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Toronado

Not Rated.
ToronadoToronado
BA SCORE
95
world-class

384 Ratings
Ratings: 384
Reviews: 302
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 13.08%
Taps: 43
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: 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:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 384 | Reviews: 302 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Goldorak
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%

You know what we’ve noticed? Not a lot of fat people in San Fran. Pretty easy to figure out why, those damn steep hills will keep the weight off anyone who has to walk up and down this roller coaster of a town. We walked from the farmer’s market in the Embarcadero to the Anchor Brewery where we had a tour booked, and even though the mission and lower haight were not too far away, we took a bus to Toronado. We ended up getting off at the wrong stop, and walked another hour uphill anyways in the sort of crusty neighborhood it happens to be in. So my energy and alcohol levels were getting pretty low. I almost tripped over the off-white wooden half-door as I walked in.

If ever they wanted to give an illustrated example of a dive bar in the dictionary, a picture of this place would be perfect. Old and warn, dusty and dirty, with a few salty dogs sitting at the bar, and an actual dog begging to have a piece of those sausages cooked next door. Lots of knick-knacks and memorabilia were scattered all over the bar area, each one probably with an interesting story to go with it. And my girlfriend didn’t like the place at all, a genuine endorsement of dive bar authenticity if there ever was one.

We sat down in the booth section in the back and to the left, which is a little more intimate compared to the clamor and music on the other side. No service at the tables, so I took a look at the impressive list on the board and went for a Moonlight Twist of fate on cask. Service was fine, I didn’t get any attitude, dirty looks or any sign of patronizing from the bartender. Not that I tried to extract a conversation from the guy, I just ordered my pints, paid and took them to my seat. I did however later asked for a T-shirt, he said kind of dryly “no”. I asked why not, there seems to be a large one right there, and he showed it to me and smiled, it was a girlie T. Oups…

After a short while Francisweizen showed up after work as well as Hey_Kevin, a RB guy who I met at the airport (he spotted my Dieu du Ciel T-shirt). Francis made me try a Russian River Beatification, holy crap was it good. In fact every pint and bottle we had was top notch. In a dive bar, the only things that should be clean are the Beer lines and fridges, and it seems to be the case here. And the selection is great, and I’ve been told that turnover is pretty fast, so there’s always something new and interesting on.

Don’t be intimidated, go there and have a good time. One of my top-5 beer experiences of my 2006 California tour. As hard as it is to be fat in this town, I’d still manage to sport a respectable Beer gut if I lived close enough to this bar. But I’d have to reside close enough not to go up any sharp inclines, so that would narrow it down to the same block. Maybe those sausage guys will let me crash next to the grill after they close up…

Goldorak, Sep 27, 2006
Photo of anchored
4.13/5  rDev -3.5%

this is the best place i have ever drank beer in my life, i came in for 1 beer and didnt end up leaving for 6 hours. happy hour is the time to come and pick up a wild boar sausage next door. great place and one that i will visit again! the bartenders personalities are questionable but they serve the beer up with minimal complaints and are fast considering the sizeable amount of people they serve . a great place to drink and expand your beer horizions. also its worth noting the memphis minnies down the street and the rosemeade sausages are the best grub to eat when in at a bar session and they encourage you to bring them in.

anchored, Sep 25, 2006
Photo of instrumentality
4/5  rDev -6.5%

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon (labor day weekend), and the place quickly became mobbed after we arrived. The decor was worn out and plastered with stickers, the music was loud (mostly punk and metal as far as I could tell), the bathroom was filthy (to the point where contributing graffiti seemed to be a tradition), and the service, while attentive, wasn't exactly delivered with a smile. However, after reading about the "beer nazi" mentality, the service was as I expected, and the environment got the message across very well - this place was all about hanging out and drinking good beer.

Awesome tap selection - in the neighborhood of 40-50 quality brews on tap (no crap), including a number of IPA's and a few Belgians. I could have spent my entire 4-day trip there, but given that I was seeing San Francisco with my girlfriend, I had to be selective in my consumption. Since I decided to nix the 5-hour round-trip bus journey to Santa Rosa/Russian River, I devoted my visit to RRBC brews. The Blind Pig IPA lived up to the hype. The Damnation wasn't as good as I remembered it from the bottle, but still drinkable. My girlfriend had a Lindeman's Framboise and her first draught New Belgium 1554. Overall, we were both happy with our selections. We cut ourselves off after a couple of brews so we could hop over to the Magnolia brewery down the street and try some more.

