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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 slander
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%

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?

slander, May 21, 2012
Photo of emerge077
4.24/5  rDev -0.9%

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. ;)

emerge077, Oct 09, 2011
Photo of woodychandler
2.94/5  rDev -31.3%

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!

woodychandler, Nov 27, 2009
Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%

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

Billolick, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of DoubleJ
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%

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.

DoubleJ, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
3.46/5  rDev -19.2%

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.

NeroFiddled, Jul 22, 2010
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -6.5%

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.

Sammy, May 29, 2010
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 TurdFurgison
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

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.

TurdFurgison, Oct 20, 2005
Photo of GJ40
4.36/5  rDev +1.9%

Toronado is a truly dedicated beer bar.

Atmosphere - It's fairly small but every square inch exudes commitment to beer. The decor is simple but engrossing with lots of beer related signs, bottles, tap heads and stickers. I stopped in around 10:30 PM on a Thursday night and it was pretty busy. The crowd was young and hip (way too hip for me) but they seemed very easy going.

Quality - Every beer I saw listed was of high quality. They don't seem to waste any taps. I had to go with a Russian River Pliney the Elder because it's not available on the east coast. It was fantastic. I considered adding an Anchor Liberty Ale but I had a long drive back to the hotel so I passed.

Service - It's a busy, loud place so there's not much chit chat with the help but the bartender was very quick and efficient. I was pleased.

Selection - The beer selection is fantastic. They must have had 50+ on tap and all were good. It included a good selection of Belgians and west coast beers along with some worthy east coasters such as Dogfish Head. They have a helpful beer list up on the wall. I liked that it was sorted by brewery although it didn't seem to list everything they actually had.

Value - My Pliney was $4.50/pint. I noticed that Anchor Liberty Ale was $4.00/pint. Those are pretty good prices anywhere; especially SF.

I really enjoyed Toronado and look forward to another visit when I can spend more time and really soak the place in (preferably without having to drive).

GJ40, Aug 29, 2008
Photo of sholland119
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%

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.

sholland119, Apr 10, 2014
Photo of barleywinefiend
2.75/5  rDev -35.7%

My first experience was the bwine festival, like any other festival its a madhouse. However,just because there is a festival does not give the staff a right to be obnoxious. I am not going into details but I was pretty shocked how the servers treated patrons. I've been to some serious beer bars all over the world and even I was in amazement. If you do not have the space or personnel to accomodate the crowd then dont have a festival and dont take it out on those who came to your establishment. Now, one server was excellent and she deserved a Gold Medal.I thought the place would be a little larger but the decor was cool. I liked the bar and seating area around the corner by the bathroom was cool and kind of relaxing(if it were a normal day). Besides the bwine they have about 40-50 taps. Beer selection was not what I expected. Alot of beers I can get anywhere.Lots of other great places to eat and grab a pint as well. Magnolia is down the street and worth a stop in! You can bet I will not recommend this place to anyone nor will I drive 4 hours to get here again. Not knowing Protocol is not an excuse to treat anyone poorly. Protocol should be to get good beer to customers. We keep them in business!
Tipping is not a requirement, especially on bad service. No ATM or Credit. 21st Century?? If this is the best SF has to offer then that is pretty sad. I'll take any Seattle beer bar over this anyday.

barleywinefiend, Oct 31, 2008
Photo of dirtylou
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%

Nothing can really be said about Toronado that hasn't been said in the previous 199 reviews

located in the lower haight - maybe a 10 minute (mostly downhill) walk from the heart of Haight/Ashbury (and Magnolia, Alembic, the Paige, etc)

i visited this place twice in a 3-night visit to SF

unassuming from the outside, small and rustic on the inside. tap selection is detailed on a wooden board hanging from the cieling. i didnt even look at a bottle menu, but i can imagine it had some treats.

where to even begin at this joint? Russian River is an obvious start, but do i want Consecration, Damnation, Pliny, Blind Pig, Salvation, or Publication? Moonlight has some offerings, including the fabled Reality Czech and Death and Taxes. Life & Limb, a few Drake's offerings, a firestone walker, some assorted Port, Lost Abbey, and other things i cant even identify. maybe 50 taps in all - start with Russian River and work backwards

i wont complain about the service. they have surly bartenders - a lot of prime beer joints do. As long as they take my money and trade me a beer for it, i'm not too worried about it

Everything on the board was affordable. nothing over $5 except for some of the belgian stuff

no food - but bring whatever you want in

dirtylou, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of yemenmocha
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%

Perfect place for a pint in San Francisco, especially during the day at happy hour prices.

Atmosphere is casual, with plenty of quality beer memorabilia on the walls. Nice open access to the street for that perfect Northern California breeze to sweep inside.

Selection and prices are hard to beat, ranging from the hard to get West Coast beers to outstanding Belgians. On my visits the beers were served in proper glassware, unlike some other top rated BeerFly places that used the standard 16 oz. pintglass.

yemenmocha, Jul 04, 2008
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%

The Torando is in a lousy location. If you only get asked a handfull of times about alcohol and drugs on the way there you are doing pretty good.

The inside is wooden and dark. The half door keeps the transient population at bay.

The day of my visit there were a couple of dogs running around sniffing crotches inside which detracted from the whole experience. The selection is very good as was the quality and service when I visited, but the place was not busy.

They do not serve food, but the sausage place around the corner is excellent and they let you bring it in. You can park on the curb at a meter, I parked a few blocks away and will not make that mistake again.

