatted Haight locals, and hipsters all sipping down the three-dollar rum punches with pride. It's the kind of place where you won't feel embarrassed ordering a fluffy and colorful drink, or their five dollar espresso martini special. The deals get even better during happy hour. So come to Hobson's for a packed house of fun-loving boozers and it won't take much of a tab before you find yourself trying your best Jack Sparrow impressions.
This is one of those bars where the name says it all: The décor is proudly white trash (with the back-end of an aluminum trailer sticking out of a wall), the menu could very well be ground zero for the obesity epidemic (deep-fried Twinkies are the specialty), and cocktails have names like "The Dirty Camaro." And yet, Butter is still a hotspot in the Soho district, attracting beautiful people pre-gaming for the clubs or simply young hipsters and frat-bros boozing the night away at what is supposedly home to the first Red Bull and vodka. The beer, the liquor, and the food are all dangerously cheap and the DJs spin almost every night. A hanging sign displaying "the consumption of alcohol may cause pregnancy" is a good representation of the bargain basement debauchery you can expect from Butter.
For music lovers looking for great deals in the ultra-cool Mission District, Casanova Lounge is hard to beat. Thursday through the weekend sees a constant crowd of bohemian youngsters and a variety of great DJs, even during happy hour. Part of the fun of the place is its identity crisis, as you're never quite sure if you're in a dive bar or a lounge: The bachelor-pad feel, mood lighting, and pretentious portraits seem to be a self-aware joke on its own name, and adds to the flavorful funkiness of the atmosphere. Whether you're day drinking or out for the night, Casanova Lounge is the best bang for your buck in the Mission District.
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