Taps: 43 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 329 | Reviews: 293 | Show All Ratings:
4.31/5 rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75 | $$
As we walked down to the Lower Haight this afternoon, the sun decided to make a cameo appearance and I made a quick detour stop at Groove Records. After finishing up there, we finally arrived at Toronado. The entrance was a half door with an old school western saloon thing going on. The type of half door that you hope doesn’t hit your balls on the back swing.
The long bar is located to the right and tables to the left. This place was vibrant and unexpectedly crowded at 3PM on Tuesday. Other than a bar in New York City, I’m not sure that I would expect to see a congregation of people enjoying great beers at such an unconventional time. Nevertheless, I completely embraced it and was pumped to have the opportunity to order a fresh Pliny on tap.
It was dimly lit inside with loud metal music thumping through the speakers. A gigantic beer list menu greets your eyes as you tilt your head upwards toward the sign. Beer options are nicely organized and well defined, as it offers all of the 50 or so options available (with about 3 hand pump beers). Selections included Pliny the Elder (oh mommy!), Damnation, Blind Pig IPA, Class of ‘88, Merle Saison, Sculpin IPA, Moonlight Death & Taxes and many more. The beer list appears to favor IPA’s with some interesting European offerings mixed in. All beers are served in appropriate glassware.
Worth noting is that there are some really good deals to be found at this beer bar destination. For example, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Anchor Steam are only $4 and the real mind-blower is Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for $4! Maybe it’s the East Coast in me, but that gets me really excited.
The atmosphere at Toronado is raw and filled with true character. This place is the antithesis of a place like Yard House. If you are looking for a sterile place to go to, you should look elsewhere. You belly up to the bar, pay in cash and are rewarded with a quality craft beer and you repeat as needed. One of the greatest attractions is that feeling of trying something new that you’ve either never had before or read about and are eager to have for the first time.
I felt an immense amount of appreciation for the décor of this place. It’s packed with breweriana such as stickers, tin signs, neon signs, flags, tap handles, etc. I spotted a spectacular collection of Anchor Our Special Ale tap handles. I was also psyched to see the Tennessee George ‘No Show’ Jones plate and ‘Zappa for Ever’ sign. Such appreciation to these musical greats truly resonates with me.
Toronado is an establishment with legendary status in the beer bar scene in this country. A ‘must stop’ on my list for many years and I'm so glad I made the visit.
03-26-2014 05:38:22 | More by Hibernator
3.68/5 rDev -13.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Overall a great beer bar. Visited during SF beer week. At the time they had over 50 barleywines on tap from a excellent selection of breweries. The atmosphere was loud and bustling. Frequently shoulder to shoulder throughout the bar. The bar was fairly dirty and there was a lot of toilet paper on the floor throughout the bar. The service was poor, but the knowledge was great.
02-19-2014 01:21:50 | More by jaydoc
4.3/5 rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Stopped in here twice during SF beer week, once for an event and another when nothing was going on. I have wanted to check this place out ever since I stopped at the one in SD, glad I could finally visit it. Atmosphere was exactly how I expected it to be, jam packed and loud. Tons of people all over the place enjoying themselves, some a little too much. I like these kinds of beer bars so if you don't I could see why some wouldn't like it. Service was good even when they were getting slammed with orders. I had a bit of trouble getting their attention but once they saw me it was smooth sailing. Quality was high on the beer end, correct glasses and such, the bar itself could use a hose down every once in a while but it wasn't that bad. Selection was excellent as expected. I was able to try a bunch of the Moonlight beers which was awesome as well as Anchor OBA which has been on my wants for years, all of which was after the -tion night beers which were incredible. Since they are connected to the sausage house next door I am just going to include it, the merguez sausage was awesome. Prices were quite good, even during the event. Overall it was exactly what I was expecting, and even a little more. I would be a regular here if I lived in the bay area.
02-17-2014 18:57:09 | More by orangesol
4.33/5 rDev +1.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
A fellow BA introduced me to Toronado San Diego a few months ago, so when I had a business trip that brought me to San Francisco this week, I knew I would have to check out this location. The draft beer selection was very good, although it was very heavy toward Belgians, which aren't usually my favorite style. It's hard to complain about the selection when they have Blind Pig and Pliny on tap. Plus they had quite a few sours to choose from. The bottle list was also heavy toward Belgians, but I was able to pick up a Velvet Merkin, which I hadn't tried before, and unlike the SD location, they let me bag it up and take it to go. Had I known that before I ordered, I might have gone with the PNC. I love that beer!
This location is much dingier/dirtier looking than the SD location and seemed to be in a fairly rough neighborhood, but I don't mind the dive bar feel. It was very crowded for a Wednesday night and I wasn't able to get a seat at the bar for the entire time I was there, so that was kind of annoying to have to stand the whole time and come up behind people at the bar to order.
I've seen a lot of the reviews that mention terrible service, but my experience couldn't have been better. I gave the bartender a $2 tip when I paid for my first beer. When I came back up 10-15 minutes later, she remembered me and gave me my 2nd beer for free. She didn't mind at all when I asked for the bottle list and brought it right over. I'm sure it helped that I knew what I was looking for and ordered beers quickly without fumbling over the list or asking a lot of questions, holding her up from taking care of other customers.
I don't know many other beer bars in SF to compare this to, but I would definitely stop by again if I were in this area of town.
