Toronado

Not Rated.
ToronadoToronado
BA SCORE
95
world-class

436 Ratings
Ratings: 436
Reviews: 315
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: n/a
Taps: 43
Bottles: --
Cask: Y
[ Bar ]

547 Haight St
San Francisco, California, 94117-3406
United States
phone: (415) 863-2276

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Place added by: BeerAdvocate

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Ratings: 436 | Reviews: 315
Reviews by slander:
Photo of slander
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Torofuckinado, during San Francisco beer week. Oh, apparently there’s an event tonight...

You receive a ‘welcome ID’ing’ (yes, the 1960’s, and thank you) at the ½ open corral door (very Mr. Edesque), and then you go inside and drink beer. The place was packed but almost immediately, we snagged a table of which there are not many; a highly coveted piece of real estate to be sure. It was all Ben’s doing, truth be known. He scoped out potential departures, performed the set up and put the helpful departure suggestions ‘lean on’ where necessary, and then moved in to seize the table just when they showed the slightest inkling of heading out. It was most impressive. I have decided that ‘sizing up when people are going to leave and positioning oneself to be right on top of them when they do, thereby snagging their table’ is Ben’s super hero skill. I’m sure there’s a better name for it than ‘guy who makes people want to leave’, though.

Long narrow space with a tiny room around the bend to the rear. “L” shaped bar to the right disappearing under the overhang to the rear seating who knows how many in this crowd. 2 rows of 9 taps each on a wood box on the barback, and an alternating row of 24 below the bar. Glassware shelved a good length along the barback, and stemmed from the underside. Pics & photos, signage, tap handles, trophies, toys, cans, and figurines, lining the around & up over that. Good “In loving memory of Frank Zappa” page.

Green walls all around, and a grayish ceiling (impossible to tell in this or any light), with wood, what would be crown moldings. A couple of ceiling lamps, and light strung baby spots to the rear. 6 hightops adjacent to the bar, running front to back. The wood panel half wall along the hightops is done up with brewery placards; the length of its trim lined with Duvel magnums (with some Russian River play in there for laughs). Brewery placards, pub signage, neons, & mirrors above, and tap handles displayed atop. The opposite wall, forward the bar is just completely pasted with stickers of everything from everywhere.

Schneider flaggings from the ceiling up front, and neons in the logo windows to both sides of the door, with smaller horizontal windows running above. The taps listed on a big hop lined slat board over the rear hang, and a single TV in the corner. Rear space below the hang holds more magnums shelved, and tap handles above all the way around. A row of a good 20 Anchor OSA handles provides bad flashbacks of that OSA tasting we did back in the day. And I kind of thought I’d see old Grant’s handles up there, but no. Interesting shirts and schwag scene back there. And a small room off the rear to the left with a half dozen tables. People; they sit at them. TV’s and beer trays adorn.

Currently, all 42 taps are occupied. 1/3 of them (yes, that’s 14) are from Russian River for this event, by which I mean, “Fuck!” (Damnation, Damnation Batch 23, Supplication, Supplication 2010, Consecration, Defenestration, Temptation, Temptation 2008, Sanctification, Sanctification 2010, Framboise Cuvee 2010, Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, CBC Symposium Sour Brown). The remaining 2/3 are craft (5 from Lagunitas, 3 each from Upright & Deschutes, a pair each from Moonlight, Ninkasi, & Widmer, and one offs Anchor Steam, Allagash White, High Water Aphotic Baltic Porter) and imports (Rodenbach Grand Cru, N’Ice Chouffe, Mort Subite Kriek, Radeberger Pils, Franziskaner Hefe, Schneider Aventinus & Edel-weisse), at a 3 to 1 ratio, and the Two Rivers Pomegranate Cider. And 3 handpumps on the far end of the bar back there (Moonlight Twist of Fate Bitter & Bombay By Boat IPA, Sierra Nevada Celebration). We shared the Consecration (duh!), Defenestration (Belgian Pale Ale, dry, hoppy, lovely. ‘A wild ale of good’, says Ben), Temptation, Sanctification (aged in Bretty not suck), CBC Sour Brown (yeah, uh huh), and I had a Deschutes Black Butte XXIII (because because).

