Taps: 43 / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 364 | Reviews: 298 | Display Reviews Only:
4.05/5 rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | $$$
Toronado has one of the most amazing beer selections of any beerpub I've been to. The owner clearly has a penchant for exotic beers, both local and foreign. As a small independent business, the owner sypathetically makes a point to keep on tap many local microbrews such as Moonlight, El Toro, and Russian River.
I was a little bummed out that their online beer list is several years out of date and the highly coveted Westvleteren 12 is no longer stocked there.
The atmosphere is cozy and bustling with hip converstation. San Francisco is a world-class city and the patrons of Toronado are wonderfully representative of the city's culture, politics, and vibe. The bathrooms are pretty nasty though. Guys, be thankful you can pee standing up. Women, make sure to master the zen art of the "hover-squat" before "breaking the seal."
Unfortunately, my group and I did have a serious problem with the service. When we settled down into a table in the back, there were still baskets (from the sandwich shop next door) and junk strewn across the table. Finally after we'd been there for 2 hours, someone came by and started clearing our empty glasses. My brother thanked her and politely asked if she would be so kind as to clear the baskets from the table. She snapped and said that she didn't work there and was only clearing the glasses as a favor to one of her bartender friends. She raised her voice and said that if we had a problem that we should clean up the mess ourselves. She then stomed off in a huff. We were all taken aback wondering just what set her off.
Regardless, I wanted to clear things up. I went up to the bar and again thanked her for clearing our empty glasses. Before I said anything else, she asked if that was my "fucking asshole friend" who "ordered" her to clear the baskets and junk from the table. It was my brother she was talking about and that was unacceptable. For no reason she'd now insulted me. I don't ask much, but I thought an apology was in order. I politely asked her to go back to the table and apologize to my friends and family. She did, but in the most perfunctory way. I thought things had been resolved until I heard her talking shit to one of the bartenders and he was way to eager to indulge her nasty words and attitude. Contempt for your customers is never good for business. Misunderstandings happen, but when ego becomes number one, things never get resolved.
07-07-2006 13:58:00 | More by SacoDeToro
4.88/5 rDev +14.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $
Lower Haight, while having more than a few beautiful row houses, seems to be pretty quiet. I ended up walking here from the Hilton Towers San Francisco, (looong walk). But, just saying that I've been here and have talked politics with the staff here is one of the highlights of my BA life. Beware... I didn't expect to see San Francisco's (and one of the US's) best beer bar to be smack dab in the middle of a quiet neighborhood.
NO imports here. Mainly California brews. And NONE of the ones I tried were less than stellar. None were ice cold - i.e., they were at proper temps. The staff was beyond knowledgeable about their wares, but they really did seem to appear tough. One random group walked in and asked a few questions about the beer, ordered something else (NO IMPORTS AND NO MAINSTREAM US BEERS, I SAY) and then proceeded to ridicule the establishment's "NO PLASTIC" policy (even though an ATM lies across the street). They were immediately told where to go by the gruff, seemingly Scottish, bartender. He literally followed them out of the establishment... BUT. They did deserve it.
Toronado is about as unique a beer experience as I believe you can expect in this country. Don't bother asking for a Guiness or a Stella or even one of the Belgian brews that so many BA's salivate over. And bring cash.
06-19-2006 05:28:50 | More by millhouse
2.7/5 rDev -36.8%
vibe: 1.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | $$
Maybe it had been built up too much by the BA Top 50 Places to have a pint and all of the good things that my friends had to say about the beer selection, but Toronado, the Haight's famous beer bar, was not my cup of tea, or rather, pint of beer per se.
A few things I liked about this place: they've got a beautiful selection of glassware, hundreds of pint glasses, pilsener glasses, weizen glasses, flutes, and chalices. Their selection of California brews is impressive, and they seem to have a good eye for keeping a variety of styles available (I had a saison, a double IPA, and a kriek lambic).
And then there is Rosamunde, the sausage shop next door, with a selection of sausages to make one's head spin--wild boar, duck, lamb, vegan, merguez, andoullie and so much more. The Toronado folks recommend bringing in the sausages; at only $4 a pop, the sausages almost redeemed the Toronado experience for me. Almost.
