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Toronado

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ToronadoToronado
BA SCORE
4.29/5
Outstanding
488 Ratings
ToronadoToronado
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Beer-to-go

547 Haight St
San Francisco, California, 94117-3406
United States

(415) 863-2276 | map
toronado.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate

PLACE STATS
Reviews:
332
Ratings:
488
pDev:
13.29%
 
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 488 |  Reviews: 332
Photo of mjl21
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Looking at my BeerFly list I just realized I haven't reviewed the Toronado. It is time to fix that. It is located in the Lower Haight, a very diverse area full of lots of random shops and cheap restaurants. For those driving to the T, there is metered street parking. The side streets have two hour limits, but those are not enforced on weekends. For those hitting it up via public transit, search www.511.org or www.beerbybart.com.

Once you have walked through the signature door, the fabled beer board is hanging right in the middle of the room. The long bar is to your right. There around 16 stools available at the bar. I recommend getting a stool that is closer to the door so you can view the big beer board. Along the side of the room are 6 four tops. There is also another room in the back left part of the building and they have another room they open for special events. As others have mentioned, it is cash only, but they do have an ATM. They also have a jukebox with a really good selection of punk and classic rock. There is also a flatscreen tv above the bar.

The selection is as good as advertised. Last time there I counted 47 taps and 4 cask offerings. The selection is diverse and full of good stuff and is always changing. For fans of Euro offerings, they typically have Duvel Green, a few Maredous offerings, Chimay White, and four Schneider beers. The domestic stuff is mainly comprised of local beers. They almost always have RR Damnation, PTE, and BP; 3-4 Moonlight offerings; 2-3 Anchor offerings; Racer 5; and Deschutes Green Lakes. They routinely have new stuff from Marin, Speakeasy, Drake's, Port/Lost Abbey, Kern River, DFH, El Toro, Iron Springs, and a whole lot more. Prices are very reasonable and they knock a buck off of each beer during happy hour.

The service has always been the biggest gripe for people who are visiting. I have found that if you can, skip this place entirely at night. During weekday afternoons it is full of regulars and the bartenders are quick to get a drink.

You can also bring in food from the many nearby restaurants. Rosamunde makes great sausages and a lot of people opt to bring in food from them. There is cheap BBQ, Indian, pizza, bagels, and Middle Eastern within easy walking distance.

This place is a must if you are visiting SF. They move a lot of beer and keep the tap lines clean. They care deeply about good beer and do a great job of getting the best available product.

As mentioned earlier, do try and go during a weekday afternoon if you really want to enjoy the T.

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Photo of nickd717
4.16/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

What can I say that hasn't already been said? The Toronado is a great beer bar. From fresh Pliny the Elder to semi-rare Belgian bottles, you can get it here. There are probably about 40 taps and 100+ bottles if I had to guess.

Bottle prices are pretty reasonable for a bar, with markups often only 25% or so over store prices. You can get many bottles to go, and can often find rarities there after they've disappeared from other local stores.

The service is a bit questionable at times and can appear rude, but sometimes you've got to admire the staff's no bullshit approach.

The place gets a little crowded, especially on weekend nights, and it can take awhile to get a drink and/or seat.

Toronado hosts lots of great events, from the annual Barleywine fest to the anniversary party where if you're lucky you can score bottled rarities like Cable Car (albeit overpriced). Their beer dinners are also amazing but can also often be overpriced.

Also, don't forget about Rosamunde's sausages next door. They are awesome and you can bring them into the bar to enjoy with your beer.

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Photo of peterjk
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I miss living in the bay area. They last time I visited I just missed Toronado's anniversary but still was able to go there four times.

This place has a wonderful locals / dive bar feel to it, you would not guess they are beer only let alone the quality and variety of beer by peeking inside.

The number of taps is not overwhelming but they keep them stocked with the cream of the crop, one of the better selections of Belgian on tap anywhere that I've been.

I must say that I enjoy Toronado most on the off days and off hours. At other times it can get really really loud and very crowded, worth it if your there for barely wine fest or the opening of Belgian beer month but not so much on a regular Friday.

To me it seems odd to be enjoying a $9 glass of beer that's only on tap in say 5 other places in the world but needing to yell loudly just to be heard.

I'm still not sure why they don't open up the "special" events room on weekends, seems like it would cut down the density of the crowd.

The sausage place next door is one of the best places to eat in SF, freshly made tasty sausages often with specials made just for events at Toronado.