On return just a day later, seems they’ve moved onto a New Belgium event (Russian River was sooo yesterday, literally). We slummed it with such slouches as the Lips of Faith La Terrior, Eric’s Ale, Super Cru, Transatlantique Kriek, Tart Lychee, and the Love (Felix), and agreed that the Eric’s Ale, Tart Lychee, & Love (Felix) were the best of ‘em.

Gave them a day’s breather and returned on Sunday for the Barleywine fest. Some real nice offerings. Hey! Can you not read the sign? (Order by number, douchebag). Sampled a few and then had another Moonlight Twist of Fate Bitter (just goddamn stellar).

It’s a cool scene. I had zero problem with service and they’ve got a good crowd of kids drinking better beer. There is a tamale woman wheeling her wares through, hadn’t seen that one before. Wait. There’s a bottle list? Didn’t need to get at it, mind you we were in full beer week event flail. Ben described this place as being “fucking awesome”, and Bethy added, “The awesome is prominent”, as she knows what’s what. Who am I to disagree?

More User Reviews:
Photo of lackenhauser
4.64/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Have not been in here since 1990. Even then it's bartenders had a bad rep. Oh well still a great place and seemingly unchanged. First server was decent enough to recommend a beer for my non beer drinking cousin. 2nd could not have been any nicer and when I discovered he was from Scotland and a Dead Head and told him my wife was nearby well we were old lost friends at that point! Thought I would be more blown away by the selection but with Pliny on tap the rest paled in comparison. Sausage place next door rocked it hard!!! A beer lover's must!!!

Photo of jvodom
4.33/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Great draft and bottle selection. Don't wear a tie.

Photo of AgentMunky
4.03/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25

I didn't even know these bartenders had a rep for a long time. I've never had any trouble. Just obey the unspoken rules of Toronado-- Do Not Step to the Bar Unless : 1) you know what you want, 2) you have cash (and only cash!) in hand. I don't mind brusque; it's a busy bar, and you will get your beer incredibly fast.

Good keg management, expensive bottles, and good (if not great) selections.

Photo of tazzman
3.93/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.5

Good selection of drafts. Server must have been hungover very grumpy. Sausage next door with their selection of beers was excellent. Would go back hopefully another beer tender would be working.

Photo of JamLand
4.57/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5

A must stop when in SF. Small, dark, dive bar feel to the place. In my only visit, the regular selection wasn't anything special. However, when you crack open a secret keg of Pliny the Younger and I can buy Cable Car there, then you get a 5 for selection in my book. As for the infamous bartenders...they're fine. I'd say a lot of people are babies. Yes, if you ask them a dumb question, they will treat you like you asked a dumb question. Personally, I enjoyed watching their various interactions.

Photo of M_chav
4.93/5  rDev +14.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

Any place that has PtY on tap is great, fast paced and fun place to visit - don't get offended!

Photo of erha2
4.36/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I personally had no problems with the bartenders but could see trouble for clueless customers. Love the speed metal vibe while drinking some of the best beers in the world. They had Cable Car for $60 or $80/bottle depending on vintage.

Photo of Dodgerrigo77
5/5  rDev +16.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

The original, come correct or get to steppin. Kindly ask for the bottle list.

Photo of jimh67
4.81/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I've been wanting to visit this place for a long time. It was everything I was looking for and more....
Patrons and staff were awesome! Sat with one of the staff (steeler fan) and watched MNF-Falcons/Packers. Very knowledagble on beer and suggested some bay area breweries that I might like-Faction in Alameda-I was staying in east bay. It is def. worth the trip across the bay bridge.
Forgot how good the Pliny was when fresh like that. Reaffirmed to me that it is the best.