Because then there are some things that are hard to enjoy about this place. The atmosphere is dark. Not dark as in dimly lit and kind of oddly endearing, but just dark, sparse and dirty. Even with a packed bar (on a Monday afternoon!), this place never had the feel of a fun bar. Then the service. My friends assure me that had the owner been behind the bar, things would have been different, so take these comments with a grain of salt, but I was served by a rude, slothlike bartender who seemed more interested in drinking his own beer and talking about his guns than serving the customers. This alone was more than enough to color the experience negative for me.
I also had a mediocre beer experience here that I think reflects more poorly on the bar than on the brewery in question. I ordered a bottle of New Belgium's Transatlantique Kriek, a beer that's been out of production now for over a year. Excited, I figured that if they had it on the menu (which had been updated only a week earlier) the beer must still be of decent quality. Given the style, the listing, and the price $5.25 for a 12 oz. bottle, I was happy to give it a shot. The bottle had a 'Best Before' date on it of 3/23/04. Before I go any further, I want to own completely the fact that this should have been my red flag. Nonetheless, I assumed that the folks at Toronado knew what they were doing and wouldn't sell a beer that they knew might be had (how long had it been sitting in their cellar?). It was bad. Not horrible, but certainly not fresh and certainly not something that a self-respecting beer bar ought to be serving or charging big bucks for. Again, I know that part of this was my fault, but Toronado shares some of the responsability as well. Caveat emptor and caveat me.
Next time I'm in the Haight, it will be Rosamunde, not Toronado, that I will patronize a second time. For beer in SF, I'll look elsewhere.
06-13-2006 16:36:46 | More by benito
4.39/5 rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | $$
Toronado is the Map Room of San Francisco only I was there during Belgian Beer Month so their tap selection was actually much better than the Map Rooms!!! How good was the tap selection Well I started with an Alaskan Smoked Porter, moved onto a Tripel Imperial, then a La Folie, a Plinny the Elder, and finally a bottle of 2001 Cantillon Lou Pepe. I returned to Toronado again and again to try more of their fantastic beers and often at pretty low prices (they have a great happy hour). Service was a bit strange. The first night I was in there it was packed and yet service was pretty good, albeit surly. The second time I was there the place was quite but there was no bartender. Seriously, the bartender was gone for more than ten minutes while four or five of us just sat waiting. Normally I would have left but not when I was anxiously awaiting some really killer beers. Quality is as high as it gets. The proper, usually brewery issued glassware is used for even the most obscure of beers. The atmosphere is tops. The place itself is punk rockish but the stuff on the walls is all beer related and the real deal, no kitsch. Hundreds of rare tap handles are proudly displayed as are dozens empty 3 liters from Duvel and other considerably more prized bottles. No food is served but they encourage bringing sausages in from next door. Toronado is an international beer drinkers destination and should be first on every BAs list of places to go in the Bay Area.
05-12-2006 19:59:15 | More by DaPeculierDane
4.88/5 rDev +14.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
One of my favorite bars. More on the punk side of things and located in a somewhat crappy part of Haight, Toronado is one of the best beer bars in the country.
I walked in, raving and drooling and sat at the bar. I immediately asked if they had any Moonlight on-tap and the bartender pointed to the board. I felt like a child, mad with excitement over the coming experience. I snapped out of it to see so many great West Coast beers, ready for consumption.
The service was outstanding and the bartenders were not only friendly, but willing to give an out-of-towner like me a chance to sample practically everything! Of course, I rewarded their hospitality by dropping a load of cash on beer plus a great tip. They deserved it.
The crowd was a great mix of friendly people. Not much more to say.
Toronado isn't a beautiful bar and the neighborhood isn't great. But it's not dangerous either. Just use some common sense and you should be just fine. Enjoy!
05-10-2006 16:55:25 | More by TheLoneGunman
4.8/5 rDev +12.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
On a recent trip to San Francisco, I met a cycling buddy and two BAs at Toronado. We got there a bit before 6:00 and I was amazed to find that our first order of four amazing beers, including a Blind Pig IPA and an Alaskan Smoked Porter, was $12 and change. We luckily caught the end of happy hour, but even after happy hour drink prices were very reasonable. The place is dark and loud, with beer memorobilia everywhere. The selection is absolutely incredible. Coming from a beer-deprived county, I was overjoyed to see Russian River, New Belgium brews other than Fat Tire, and a great selection of Belgians. I'll admit my beer travels are not extensive, but the only place I've seen that even comes close to this selection is Lucky Baldwin's. The service was prompt. In the middle of our session, we ran two doors down for some fantastic Indian food and then came back to finish the evening with a couple more beers. All in all, an experience that lived up to high expectations. Thanks to brewbacca and DaPeculiarDane for sharing some pints with us.