We must have been there during happy hour or something, because while the Blind Pig and Framboise were $9 and change together, the 1554 and Damnation were only $6 together, although the latter two were clearly posted as being $4 apiece on the menu.

The food menu we saw consisted of several different kinds of sausage made with meats ranging from pork to beef to duck, and even one vegetarian option. We weren't hungry, so we passed, but I'm curious about the duck sausage.

Someday I'll have to go back and prepare my liver for much more extensive consumption. This place is a beer advocate's dream, and I sense that no trip to SFO is complete without a visit to Toronado.

instrumentality, Sep 05, 2006
Photo of rayjay
4.19/5  rDev -2.1%

PROS:
-Lots of taps (40+-), constantly rotating, "no crap on tap"
-Loud punk rock music (old people may rate this a con)
-Lots of awesome Bay Area breweries represented: El Toro, RR, Speakeasy, Drake's, Anchor, Trumer, etc
-Always several IPA's and 2xIPA's (Pliny, Deuce, Double Daddy...), served in pints (I was once served a Pliny the Younger in a pint!!??!!!)
-Always several Belgians on tap (Duchesse, Cantillon, Chimay White, Saison Dupont, etc)
-Proper glassware, no frosted mugs
-Great bottle selection
-No food, but you can bring your own (best sausage and best fallafels in the city are on the same block)
-Clean tap lines with freshly tapped kegs
-A few hand pumps with real cask ale

CONS:
-Excellent example of a dive bar
-Commonly smells of vomit
-Bartenders, although usually tolorable, can be total assholes. Especially the short guy with the sideburns. Tone down the anger, guys, that effects your tip in case you didn't notice.
-Dark and dingy
-Can be crowded and hard to find a seat
-Shady neighborhood after dark
-It can take an hour to park around here
-Shit happens there, like the time I kicked a keg of Cantillon. Tons of foam, what little beer there was was practically white with sediment. Bartender still charged me $8 and insisted that was what the beer was supposed to be like (funny, 30 minutes earlier I had a glass from the same keg and it poured fine). F that guy.

Well, it looks like the pros win so I'll be back!!!!

rayjay, Aug 16, 2006
Photo of clickpush
4.14/5  rDev -3.3%

Just a couple blocks from my home, Toronado appears to be THE beer destination in San Francisco... at least according to BA. Personally, unless I'm going in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week, I'd rather get my beer to go. This place is a bit too loud for my taste, a bit too grungy, and a bit too crowded on Fridays and Saturdays. I love dirty dive bars, don't get me wrong, but I don't like shouting over death metal when I'm talking to my friends, and I don't like fighting for the attention of stoned (or burned out) bar tenders.

That being said, their draft list is sweet and their bottle list is sweeter still. My only complaint is the lack of east coast micros. I mean, Toronado seems to be able to get everything else, we can't we get some Bell's, or 3Fs, or Victory? Their pints, on almost everything, range from $3.50-4.50 and a dollar off during happy hour. That's pretty good. Their bottle list, while I looove it, is really expensive. That being said, they do not charge more for their older vintages than they do for the same label of a newer year.

I like to go there to scout for new beers, because Toronado often gets them before any place else... but if I can't make it there directly after work I won't go at all.

clickpush, Aug 08, 2006
Photo of barefootbrewer
4.56/5  rDev +6.5%

What can I say but wow! This bar has the biggest selection of foreign and micro brewed beers I have ever seen. The bar was fun and had a very eclectic crowd – reminded me of some bars in New Orleans.. The bartender was knowledgeable and offered suggestions when asked. I had a Black Prince Porter from the cask. It was the first time I had ever had a cask beer so that impressed me (I’m sure several of you have before).

The only drawback for the bar that I can tell, is that when I was there they didn't serve any type of bar food - but they were happy to let you bring your own in.

Anyway, I won’t go to S.F. again without visiting Toronado!

barefootbrewer, Aug 07, 2006
Photo of babydoc
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%

What an interesting and eclectic place. The cab driver asked me twice if I really wanted to be taken there from my "nice" hotel downtown. When he slowed if front of the place I saw why! Not much to look like on the outside, and parts of the neighborhood would probably keep some from exiting the taxi. But, there we were, and we had to see the Toronado!

The inside is dark and dingy. Not just loud, but noisy. Single row of table and stools down one side, and countless taps along and behind the bar on the other. Off to the left in back were a couple booths and a few tables. On the back wall hung the classic Oldsmobile Toronado logo.