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Photo of koopa
3.89/5  rDev -9.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5

Taking my first trip to the Toronado has been a plan in the making for quite some time. So as my 30th birthday drew nearer, I decided to make it happen.

Atmosphere: Loud rock / punk / metal music that makes it difficult for a slightly deaf drummer like me to hear anybody I attempt to converse with. The walls are lined with a combination of tap handles, stickers, and assorted pictures. I like the "Cash Only" picture of Johnny Cash myself. A long bar goes down the right side of the place while a line of tables goes down the left side. There is also a second room to the left that offers about 10 more tables and a flat panel TV.

Quality: The bottle list was not very impressive and quite overpriced. Mostly just good west coast offerings....nothing they had to try too hard to have on hand. Now mind you I was told that "Dave is on vacation this weekend and we don't really bring out the real rarities without him around" which might have been a line of crap I suspect. The tap list was a great assortment of west coast selections but still no more than a couple "world class" selections IMHO. But kegs on tap and bottles available change over time and I know this place has an impeccable reputation for the quality of their offerings so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Service: If you have your sh*t together, the service is ok. If you delay the bartender in any way, he will walk away from you without saying a word and help somebody else. Well ok, sometimes you will here him say a word as he is walking away but it will be a negative word aimed at you!!!! Now I didn't run into this problem, but I saw several people receive this treatment throughout the weekend. Trust me I understand both sides...the staff doesn't want to enable patrons to be time wasting idiots. I get that. But the staff needs to realize that they are a part of the experience at the bar, and that they shouldn't rely so heavily on the Toronado's "institution status" and use it as a reason to justify giving poor service to customers. It should be noted that I only witnessed the young bartenders doing this to people. Steve on the other hand was nicer, albeit mopey and lethargic.

Selection: Again I'll give them credit for the tap list and for some solid bottles, but they still didn't have many selections that I haven't had already. I didn't find the gems I was after and I found myself ordering Pliny multiple times which goes to show that I ran out of things I was interested in ordering.

Food: none available but the sausage place next door is good and you can bring the baskets of food they serve you into the Toronado.

A great bar indeed but no longer on my minds pedestal in any way whatsoever.

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Photo of timtim
4.33/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

bring your own food, cash and willingness to scream to be heard, and toronado is epic for a beer geek. the funk and mannerisms that one may not be used to are all a part of the whole experience. go to toronado. love it. stop whining. last time i was there was 2:30pm on a tuesday afternoon. it was crowded, jimi hendrix was blaring, i had homemade sausages from down the street, and pliny was around $4 a pint. sick. been loving it for years and will continue. i guess it's not for the faint at heart.

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Photo of antilogic
3.05/5  rDev -28.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 4

My first time to Toronado, after hearing so much about it. GREAT selection and a fun bar that I would be happy to NEVER return to again. A few main points:

1) Why is being rude to customers "their thing"? Yes they have great beer, but they can have great beer and not have douche-bag bartenders, can't they? I've been to some of the other top beer bars in the world (per BeerAdvocate), and they all have fantastic, friendly service.

2) This is 2009, not 1970. Sure cash reduces overhead by a few percent, but it reduces gross (people don't always have as much cash as they will purchase), and it's inconvenient for customers. Toronado needs to get with the times.

3) No food and Bad Parking

I had Moonlight Reality Czeck, and Death & Taxes. Good stuff. However, all I will take from the experience is washed out by my negative opinion of the bartenders.

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Photo of callmescraps
4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Finally stopped by the famous Toronado while I was in town on business. It was fairly jumping for 2:30 on a Friday, but I still almost walked right past it.

Atmosphere - It was very laid back but lively when I was there. A good crowd of folks who really seemed into beer. Struck up conversations with nice people. Everyone was having a good time and chatting, very mellow. I do have to say that it's a dingy, dirty kind of joint. A solid layer of filth on everything. I don't personally have a problem with that, and thought it contributed to the atmosphere. But some folks might think it's downright nasty, and I couldn't really argue with that.

Quality - The beers on were very good. Not a bum one in the bunch.

Service - Friendly and efficient. When the glass was empty I promptly got a new one.

Selection - Very good bottle selection, good taps. Lots of local stuff, which was great. I was just slightly disappointed because I was hoping to find more stuff that I don't see around pretty regularly.

Price - Fantastic, frankly. Most drinks were $3, and the most expensive I think was $5. Checked the bottle prices and they were totally bar-reasonable.