05-07-2006 23:27:05 | More by mickeymac
4.36/5 rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
Went to the Toronado after it was recommended to me by the owner of Naja's and the brewmaster at Hoptown. I took it that those were pretty damn good recommendations, so this must be a place I had to hit up.
Walked in the pub at around 10pm on a Saturday night. It was quite hoppin', but we still found a place to sit and sidled up to the bar to order a few pints.
I tried a few of the local beers and settled on a Moonlight Bombay by the Boat IPA and the Speakeasy Old Godfather. I also ended up trying the New Belgium 2 Below and the Full Sail Wreck the Halls. The place was rather crowded, so I didn't ask for too many tastes before deciding on what I wanted. They had a ton of Craft Brews on tap and most of them were pretty big beers. It was like heaven for beer drinkers.
The environment was full of men and seemed rather punky, but it was very comfortable. It didn't have that pick-up bar feel which is very nice. Nothing like going to a place with a bunch of meat heads bothering the hell out of you.
I don't know if there was food in the place, but I do know that you can order full on German sausage from the place next door. I don't eat meat, or else I would have tried it...it smelled rather good.
I would hit this place up anytime. Too bad I don't currently live in San Fran. If I did, the bar would know me by name.
04-20-2006 21:56:43 | More by PuckLSHS
4.06/5 rDev -4.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Made a point to stop here on our recent jaunt down to the Bay Area to see David Gilmour at the Paramount. Neighborhood bar/Watering Hole feel. TV with "Da Game" on above the bar. Tables on the left. Bar on the right. Larger seating area with 2 tables in the back to the left. No staff. No food. A loveable surley ("Tip You Bastards!" sticker on the till) Bartender. Just Beer with many rare High Quality Import Lagers and Ales available on roughly 20-25 taps. Availabily in plain sight on a HUGE reader board as you walk in. Well done. Makes makin' a difficult choice less difficult. No: "Damn, i wished i knew you had ___" which happens often in a few of our local PDX Pubs. Again, well done.
Place was filled with what i assume were local Beer Nuts and/or sports fans cheerin' the Oakland A's on. As Toronado has a fine selection of Belgians on tap, me and the wife tried 4. All served in Tulips which was a first and much appreciated. I noticed the appropriate glassware was made a point here. That's good. Somewhat spendy pints when compared to what we pay in Portland, but i guess that's to be expected.
Overall, a pleasant experience.
If i lived in the neighborhood, i'd return.
04-19-2006 02:05:45 | More by libertygrails
5/5 rDev +17.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $
May I begin with that fact that I have been to several bars all over the United States and I am convinced that this is the best bar in the country by far, even better than bars in NYC, Brooklyn and Boston. It's all about their selection, which varies from being absolutely amazing to unbelievably, wide-eyed amazing. The best breweries from Southern California and North California end up on draught here, and it's the rarest most exclusive beers. They also have a great Belgian list, with vintage saison. There are several local eateries nearby where you can bring food inside. It's in San Fran, one of the best cities in the world. This is one of the best in the world, maybe even better than Kulminator, IMHO.
03-29-2006 15:43:33 | More by Crosling
4.61/5 rDev +8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $
Toronado is a San Francisco classic. A very low-key store front in the Lower Haight with only the Chimay signs hanging outside giving you a clue to the cornucopia of beer inside.
Usually about 50 beers on tap, with many styles and regions represented. Lately, I've noted a preponderance of IPA's and other hop-heavy craft brews, but the selection changes frequently (just check out the collection of tap handles). Great place for tap and bottle Belgians as well. Lots of beer poured here so the selections are usually very fresh.
Just a few wooden tables and stools inside - nothing spectacular. No food, but Memphis Minnies BBQ across the street, Rosamunde Sausage grill next door and an average pizza joint on the other side - you can bring food in. Just as an aside...San Francisco's most famous "medical marijuana" dispensary (The Vapor Room) is just a few doors west (you'll need a doctor's prescription to get in).
Daily happy hour from 11AM to 6PM. Yearly barleywine festival and Belgian Beer month (April) are other reasons to go.
Very friendly staff - as long as it's not too crowded and you don't order a Bud Light.
Been in San Francisco for many years and still haven't been to a better beer bar.
03-29-2006 06:04:06 | More by mghotbi
Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 364 ratings.