Ratings: 375 | Reviews: 299 | Display Reviews Only:
4.3/5 rDev +0.7%
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?
05-21-2012 15:59:37 | More by slander
4.24/5 rDev -0.7%
Visited this venerable bay area beer bar recently, and came away impressed. Once through the swinging dutch door, we noticed a few similarities to Chicago's Map Room that made us feel at home. It was late evening mid-week and pretty packed when we arrived, standing room only. Noticed the many rows of tap handles and vintage bottles decorating the back walls, and the pair of Duvel lanterns above a back doorway leading to a second alcove of seating. The place was worn in, showing its age in a cozy way.
Bar service was good, it was busy so we waited for a bit before getting a beer. Planning to return to check out the bottle list (will revise eventually), had to "settle" for a great $4 local pint, High Water Hop Riot. Tap selection was varied among craft/import/styles, drafts were very affordable/quickly rotating too, much like the Map Room, but Toronado is certainly in a class all it's own.
Deserving of their revered status, a pioneering bastion for beer geeks and everybody else too I guess. ;)
10-09-2011 01:37:17 | More by emerge077
2.94/5 rDev -31.1%
It may have been a rainy night, it may have been chilly but I simply HATE being jammed into a narrow, poorly, marked space. They hold a popular barley wine festival here?!? Effin' pass! Prices were reasonable, but the crowd was horrible. Over 52 taps, a wide mix of US and Belgian. Tap handles and spent BTs ran the length of both walls from the Dutch Doors. Service: I've had better in Manhattan after I've just announced that the Yankees suck and the Mets swallow. In other words - horrible. Do you understand how insulting it is to slam a beer down in front of a patron? For this I made an effort? Shite Suc-1; Ambiance-1; Selection-4.5.
Price: $$ beyond that: Das is schiess!
11-27-2009 13:48:41 | More by woodychandler
4.1/5 rDev -4%
What can be added about this high quality, high athmosphere beer dive as another reviewer called it?
Easy to miss, we drove by it at least 2 times, its thankfully not on Haight in the area where all the head shops and tourists are.
Expect a dark and dingy joint, moderate in size, with a friendly and spirited crowd. Also expect draft selections that will make you very happy...west coast centric and Russian River infused....I'd try to get there during quiter times of the week as peek times will be loud and crowded..unless you are into that sort of thing
08-04-2011 15:48:28 | More by Billolick
4.6/5 rDev +7.7%
Two words, happy hour. I killed time by driving around west San Francisco just so I could walk in at 3pm and get of those famous $3 pints. After the quest of finding parking a block away, I walked towards Toronado. There was already a little bit of crowd, by that I mean most of the seats in the bar area were occupied, but I found a sport to sit at towards the far end. On older crowd in general, mixed with some younger folks like I. Huge beer bottles line up the wall opposite of the bar. There was another part of Toronado which I didn't venutre into.
No shortage of quality beer being poured. The draft selection is a very good mix of styles. I saw some Radelberger, Bear Republic, Abyss and Jubel from Deschutes, Abacus, Midnight Sun, Bocker, Moonlight, High Water, Russian River, and Iron Springs among the excellent tap selection. I didn't look at the bottle selection, but I did see some Duvel Triple Hop being pulled out (with three Duvel glasses). And if that isn't enough, there are four beers on cask.
Lots of different glassware was available, from tiny flute glasses to Orval chalices. The pours are made beautifully, the glass wiped of any beer sticking to it before being served.
Prices are in a world of their own. Already most of the taps are $4-5 a pour, but during happy happy hour take $1 off. I started with a pint of Moonlight's Death and Taxes. Afterwards, I was tempted to order a Pliny the Elder (one of the beer urban legends going around is that Pliny tastes best at Toronado, and only $3 a pint during happy hour), but I switches gears towards a Cuvée des Jacobins.
I was worried that I would have to put up a dump of a place and bad service at Toronado, but I am happy to report that I didn't enocunter any of that. Toronado is well worthy of its accolades as a beer establishment. There is one more thing I must do when I inevitably return; order one of those gourment sausages from next door and devour it amist some awesome bees.
04-04-2011 16:59:45 | More by DoubleJ
3.46/5 rDev -19%
What's to be said about Toronado that hasn't already been said? The bartender was inhospitable and uninformed - totally the opposite of the San Diego location, but it's still a very cool venue with great taps in a great area that's really relaxed. I walked all the way from the Embarcadero to get there and I felt it was totally worth the trip. Add to that that it's located close to a few other stops and it's pretty much a "must do" when visiting San Fran. Worth a shot. Also note that it's not that far from Gestalt, The Monk's Kettle, and Pi.
07-22-2010 05:13:52 | More by NeroFiddled
4/5 rDev -6.3%
Very good selection of taps, with Belgians Ihave had time and time before, but California taps I do not see in the East, noteabl Moonlight. A long bar, seveal tables, not all that big, parking can be found. The one bartender, mid aft or so, fairly full with locals. Beer served right, though very slightly too cold. Reasonable prices. A good stopping place, but just one of a bunch of very good San Francisco bars. Atmosphere friendlieness good, as it is in the city. A very decent bar that many cities do not have, but a little overated.
05-28-2010 23:22:41 | More by Sammy
5/5 rDev +17.1%
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.
01-31-2009 04:21:02 | More by John_M
4.25/5 rDev -0.5%
I finally made it to Toronado's. I entered with expectations, some met and some not met.
First off, the atmosphere was kind of dirty, and smelled of vomit slightly (this on a Sunday afternoon).
But the selection, quality, and price of the beers makes up for this in general. All drafts were served at $2.75! And it's mostly top-shelf: I had Pliny the Elder, La Folie, and Denogginizer. There were about 50 taps to choose from, and 30 were no-brainer good choices.
In addition there was an extensive list of bottled beer. You can comfortably stay away from these, as they're more expensive than the drafts.
There is no food, but you can bring in sausage from next door. I had duck sausage with figs for $4.
Definitely recommended if in the Bay area.
10-20-2005 13:41:31 | More by TurdFurgison
4.48/5 rDev +4.9%
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.
04-10-2014 00:31:45 | More by sholland119
Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 375 ratings.