This is a great, mellow spot, at least during the day. It's small, so I can see it getting over-crowded easily. It's sort of reached epic status, which is surprising once you've been there. It seems like a great neighborhood joint with a very good selection. I'll stop in when I'm in the area, certainly, but the amount of hubbub surrounding the place is surprising.

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Photo of photomike
3.8/5  rDev -11.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Let me preface this review by saying that while I know this score isn't going to come out super high grades wise, I love this bar and would spend every night drinking here if I could.

The atmosphere is generally good, but can be obnoxious at time. The music is usually very loud, but often quite good, and everyone seems pretty happy to be sitting in one of the most respected beer bars in the world. The walls are covered in beer memorabilia and tap handles, and everything feels a bit grungy. The bathrooms are dirty and covered in graffiti and locals know of a smell called the "toronado funk." For all its imperfections, though, this place has charm. At the Toronado, you are always in the presence of beer lovers.

General quality is high. The beers are always poured well and the taps are well-maintained. That said, the place is pretty poorly laid out, and when it gets crowded (as it very often does) this can be somewhat of a problem. The narrow entrance fills with people and you usually have to squeeze to get to the back room, where you will be lucky to get a table. Also, as I'm sure has been mentioned hundreds of times in here, the bar is cash only.

The service is where the Toronado really lacks. Put bluntly, the bartenders can be jerks. They are no-fuss kinda guys that expect you to know what you want and have cash in hand to pay them for it. If its crowded, and you are unsure of your order when the bartenders approach, get to the back of the line, mister. On the few times I've been in there when it isn't crowded, they are alright guys, but most times, its alll business.

Their beer selection is unparalleled. There are always more good taps on any given night than I can drink in one session. That's the only complaint I got. Usually about 70% American craft stuff, some Belgian, some German. Almost always 3-5 taps from Russian River and two from Moonlight. Great, great, stuff. This is what makes the Toronado so amazing.

You might be wondering, 4.5 for food? Mike, you can't BUY any food there! Well, look at it this way. You can bring whatever you want into the Toro to eat, and you are surrounded by good, cheap food. Between Rosamunde's (legendary) sausages next door (where they ask you, "for here, to go, or next door"), Ali Baba's Cove a couple doors down (great lamb/beef shawerma) and all the other restaurants around, your hunger will be satisfied, and for dirt cheap prices.

Speaking of cheap stuff, Toronados taps are usually great prices as well. $3 pints of Pliny at happy hour. I dare you to beat that.

All said, the Toronado rules. Just know the unwritten rules and bring cash.

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Photo of bret27
4.08/5  rDev -4.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

This is kind of an institution. When you're a beer bar that breweries make some of the best beer in the world for your anniversary you know you're good.

The beer selection of course is world class. When I was there recently they had to name a few, a BW and lambic from FW, Speedway stout, few selections from Lost Abbey including Cable car, Temptation, pliny, mortification, and hopfather from RR, and several from Moonlight Brewing.

The only bad thing about this place is the snooty/rude service at times. I was recently there at the 22nd anniversary party. I had no problems w/my 'down and dirty cash only attitude' but you get that vibe of the customers as being day laborers during the depression and the bartenders thinking they are choosing the best, and have the god-given right to do so. I'm sure its a bit better on an average slower night, and will go back.

Just depends on how you weight service and amazing beer.

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Photo of gabeerfan
4.71/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

If I was into beer when I lived in S.F., I would have lived at this place.
The decor is dive-bar and the clientele can make it seem maybe a little feaux-dive. But once you get to the restroom, you realize that this is a dive bar.
Service was great. We sat at the bar and were well taken care of by our bartender when we explained we were beer geeks from Georgia. He gave us well-thought out recommendations and let us sample a couple of beers. He shared a couple of toasts with us and introduced us to a fellow BA'er who we chatted with the rest of the evening.
The draft list was extensive, with very few things on the list that we can get in GA. My wife opted for a couple Moonlight brews which has a very limited distribution. While I enjoyed a Russian River Damnation and an Alpine Nelson.
No food served in the bar, but there is food immediately around the area, but later in the evening, it can get a little more difficult to find food nearby.
I guess proximity to such good breweries reflects in the pricing. Everything was less than what I'm used to paying in Atlanta for more commonly available beers.
If you are in S.F., this is a must stop.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.94/5  rDev +15.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I recently flew to San Francisco to attend the Toronado 22nd Anniversary Party and pick up a few bottles of Cable Car. Stopped in three consecutive days, just to see what it was like when it wasn't a madhouse.

