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Toronado

Not Rated.
ToronadoToronado
BA SCORE
95
world-class

388 Ratings
Ratings: 388
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: 388 | Reviews: 302 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mike312
5/5  rDev +16.8%

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

mike312, Aug 28, 2014
Photo of mac8113
5/5  rDev +16.8%

mac8113, Apr 01, 2014
Photo of HogHill
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Visted the Toronado just as the Barleywine fest was coming to an end. We arrived one overcast Saturday just as it opened. The bartender was a real nice guy (young guy with chops), who let us sample a bunch of different offerings and filled us in on the other good beer related stops in SF, great service and very personable.

Talking to my friend who recently went to Toronado and reading the other reviews here, it seems like the service we had was contrary to what most others had experienced.

They had a ton of great beers on tap and their bottle list was phenomenal as well. I got to try many of the beers that aren't disto'd out here in Mass like Russian River's Pliny the Elder & Damnation. They had a nice Belgian offering with all the official glassware which is always nice. I started with a Hoegaarden and moved to Dupont's Avec les Bons Voeux which was on tap, and then finally a Westy 12 (had to finally try this). Just an awesome selection of beer and the fact that it was a $1 off drafts untill 6pm was super too.
They let you bring in food from the pizzaria and burrito shops near by, which was cool.

We came back a few days later, the atmosphere was a bit different since it was on a Monday evening where people were getting out of work and it was a bit busier but still a comfortable environment.

In San Fran visiting? This place is not to be missed! If you're a local, then you're a very fortunate BA.

HogHill, Apr 08, 2005
Photo of Denali
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Ahhh... the Toronado. I just moved out to Santa Clara in late October 2005 and first went to the Toronado on 10/29/05. I have been back 6 times since, even though its about a two hour trip each way.

Totally worth the trip. Not even considering the beer, this is by far the greatest bar I have ever been to. The patrons are the coolest ever - EVERY time I go alone I end up talking all night with people I have never met, often times even sharing a table with them. And its sooo easy for that to happen. I have had that happen for me from time to time at certain bars, but not with the consistency of the Toronado. And the bartenders are awesome. From square one they were incredibly friendly to me and treated me like I had been coming there forever, no matter whether its super crowded or not. The stuff about there being lousy service at the Toronado is bullshit. The Toronado is so cool that many of the bartenders hang out there on their days off, just sitting at the bar like anyone else.

With regard to the beer, suffice it to say that the Toronado is awesome. Many local breweries on draft including Moonlight, Bear Republic, Russian River, and Drake's. Bottle list contains primarily Belgians and is also excellent.

As for the food, even though technically they don't serve any, they allow people to bring in their own. There are plenty of excellent restaurants within walking distance. They are right next door to Mythic Pizza and Rosamunde Sausage, and both are outstanding. Mythic Pizza has NY style Pizza slices too. Because of the incredible convenience, I therefore consider Toronado food to be 5/5, even though Toronado doesn't serve the food themselves.

Go to the Toronado...now.

Denali, Nov 16, 2005
Photo of mzwolinski
5/5  rDev +16.8%

This is a terrific bar. I was really excited to go once I looked at their web site -- 46 beers on tap, 3 of them cask-conditioned, and all of them exceptionally well-chosen. There's also a substantial list of bottled beer, including a few collectable (and expensive) selections. I envy the SF residents who get to attend the many beer-related events at the bar. Just this month I see a tasting with Allagash and a wonderful looking Belgian beer dinner. The atmosphere was surprising -- about half the crowd has lots of body piercings and tattoos, and the other half are very obviously beer geeks. Not much in between. The barkeep was friendly and knew alot about the beer. Great happy hour prices in the afternoon. There's really not much to complain about here! An absolute must-visit should you find yourself in the city by the bay.

mzwolinski, Apr 07, 2003
Photo of Zkscharf
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Zkscharf, Dec 03, 2013
Photo of AlexM
5/5  rDev +16.8%

AlexM, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of Halfbrother83
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Halfbrother83, Jun 25, 2014
Photo of Mykol
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Mykol, Mar 31, 2014
Photo of mc4z
5/5  rDev +16.8%

mc4z, Jan 20, 2014
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 TNeedles
5/5  rDev +16.8%

TNeedles, Aug 21, 2014
Photo of KevSal
5/5  rDev +16.8%

where the hell else can you get a salvation for 3 bucks? seriously, this is the best place to grab a beer. the food is an A++ because you got a killer hot dog spot next door that delivers to the bar and a badass bbq place across the street.

the selection is some of the best of the world, when this place is hot its hot. i come here for lunch a lot and reak the benefits of "leftover beers" all the time. this week is great because of all the beerweek brews that didnt tap out.

it can get crowded at events but even when you avoid the big events you can always catch something great no matter what time you come by.

heard a lot about the service, honestly its always been top notch for me. come in with rough skin if your the sensitive type. last week i got shit for my camo sweater than i was poured a damnation 23 (2007) on the house, and given a freakin slice of pizza. all the people here are really great and are full of some pretty great stories as well. (stories involving tomme and vinnie take the cake)

cant say enough about this place

KevSal, Feb 24, 2011
Photo of bboven
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Wow. This place is what I hope heaven is like. Dark but not dreary with a collage of decor covering every inch of open wall. It seemed like there were at least a hundred very local beers available. There were ridiculously rare beers available; I had a cask conditioned Anchor Porter for crying out loud! I think it cost all of $3. It's small and cozy, they only take cash, and did I mention that they have tons of unique beers available? There were multiple cask ales and a staff that was busy but friendly and immersed in the beer they served. You have to come here if you only get to one place in San Fransisco. And get a DD or cab, because you'll be there for a while.

bboven, Nov 04, 2007
Photo of BigDaddy79
5/5  rDev +16.8%

BigDaddy79, Apr 12, 2014
Photo of Thrashsquatch
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Thrashsquatch, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of John_M
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Visited the Toronado today... clearly the dive bar to end all dive bars.