Marvelous selection on tap the nights I was there, and they had each of the selections I asked for. The staff was generously pierced, tattooed, frazzled, gruff, but polite. They had little time for conversation because of the standing-room-only crowd, but answered my questions about brews. Each beer was served in the appropriate glassware, and temps seemed right.

Food is not available, go next door for the great sausages.

Only downside on the busy nights I was there was the raucous noise. I would have preferred the opportunity to more quietly savor some of the rare treats I sampled those nights. I'll certainly go back when I get the opportunity because of their selection.

babydoc, Aug 06, 2006
Photo of flexabull
4.66/5  rDev +8.9%

One of the greatest beer bars. Period.

The staff can be a bit surly, but I guess it's just a part of the experience and atmosphere, plus the place can be jammed packed, so they usually do the best they can.

It's a somewhat dumpy and dark little place, and not in the greatest neighborhood, but it's not that bad. Plus the sausage place next door is great, and the very nice Magnolia Brewery is only a few blocks up the road. It just kind of feels "right", with the worn in feel, and all the beer stuff all over the walls.

They have an excellent beer selection, always tons of local stuff like Russian River, Moonlight, and Bear Republic, not to mention lots of great Belgians.

A must visit for everyone visiting San Francisco. Just remember it's a little rough around the edges, and also... bring cash!

flexabull, Jul 29, 2006
Photo of OStrungT
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%

First off, I just wanted to say that this place is awsome.

It is located ab out a mile from Golden Gate park. It is sort of small. Inside, there is one row of tables along one wall. The bar is on the other wall. In the back, there is a small side room with a few tables. Beer and music stickers are littered all over the walls. There is a jukebox with some good music in it.

The service was great. Each time I was there, the bartenders were very cool. They were talkative when they were not too busy. They were definately knowledgable about beer. They never kept us waiting. Also, they gave us many free or underpriced beers. I think I paid for less than half of the beers I had.

The beer selection was great. They had many locals, and a few imports. They had beers from just about every local place. They had a beer to suit every palate. They probably had more IPA's that any other style. I had a bunch of beers that I have never tried before, and I always like to try something new.

I dont know how this place got any ratings for food though. Maybe they used to serve some, but when I was there, they didnt have any food. There was a sausage place next door that they let you bring in, so most people were eating those. They were great, but not from the Toronado.

This place was very nicely priced. Some of the beers were listed at a slightly high price, but every one I ordered was cheaper. They were hooking me up, but even the first round I ordered was only $3 a pint. Not too bad. I will definately go back the next time I am in San Francisco.

OStrungT, Jul 10, 2006
Photo of SacoDeToro
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

SacoDeToro, Jul 07, 2006
Photo of millhouse
4.88/5  rDev +14%

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.

millhouse, Jun 19, 2006
Photo of benito
2.7/5  rDev -36.9%

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.

benito, Jun 13, 2006
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%

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 Room’s!!! 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 drinker’s destination and should be first on every BAs list of places to go in the Bay Area.

DaPeculierDane, May 12, 2006
Photo of TheLoneGunman
4.88/5  rDev +14%

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!

TheLoneGunman, May 10, 2006
Photo of mickeymac
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%

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.

mickeymac, May 07, 2006
Photo of PuckLSHS
4.36/5  rDev +1.9%

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.

PuckLSHS, Apr 20, 2006
Photo of libertygrails
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%

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.

libertygrails, Apr 19, 2006
Photo of Crosling
5/5  rDev +16.8%

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.

Crosling, Mar 29, 2006
Photo of mghotbi
4.61/5  rDev +7.7%

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.

mghotbi, Mar 29, 2006
Photo of germaniac
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%

Ventured into the Toronado on the second night of the 06 Barleywine Fest. It was understandably packed, since it's not that big of a place to begin with.

Lots of taps, of course. A little patience was required to get to the bar, and the bartenders were rushed and businesslike, but there was none of the asshole factor I 've seen in alot of reviews of this joint.

Lots of friendly folks to be found in all three rooms. My buddy's BA shirt got some attention from the local BA crew, and I got to briefly meet Vinnie of Russian River fame. A couple dudes were about to beat the hell out of each other to see who got to use the bathroom first, and that's really the only bad vibes I got for the couple of hours we hung out.

It's dark, kinda grungy, and really focused on beer. Sort of like me!

germaniac, Feb 25, 2006
Photo of rdrummer
4.94/5  rDev +15.4%

The Toronado was the one beer bar in SF that I was not going to miss after reading about it here. It met all of my expectations. This is not a fancy place. I would not take my mother here, but for the beer lover, this is mecca. I loved the smallness, the beer talk going on, and especially the beer.