Atmosphere - It's dive-bar chic. This place ain't gonna win any beauty pageants, and the washrooms are used at one's one risk. That being said, it's full of a ridiculous amount of breweriana, an inexpensive jukebox full of good tunes, retro cash registers (that don't go past $99), and an old-school board listing the brews on tap. Seating consists of the bar, a few four-person tables along the wall, and a small room near the back with a few tables. They opened up an auxiliary room for the big party where there was free food, but that's not typical.

Quality - There aren't too many bad brews to be found on the tap or bottle list. Obviously there aren't any macros to be found within shooting distance of the place (and I really get the sense that if you walked in with a Coors you'd be shot on sight). No discernible off-flavors from the tap lines, bottles are cellared appropriately, etc. This is about the last place you'd be worried about the staff mistreating your brew.

Service - Wow! I know that sometimes these guys get a bad rap, but if you're a serious beer-lover they will treat you right. Basically they have license to be assholes back to customers who are assholes. I heard all kinds of people bitching and moaning that the bartender wouldn't sell them Cable Car or took too long to serve them - if the bartenders know you, they will sell you the beers you want and look after you. I don't think I ever had to wait more than a few minutes to get a drink, even during the insanity of the 22nd Anniversary Party. The staff was always happy to pour samples and answer questions. My wife even got the mutton-chop bartender to crack a smile (briefly). Alene, Stuart (sp?), Dave, Princess - you guys made it an amazing weekend.

Selection - Putting aside the utter ridiculousness of quadruple-fisting Humulus Lager, Cable Car, Abacus, and Nelson, this bar has a seriously awesome selection 7 days a week. There are session beers galore (Moonlight lagers, RR Blind Pig), local stuff I've never heard of like Marin Star Brew, old favorites like Pliny the Elder, oddball offerings like Mortification, plenty of solid Belgian and German brews, etc., etc. The selection is well thought out, with a plethora of styles and options. The bottle list is up-to-date, with harder to find offerings like Hommage and Sang Royal. I don't think any single worthy brew available to them sneaks by - you can pretty much count on it showing up at some point.

Value - Compared to Chicago the tap prices are ridiculous. $4 for Death & Taxes ($3 during happy hour or on Saturdays)!? Cable Car was the priciest at $5. The bottle list doesn't show the same punishing markup that other SF bars do - things were about 50% more than store price. Glasses are always filled to the brim - no short pours here.

If you love beer visiting this place is as crucial as visiting Kulminator or Akkurat.

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Photo of alfrantzell
4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Appearance: Dark, cloudy. To style for a dive bar. The walls are lined with brewery paraphernalia - signs, stickers, mirrors, and tap handles of beers extinct and extant. Behind the bar is kept every species of glassware and even a crockpot of mead - perpetually warm, unfortunately Chaucer's. Mounted deer heads stare vacantly down at you from the walls; regular customers stare vacantly up at you from the bar.

Aroma: 2-row, Saaz, B.O. Notes of weed waft in from the Lower Haight. Hints of wet dog and musky vagrant.

Taste: Lots of residual sugar on the tables and floor. Some bartenders are sweet, some sour. One is quite savory. The 5 basic tastes are all represented in the 40+ taps, casks, and long bottle list.

Mouthfeel: For food, edible arterial obstructions are available at vendors adjacent to the building. They may seem nourishing after a few drinks though your opinion may change the morning after. But who hasn't woken up next to some festering pizza they thought worthy of a Michelin Star just the night before? Live and learn.

Earfeel: Abandon all hope of verbal communication when the jukebox is on. Extended visits often result in temporary hearing loss. Knowledge of sign language or semaphore is a plus.

Drinkability: Top marks. It's easy to stop by for a quick pint only to die of alcohol poisoning.

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Photo of mobyfann
4.78/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Toronado is a dark-lit pseudo-dive bar in the Lower Haight district of San Francisco...

Atmosphere: It's definitely a hit with the local's and is crowded most of the time, standing and waiting for a table can be part of the experience. It's minimally lit with a capacity nearing 70 people (or so) and the vibe for the three times I've been here has been positive and young... mostly people in their 20s and 30s.

Quality: Half of the features are local Cali brews (Lagunitas, Russian River, Bear Republic, etc.) and the rest are scattered (Aventinus, Dogfish Head, etc.). There are maybe a couple "meh" brews on the large list.

Service: Even though it's a busy place, that won't stop the bartender's efficiency in pouring down the drinks and raking in the massive tips he/she must earn on any night.