01-09-2014 05:26:04 | More by GABrew
4.36/5 rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $
22 years ago the tor0nado was a known as a biker bar, but it was the only place in the city with bunches of taps of local and rotating beers (anderson valley, marin, mendocino, anchor, etc)... 11 years ago, the chalk board was the same with a few European beers thrown in (tall glasses of wheat beer) plus the board behind the register always had something new.... it was still mostly local (haight street residents) ... now-a-days - it's mostly tourists and shrill yelpers during the day (happy hours is my time) .. and the board is mostly static with too many overpriced european brews .... but mostly; the prices are good, the pints are filled to the rim... and on one thursday night in december, as i headed to bart, the place was empty and I stopped in for a peaceful glass of xmas ale...
01-04-2014 22:30:27 | More by mattt317
3.63/5 rDev -14.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | $
A - The Toronado is just one of those places you have to love for what it is. Its dark, loud and dingy. Some might even say filthy. But its definitely my kind of filth! This place is legendary in the Bay Area because they have been all about belgian and craft beer way before all us beer geeks were around. And it definitely shows the minute you enter the place.
Q - If your talkin quality of beer, Its awesome! If your talkin quality of the service, not so much. I say just dont be a little sensitive girlyman (or girlygirl) or perform any douche-baggery and you'll be fine. My very first visit there, the bartender gave me a free glass of Pliny for being a newb, and the couple next to me bought my next beer and we chat chitted for a couple hours. but they definitely take care of their tap systems and cellar temps because the beers always taste great.
S - It definitely has a reputation of crappy service. I have seen it... many times, but its never happened to me personally. I always have a great time when I'm there. If you want an example of their service, just follow them on twitter. Its always good for a laugh.
S - Honestly, it doesn't get much better than this. I travel for a living and when I get the opportunity, I'm always searching out as many breweries and craft beer bars as I can. The selection in this place is up to par with Monks Cafe in Philly or Falling Rock in Denver.
F - No food, but you can bring anything you want in there.
V - The beer is definitely not over priced here. Like the previous review stated, "$5 Pliny's, nuff said"!
12-30-2013 00:35:10 | More by Outlandishbrew
4.09/5 rDev -4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $
Atmosphere- This is a bit subjective. The Toronado is loud, dark, and packed with all walks of life- from white collars to blue collars to tattooed skinheads! The music is blaring with heavy rock... and for me, I just loved it. CLEARLY this place is beer-centric. While I loved it, I can see how some others could be turned-off by the atmosphere.
Quality- The place is a little dark and dirty. But that is just the facility. The glassware and draught lines seemed to all be impeccably clean.
Service- There was a low ratio of bartenders to patrons, making it hard to get quick service. Fortunately, my wife and I got seats at the bar, which helped. I read that the bartenders get annoyed if you don't know what you want, but I found them to be perfectly friendly. Despite the fact that I know my beer, I was in a land where I wasn't familiar with a number of brands, and the bartender was quick to make some great suggestions.
Selection- I am very tempted to give them a perfect score here. Their draught and bottle selections were huge in numbers, and more importantly, EVERYTHING was a gem here. I have been to bars with a larger tap list, but Toronado still earns a place in my heart for having one of the best selections overall!
Food- While they don't serve food here, they allow you to bring in food from one of the establishments next door. I found a small vegan place that was actually amazing a few doors down. Truth be told, I am not a vegan... definitely don't seek-out vegan food... I really walked into this restaurant by accident, but went with it, and the food was just excellent.
Value- It's hard to remember, but I paid something rediculous like $5.00 for a tall pint of Pliny. Enough said.
11-02-2013 13:12:31 | More by jgasparine
4.76/5 rDev +11.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75 | $
Tuesday afternoon. Burger from sausage kitchen next door as amazing at $6.50. Beer selection was top notch, including Pliny the Elder at $5 per pint. Servers were very friendly, particularly for a Boston guy that is user to surly service and arrogant/indifferent bartenders. Recommend without hesitation, you'd be an idiot to visit SF without stopping in. Didn't even mention how nice the patrons were. Think Three Penny in VT with Russian River rather than HF and a more eclectic crowd.
10-30-2013 00:29:37 | More by EnronCFO
4.16/5 rDev -2.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.75 | $
At one time, if you wanted to drink some great beer in the City, Toronado was the only option that offered a lot of choices. Fortunately, that is no longer the case as scores of purveyors have wised up to the beer renaissance and offer us serious beer drinkers the quality we demand.
For me, more, quality beer venues caused a reduction in my visits to this original dive, beer mecca. Does this mean Tornado is any less valuable as a beer destination? Fortunately, a recent visit reawakened my fondness for the place. The beer selection is still plentiful, but it's the vibe of the place that gives it such character. It continues to be the same unique, divey, high energy place where youcan have a great conversation with nearly anyone.
Be warned though: There is a FRIENDLY lady bartender here. This may be off putting to those traditionalists who enjoy the gruff service, but I found it refreshing.
10-22-2013 00:37:45 | More by heymikew
3.79/5 rDev -11%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Toronado is essentially I dive bar with an amazing selection. They have so many awesome beers, there was no way I could have sampled them all. The decor was cool. The walls are covered with brewery stickers and old tap handles are displayed like trophies. Service was ok. Since they were busy, it took a while to place an order. The one thing that annoyed myself and the group I was with is the guy checking id's was kind of a jerk. Definitely was on a power trip an May have been drunk. Either way it is a cool place. A "tamale lady" comes in occasionally with coolers full of hot tamales for $5. Check it out if viziting
10-13-2013 12:35:02 | More by mikefuski17
Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 329 ratings.