Photo of ckeegan04
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

Great selection. Cool, low key vibe. A little divey, but that is fine with me. Patrons were friendly as could be and the service was fine. Definitely a place worth checking out.

Photo of raynmoon
3/5  rDev -30.1%

Been many times and always had really good beer on tap. Most recently I asked for a beer menu and saw PNC on there, asked if I could get one and the bartender went to go look... I think... Waited about ten minutes... He just started serving other people, passing me by, never said anything. Another bar tender asked what beer I want, I said "do you guys still carry PNC?" He looked pissed exclaiming "what the fuck, why would you ask that if he already told you we don't have it. God!" And walked away.


I was stunned. I tired to say "he didn't say anything to me" and nobody next to me noticed the rudeness or even cared.

Not sure I'll ever come back.

All in all, they get the best of everything as they are the first on every breweries list to get rare kegs: Younger, Cable Car, BCBS, but do not expect to be treated well.

Photo of smakawhat
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%

What more needs to be said about this iconic place?

A beer bar mecca. One that maintains old school classic dive bar roots, but serves up amazing brews for next to nothing.

Top notch ambiance. Stickered walls, grafitti bathrooms, no bullshit here folks. And that tap list to boot. Where else are you going to go to get amazing beers from Russian River, Alpine, Moonlight Brewing, Deschutes, and many more for 5 or 6 bucks a pint?

Not fancy dancy. Doesn't need to be, so don't come here out holding your pinky talking about the latest whale you just slayed either. Bottle list does have some interesting ones, but it's a bit small surprisingly, and the coveted stuff goes fast. Was hoping for maybe some crazy Speedway variants, or Lost Abbey gems, or Bruery, but no worries.

Great people also work here as well who enjoy talking and shagging and serving pints. Much thanks to Steve. And Bill Gould lives down the street and has popped in from time to time. How cool is that.

Nothing more needs to be said, take it in proper how you like it, either early when no one is there to have to yourself, or packed like a mad house its up to you. Either way you'll never forget the beers you have here.

Photo of ChanChan
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

I stopped by on 9/13/2014. I had been looking forward to coming for a long time. Here is what I thought of this place.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere is not bad, a guy stands at the front and asks for an ID to come in. Once inside the bar is dimly light. It was a Saturday afternoon so the bar was packed. A couple were gracious enough to share their table so that was nice.

Selection: The selection was pretty excellent!! I did not see anything that blew my mind but when you have Nelson, Blind Pig, and Pliny all on-tap you know they don't mess around!!

Service: Eh, wasn't there for the service. The bartenders look like they are not there to make friends. I have read from several reviews that say that their service made for a terrible experience but I drove +300 miles to have a pint at this bar so a rude bartender is not gonna ruin my experience!!

Value: The value was excellent. $5.00 Pints of Pliny, Nelson, etc, hell yeah!! Please remember to bring cash, I believe that is all they take. Luckily that was what I had at the time.

Food: This bar does not serve food but I have heard they let you take food inside. As this is a very popular street, there are several restaurants around the area. It actually smells of food when you walk out. I decided to stop by Memphis Minnies across the street and had a delicious tri-tip sandwich!!

Overall: I recommend this place!! This is a cool and historic beer pub. The Cons include the fact that The atmosphere and service is not for everyone. Also, the parking is a complete nightmare!! Nevertheless, next time I am in SF I will try and stop by, have a pint or four, and make my way to some of those really great restaurants!!

Photo of craft_shannie
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

visited the afternoon of 9/10. had alpine's nelson, moonlight's death & taxes, and faction's summer ipa on draft. great tap variety (allagash, russian river, moonlight, etc) to choose from, but not the most exhaustive list, by any means. bottled beer list seemed a bit slim when i visited. brewery stickers & other memorabilia decorate every inch of the place. very comfortable, relaxed. jukebox is filled w. a lot of metal and its played loud. fortunately, i was able to sneak in some elvis. this place is legendary & did not disappoint.

Photo of mike312
5/5  rDev +16.6%

Typical dive bar, okay service, but their second-to-none beer selection (Russian River, Alpine, etc.) speaks for itself.