The smallish Toronado beer bar is located in the lower Haight and fits in well with the other smoke shops, hair salons and cafes in the area. Given the fame of the Toronado, I guess I can see where one might come here with certain preconceived expectations. The place, of course, is a complete dive/dump, with bumper stickers, signs, cartoons and paraphenelia plastered every where. If that's not enough to convey the proper vibe, the day I was there the background music consisted of blaring metal music and later ZZ Top. Although I don't think there is anything dirty about the Toronado, the place just exudes a certain seediness. The patrons fit in perfectly with the neighborhood, and run the gamut from beer advocate beer geeks to skid row bums that can barely remember their own name. It just doesn't get any better then this.

The day I was here there was something like 40 beers on tap and the quality level was just off the charts. Three beers from RR (Pliny, Blind Pig and the porter), three beers from Schneider (Aventinus, Weisse and edel weisse), a couple of beers from Drake, Green Flash, Anchor and Speakeasy. There were also a couple of lambics, 5 or 6 Belgian trippels, dubbels and strong ales, and a few German beers for good measure.... and that's just what I can remember.

Pricing here is interesting and I assume represents market price for everything. Some of the Belgians and Barleywines struck me as expensive, but then pints of Blind Pig and Pliny were $4.50, while my 12 ounce tulip glass of Drake's imperial stout and DIPA cost just $3.50 ($4.50 for a pint). The guy next to me purchased a .5 liter of a German pilsner that cost just $3. Go figure. At the end of the day, I have to call the pricing here pretty reasonable.

A number of folks who have reviewed the Toronado have criticized the service here. Maybe they were here on an off night or something else was wrong, because I don't get it. The afternoon I was there I think there were some 20 patrons in attendance, with just the one bartender to handle the crowd. He was quick and efficient, and I never had to wait even a minute for a beer. While he didn't try to come off as my new best friend, he was pleasant enough and happy to answer any question I had. Given the crowd, I can see where he might get pissed pretty quick if you were slow to make up your mind or otherwise wasted his time. Still, considering the crowd, and considering the condition of some of the patrons sitting at the bar (who clearly were somewhat the worse for wear), I was impressed.

The Toronado is as close to perfection as I ever need to get. I'll be back every time and any time I'm in SF.

Edit from recent visit on 8/30/12. Nothing to add, except that if I could increase my score I would. Bartender (Stewert) was easily the most knowledgeable bartender I've ever run into (my jaw dropped when I heard him telling another patron about the maiden the shade beer on tap, and Ninkasi in general). He was also quick, friendly and a good conversationalist... he bought my last beer of Aventinus (he told me it was his right as a bartender when I tried to refuse... so I dumped some cash as a tip, which I told him was my right as a customer. He laughed and we smacked knuckles). I'll say no more, except.... I LOVE the Toronado!!!

Also got a sausage sandwich from the place next door (the Toronado has some arrangement with them, where you can just leave your sandwich basket from next door and the staff will take care of it). The sandwich was good, no doubt, but it wasn't exactly a culinary, life altering experience either. Still, it's nice to have the option of a bite to eat while having a beer or three.

John_M, Jan 31, 2009
Photo of mpalm118
5/5  rDev +16.8%

mpalm118, Sep 01, 2014
Photo of atrachtenberg
5/5  rDev +16.8%

atrachtenberg, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of Lothore
5/5  rDev +16.8%

A- This seems to me to be the perfect bar in my mind. Awesome, dive type atmosphere, cool dogs roaming around, just an all around awesome vibe.

Q- Correct glassware, nice serving temp perfect in my book.

S- Quick service, and the bartender was super nice and very friendly.

S- A phenomenal selection of beers on tap ( When you have beers like Pliny the Younger, Blind Pig, Reality Czeck, the Abyss etc. on tap simultaneously you mush be doing something right.) Big bottle list as well. My only complaint was that they had every size of long sleeve shirt except medium and they have a pretty awesome shirt I wanted to buy, oh well, next time.

Lothore, Feb 02, 2008
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
Photo of mattmarka1
5/5  rDev +16.8%

mattmarka1, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of ubiq3000
5/5  rDev +16.8%

ubiq3000, Aug 20, 2014
Photo of francisweizen
5/5  rDev +16.8%

This place is probably my favorite beer bar in the US, if not the world. Atmosphere is awesome. Lower haight all the way. Grungy and funky, and all things cool. Tons of breweriana and stickers of all sorts. Quality of the beers here is perfect. They really take care of their brews, and bartenders at other bars in the city, like Zeitgeist, even mentioned that this is the place to go. Service for me has been perfect. I've gone on three ocassions already and I have had three very unique, interesting bartenders, who were quick to chat and fill up my pint. Selection is incredible. tons of Belgians still, as last month was Belgian beer month, and they also have tons of local brews as well. 2 moonlights, 2 russian rivers, 2 pizza ports, 4 casks. Yowza. No food, but there are tons of kick ass options locally, and you can bring your viddles in and chow down all the way. Prices are dirt cheap for this area, or anywhere in the world. $10 for three pints and a nice tip. Sold. Truly awesome, and wonderful. Only in San Francisco.

francisweizen, May 03, 2005
Photo of pjbfromkc
5/5  rDev +16.8%

pjbfromkc, Oct 14, 2014
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Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 388 ratings.