There were about 50 beers on tap, with four handpumps. There was a great mix of local microbrews, microbrews from futher away, and imports from Belgium, Germany, and the UK. I didn't see a bad beer on tap. There were probably eight double IPAs on tap from Denogginizer to Double Daddy and Racer X. Great selection. The bartender was quiet but after asking his advice on some CA beers, became much more friendly and willing to talk. He was, of course, very knowledgeable. His recommendations were all on the money.

There is no food at the Toronado, but they allow you to bring in food from any restaurant in the area. There is a great mixture of types of food within a block or two, including the great sausage shop that is next door.

Toronado is a must if you're in San Francisco.

rdrummer, Feb 20, 2006
Photo of bultrey
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%

What else to say about the Toronado? Atmosphere is uniquely good (though not for everyone, and let's face it, kind of dirty), quality and selection blow most places out of the water, and service is gruff, knowledgeable, and friendly once it becomes aware that you fit in. And how do you fit in? Easy. Be yourself. No pretentions. They don't have any. Don't be rude. Show passion and respect for the beer. Don't be a know-it-all turd, because you don't know it all.
Look, I certainly don't "look" the part of a typical Toronado customer, and am aware that I probably more closely resemble on the outside the type of tool that comes in and asks for a Corona. But I went twice in 2004, and then again in late 2005... and the bartender -- after I ordered a couple of the more obscure/better beers on the menu -- remembered me. Got a buy-back on every occaison too. So warm up to the service folks, and they'll warm up to you.
Something to be aware about: their extensive bottle list can be purchased to go, which was very exciting for me as I scored a couple of RR Temptations on my last visit for $14 each to take home to NY. Not awful.
They don't have food, per se, but the sausage place next door serves 'em up quick, hot, and delicious, and might as well have an official business partnership with the bar.
I never go to San Francisco and don't go to Toronado. You shouldn't either.

bultrey, Feb 14, 2006
Photo of xoqx
4.88/5  rDev +14%

This bar is amongst the best I’ve ever visited and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s in the Haight in SF and has a genuine rundown look and feel, is long and skinny, very working-man-ish and has a great beer selection and a great bartender. I’ve been told if you look too yuppified, you’ll have a hard time getting a drink in a timely manner. I found the service to be exceptional. The place was packed and the lone bartender was all over it. They place has a great selection and five beers on a hand pump. They served quite a few pints in brewery glassware. Though there is no food available, there is a great sausage place next door where people get their food and come back to the bar. The walls are decked with years old [authentic] memorabilia including empty growlers and large bottles, innumerable taps, old beer signs and bumperstickers. This place is top notch and should be visited by any beer advocate in SF.

xoqx, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of wlhagan3
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%

Got to stop here while visiting my brother in Bay Area after a ski trip to Lake Tahoe.

A very cool place in the Haight district in S.F. Exactly what I would expect of a great beer bar. Tap handles lining the walls, 30 plus beers on tap, dogs allowed and no BMC products. (I.E. Basically all crafted brewed or import beer.)

I sampled three beers that I cannot get back home in Indy. Two Russian River beers, Blind Pig IPA and Damnation and New Belgium's 2 Below Winter Ale.

Not a huge place. A bar with stools on one side and wall mounted tables on the other, and a small back room with more tables. The place was standing room only at 4:00 pm on a Sunday with people watching an NFL play-off game.

A round of three beers averaged $8-10 with tip. Not bad at all based on the beer choices. No food is served but your are welcome to sneak next door and score a grilled sausage or pizza and bring it in to munch on.

Service was a little slow with one bar tender but she did a good job once you placed an order. Appropriate glassware was used where appropriate. Always a plus.

This place is hard to beat and nothing like places I have back home. And I hear their beer events are pretty killer as well.

wlhagan3, Jan 18, 2006
Photo of rowew
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Quite simply, Toronado is what a beer bar should be. The main room is long and narrow, with the bar and taps dominating one side. One the other side are tables, and I think there are more rooms in the back but I never made it past the bar. Servce was excellent - friendly and knowledgable about the beer they were serving. Many local beers that don't make it out of San Francisco, including a few hand pump offerings. Prices were very reasonable - when I was there it was happy hour so I drank hand-pumped Moonlight for $2.50! No food is available, but they allow outside food, and if you order next door at the sausage place they will yell in the front door when it is ready. Definitely worth the trek if you are in the bay area.

rowew, Dec 13, 2005
Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 384 ratings.