Selection: With the quality of brews being first-rate, the selection is vast and varying in styles, some room-temp brews and a few organics pop-up.

Food: This is in reference to the sausage stand next door that is affiliated with Toronado, the sausages are excellent and come with a choice of two toppings (kraut, onions, peppers, chili) with options of potato salad and a few other options. Also, on my recent trip a local lady (The Tamale Lady?) walked into the bar selling various tamales (in corn husks) at $4 and the whole experience was entertaining!

Value: For San Francisco these prices are very legit, most beers range from $4-6 depending on type.

Overall: In and when anyone moves to San Francisco and lives near the Lower Haight, this will probably be one of your hangout spots; especially if you appreciate quality brews and great prices... Excellent bar!

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Photo of tyanow
4.8/5  rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

The great American Beer Bar.

Honestly, that should be all that I have to write. I travel more than most and seek beer bars wherever I go. There are great ones all over the place, but there is nothing that matches the pure beer enthusiasm of the owners/staff/patrons of this place.

It is not snobby, pretentious, or otherwise off putting - unless you go Saturday night at 11PM and the place is packed to the gills.

You have college kids drinking cask pumped porters next to businessmen enjoying a Beligian next to a biker drinking a hef.

Long live the Toronado.

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Photo of DaveFL1976
4.3/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

What a cool area. Is there any other area more cool for a location than Haight Street in San Francisco? Am I overusing the term cool? That might be a sign of my uncoolness, and I realize that.

A $10 cab ride (at breakneck speeds, catching air numerous times) from the Wharf area.

Your first obsticle is the Dutch Door. Do not forget to open it upon entering, and do not forget to close it once you enter.

Tons of beer memorabelia on the wals, along with bottles and tap handles from years past. Nice digs. Not fancy, but to the point. This is a beer bar.

When you walk in, look up and you'll see the tap list, full of fantastic beers. I must admit, on my one and only visit, I did not find anything particularly Earth-shattering. Still, though. Top notch tap and bottle selection.

No food to speak of and the service wasn't all that warm. Maybe this particular 4:30 on a Thursday Afternoon didn't give me the experience of one of the best beer bars in the country. Well, no maybe about it. It just didn't.

Still, with 100% certainty, a place you should check out when in the San Francisco area.

Come with no expectations and a thirsty pallate and you'll walk away happy. And drunk.

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Photo of Gigantis
4.74/5  rDev +10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Had to give this place a try when I was in San Fran a month ago. I kind of went in expecting some surly service and mean looks from the locals along with great beer. Well, I certainly got great beer!

When I went in (on a Saturday) the place was busy, but not slammed/standing room only. There were a few seats at the bar available and me and my friend took two of them. It's L-shaped really and not by any means gigantic. From our vantage point, we could look up and see lots and lots of tabs hanging from the wall/ceiling. We could not see the beer list, which is a chalk board on a beam that half the bar is not privy to.

This did not matter because I knew I wanted Pliny and I knew they would have it. It was delicious and the bar tender was very warm and friendly and even answered my friend's questions about framboise. Yes, she actually did not make fun of him at all. We were hungry and our neighbor recommended that we try to sausage place next door. They had a couple of buddies there that took our seats - and actually gave them back to us when we returned w/ the sausages (which are awesome at the place next to Toronado by the way).

I had another two beers - Consecration and Twist of Fate from the cask. The bartenders were always helpful and, while I expected a level of sneering enmity, were nothing but nice as hell. The patrons there were also very nice and we had what can only be described as a wonderful time.

The only thing I can even remotely cite as disappointing is the sort of ho-hum atmosphere. I guess I maybe expected a more rollicking, wild place. I'm sure it gets that way at times, but I actually almost appreciate the understated nature of the place. When we left (around 11) there was a line to get in. They probably could use about twice the space. Oh well, I feel very good about my experience there. It lived up to the hype and eviscerated all the criticism I have heard to this point. Lovely place in a lovely city.