Photo of nmann08
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

We stopped in starting at 3pm on a Friday and it was a great time to be there. We were able to get a seat in the bar area, rather than the back room (which is dark and quiet). It was 3/4 full and we stayed for a few hours. We left around 7pm and it was just starting to fill up.

The day-time bartender is good, but a bit of curmudgeon. Maybe that's his charm? When they changed over at about 5pm, it was like night and day, super friendly and engaging.

I thought the bottle list was a little weak when we visited, but I must admit, I had previously decided I was pulling the trigger on anything super rare they may have.

The tap list is great as expected. Toronado has a good reputation, lots of reviews, and I can promise that it is as advertised still to this day. If you haven't been, go and enjoy.

Photo of notchucknorris
4/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5

I live down in San Diego and Toronado SD has long been my favorite bar, period. So when we decided to take a trip up to SF, the one thing I knew we had to do was check out the original Toronado there. The place didn't really disappoint. As I expected, it was pretty dive-y, but had a great tap list and the bottle list that day was more than adequate. I had been warned going in, but the service was pretty ridiculous. The bartender refused to say anything to me. Or pretty much anyone else in the bar, now that I think of it. I missed the sign saying "Cash Only" and tried paying with a card, to which he just looked at me and shook his head without saying a word. And don't even bother asking for a recommendation. You won't get one. This place was definitely worth the trip, but don't expect to be treated like a human being there.

Photo of spark3148857
1/5  rDev -76.7%

After numerous visits, the last of which involved calling sfpd on the staff, I will never visit Toronado again. Sadly the exceptional beer menu doesn't make it worth being disrespected and harassed by the staff of Toronado. If you wish to be treated with respect in a welcoming environment then there are numerous bars and breweries in the city such as city beer store, cellarmaker, speakeasy, 21st amendment....the list could go on and on in a city like San Francisco. No beer is worth subjecting oneself to the treatment of Toronado. A lesson I learned the hard way.

Photo of indianabeerman
4.82/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

loved this place. decor was cool. great tap list and also a aged beer list. the bartender could not have been nicer. the crowd was laid back . just a cool place. started out with a pliny the elder and finished off with death and taxes. lots of russian river beers on tap here

Photo of Clembo1957
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75

My annual visit to San Francisco wouldn't be complete without a trip to Toronado. With Russian River - Pliny The Elder on tap what more do you need in a bar! In an ever changing world it's nice to find a constant, long May Toronado serve beer! Happy hour prices are great value and the 71 bus passes by.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.87/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25

Well I ventured in knowing the reputation and it seems a bit exaggerated. Service wasn't friendly but it wasn't rude or disrespectful like some people say. I went twice and had a different bartender each night, I ordered quickly, paid my cash and had no problem getting beers. If anything the place reminded me a lot of the Falling Rock in both decor and service. They have a very nice tap selection and you can find lots of good beers for only $5. I think the San Diego location is a touch better because they are actually friendly and its bigger.

Photo of sholland119
4.48/5  rDev +4.4%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75

Lives up to the legend in most every way. Walked here from our lunch stop at Magnolia Pub. We were going to hang out in a nearby park to read for a while after lunch, until we saw the denizens of the park. Too many people living out of their shopping carts for us to be comfortable so we pressed on.

A very cool low key vibe when we arrived in mid-afternoon. Timing being everything since the annual Lost Abbey Cable Car release was scheduled for 6pm that day. We decided not to wait that one out and chose to enjoy the rest of the amazing tap list instead. Wonderfully diverse and reasonably priced, we enjoyed a couple of locals as well as our first draft taste of Andechs Doppelbock.

Service was actually pleasant in our experience. Though the bartender seemed to have a contentious relationship with some of the other patrons (mostly related to the CC tapping), she could not have been nicer to us.

Dug it! Would go back anytime.

Photo of Hibernator
4.31/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of jaydoc
3.68/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

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Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 436 ratings.