GCBrewingCo, Dec 09, 2003
Photo of Bierman9
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

This was the first place I hit up on a brief stay in San Fran recently. The whole Haight area is quite colorful and still quite 60's-ish. And I loved it! Unimposing front with an open half-door is your first look. Dark inside, with both low-lighting and lots of dark colors/wood contributing... It's a long room, front to back, with some stools along the wall at the front right near the window before the bar takes hold and goes to the back. On the left are a half-dozen small tables and chairs.... and there's a further room in the back/left of the place. Lots of typical bier-related bric-a-brac all over (tap handles, brewery banners, etc), plus the left wall has a shelf with dozens of big-ass Duvel bottles. Oh, and the bathroom is a real work of art! Music was a combo of classic rock, grunge, whatever... Had about 25-30 drafts, with some top-shelf CA stuff plus plenty of Belgians left over from Belgian Month. Extensive bottle list, too, with some rare finds (though the bottles get pricey). Drafts were typically $3.50, but happy hour knocked off a buck. Super! Bartender was quietly efficient, with no surliness to be found. Amusingly, I found him to look like the Mexican/Alien at the start of Men in Black that Tommy Lee Jones uncovers. Only had 2 biers here, in the company of axisjones, and found them yummy. As per earlier suggestions, I scored a tasty sausage sub next door and downed it with my bier at the Toro. Would love to return some day....

Prosit!!

overall: 4.50
atmosphere: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: n/a | $

111

Bierman9, May 31, 2005
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 aoampm
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

aoampm, Sep 10, 2014
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.43/5  rDev +3.5%

Even though Toronado has global fame now, it's still very much a local. At least for the bar side. It's always funny to me when I walk in and see residents at the bar and tourists and the like on the tables to the left. I've never had an issue ordering here. I just focus on the menu on the wall as I enter and start choosing. Well worth the visit, even though this is certainly no well kept secret.

RblWthACoz, Aug 30, 2012
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 beerwolf77
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%

Another must stop while in town. We were a bit shocked at how full on dive bar this place was but not bothered by it. We hit dives all the time back home so we felt right at home. Grungy and dark. Graffiti lined walls in the bathroom. There was even a guy with a dog drinking at the bar. Just like Milwaukee dives. The selection was out of this world. Not to mention the cable car. We ended up staying for about 4 hours and enjoyed every minute of it. The beers were flowing freely and the bartender was awesome. I never saw the bottom of my glass the entire night. So glad I got to check this legendary joint.

beerwolf77, Jan 04, 2012
Photo of BillRoth
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

BillRoth, Feb 09, 2014
Photo of Hibernator
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%

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.

Hibernator, Mar 26, 2014
Photo of corby112
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%

Stopped by here on a recent trip to the Bay Area. This place has a quite a reputation so I was curious to see if it lived up to it.

This bar is very dark even in the middle of a sunny afternoon with a lot of cool old tap handles all of the walls and ceiling. There's also a ledge above the seating are that's lined up with old magnums collecting dust. The bar is pretty long and the tap list is prominent displayed in the middle of the room and is broken down by brewery. The have a really good jukebox with lots of metal, punk, rockabilly and classic rock.

A lot has been mentioned about the service at this place, most of it extremely negative. I was there in the afternoon and there was only one person working behind the bar. I'm not sure if they serve food and I didn't see a server. The best way for me to describe the service was average. The bartender spent most of the time that I was there talking to a guy at the other end of the bar. He did however go to find a bottle list for me when asked and made sure I had a drink at all times. The place was fairly crowded but the bartender seem to take care of everyone without a problem.

The biggest draw of this place is it's legendary selection. To be honest I was a bit disappointed based on the incredible hype. They had a good number of taps but most of them are available at other bars I visited in the area or here in Philadelphia. They did have four casks which is always a plus and three or four Moonlight Brewing Co. beers on tap which was awesome. Other highlights were Pliny, New Belgium, Grand Teton Howling Wolf and Consecration. They also had a good selection of Belgian beers. Their bottle list was impressive but many of the rarities are available in local bottle shops for about half the price. They did have Malheur Dark Brute Michael Jackson edition and FW13 but each were$45+! The coolest selection was Cable Car and for only $40 it's a steal but it was only available for on site consumption.

Overall this place was pretty cool but fell just short of my insane expectations. I would definitely go back anytime I'm in the area. Recommended.

corby112, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of Floydster
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%

I went to San Francisco for a day trip with my girflriend and her family and this was hands down the highlight of my experience, the atmosphere does not get any cooler, they have a sweet old jukebox, old run down and just flat out awesome, everything is clean and it is in a cool part of town on lower Haight, service was great and even though the employees come off a little rough, they are really cool once you start talking to them, slection of taps was unbelievable, not even mentioning the five and half hour happy hour starting at 11:30 am, I got spoiled by being there on Lost Abbey night, so I got to drink Cable Car for four dollars a glass from the tap, pretty ridiculous and I lost track of how many I even had, I did drink two other beers and they were New Beglium's sour they brewed specifically for them and Moonlight Twist of Fate on cask, both were amazing, wish they still had food but you cannot have it all, bottle list was great too with Russian River 20th Anniversary for sale along with Beatification, Supplication, and Temptation, also some Bottleworks stuff on there as well as some very hard to find Cantillons, the place was so inexpensive and with exception of two taps, everything was four dollars or less, other draft beers that stood out when I was there were Bear Republic Black Mamba, Speakeasy Hunters Porter, Firestone Little Opal Saison, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Lost Abbey Witch's Wit, and Port Brewing's 2nd Anniversary Double IPA, this place is beer paradise and is a must stop, I know I will be going back every single chance I get

Floydster, Aug 23, 2008
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Toronado in San Francisco, CA
95 out of 100 based on 388 ratings.