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Photo of Jmoore50
4.29/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5

This place is bad ass. It is not very big and it is pretty crowded all the time. It is tucked away also. So I walked in and sat down. I am 21 and was by far the youngest in there by at least ten years. Of course I was given a hard time but I was willing to put up with some shit because of the selection of brews that they have. It was the first time I had Pliny the Elder and it was on tap. Great. I ordered the beer and sat down and enjoyed it. I had another one and left.
The next day I took a friend and the British bartender was an ass hole and gave us a good hard time. Screw him, I got Pliny and Consecration on tap for about ten bucks. Awesome. There is so much to look at and the service, once picked on, is great. You can tell there are the regulars that come there all the time, and why not? The beer selection was out of this world and the environment was great. Next time I go in there I will tell the bartender to go f himself and have a great array of brews all in my grasp.
Exciting place.
J

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Photo of mongodestroy
4.94/5  rDev +15.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

I just moved back to the bay area from Fresno where my local bar had a lot to say about the Toronado. Visiting the Toronado was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. Great pub experiences are few and far between. We got there early around noon and were able to establish a rapport with the bartender. My glass was never empty for more then a minute before I got served. Even despite my foul of not tipping after every beer and waiting till the end, the service was great. I believe this is because we got there early before it got too busy and were able to chat with the bartender. The music was a bit on the loud side but contributed to a unique experience. I can see how people have gotten bad service since the place is run on their terms and there is certainly no shortage of patrons. Beer selection was amazing as amazing as it could have been.

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Photo of route66pubs
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

After all I had been hearing and reading about this place, I was anxious to finally get a chance to try it. I will say that their tap selection was pretty solid, with some great local stuff and a good bit of rare stuff as well. The service was not outstanding, but not terrible either (I'd heard some horror stories).

This "hole-in-the-wall" reminded me in some ways of my beloved local hangout "The Verdugo." The tap selection was great and the group of people hanging around seemed like a good, eclectic group / mix.

I think that the big down side for me was waiting for the first pour, when it seemed like it took 20 minutes just to be noticed. The next two treks to the bar, though, improved that dramatically. Don't expect any friendly face time from the bartender, though.

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Photo of BevMoPatrick1
4.53/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I grew up in the East Bay and was back in town for my sister's graduation, so I had to at least make the trip worth my while in checking out a few beer spots that I never had the opportunity to appreciate as a kid. Toronado didn't dissapoint. This place was amazing, I hadn't been to the Haight district in years so location and atmosphere was awesome. It was packed but service was suprisingly prompt. Selection was great, had the Russian River Mortification, and Sierra Nevada Porter on cask. Will definetely be back. It was happy hour as well so the dollar off the already great prices was an added bonus.

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Photo of BasementBrewerSF
4.72/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Toronado is the best beer bar in San Francisco, period.

It is not without its problem though. On most weekend nights, almost every weekend night, the bar is overflowing with patrons and it takes quite a while to get a drink from the one or two bartenders. The bartenders are quick and knowledgeable but expect the customer to know what they want, and questions are not easily answered in the loud bar.

Getting the negative out of the way, they have the best selection in town. A consistantly rotating menu of extremely rare and limited edition beers makes trips to Toronado a regular must, for any local. They also host breweries on a regular basis. This is quite a treat, but again the bar gets really crowded.

Any serious beer traveler must make a stop at this legendary bar. No bar in the city, or anywhere else I have traveled, has this quality and selection of beer.

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Photo of NikkiMacBrain
4.72/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Well. I finally got around to the Toronado after hearing about it from customers for years. Outstanding taps and hand pumps, great prices, great atmosphere (if you're a dive bar guy like I am). It's cash-only, which is unexpected but no inconvenience, really.

So, the service issue. As an obvious out-of-towner (was on my way out with my bag and all) I felt a little looked over at first. But, to be fair, the place was jumping and there appeared to be one guy on the bar and one working the tables. They were pretty busy. As I got to chat up the bartender a bit and he learned that I worked retail, things warmed up and I realized how curt I can get on the job--especially when someone asks me if we carry IPA or if we have anything 'medium'. We carry over 400 bottles at the shop I work at, I've been doing this for over 5 years now--and I still don't know what that means.

Overall, an outstanding bar and one I'll be spending some time and cash in when I'm in town. Do yourself a favor: get over yourself, be patient waiting for your drink and enjoy one of the best selections of taps in the US.

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Photo of braddo
4.94/5  rDev +15.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Best bartender to ever pour a pint. What you see is what you get. Great prices and great selection. Belly up to the bar and you won't want to leave. Take a pass on the mead in the crock pot behind the bar. They don't serve food but you can buy a sausage next door and bring it back to the bar. This will be the fist place I go when I go back to San Fran.

Sampled:
Pliny the Elder Double IPA (Draught) - Beer Advocate's rating lives up to the hype! Huge floral and citrus taste.

Saison Dupont (Draught) - Refreshing and crisp. True to the style. Perfect for a hot summer day. May be better buying in a bottle from the store. A pint costs a small fortune.

Sierra Nevada Chico IPA (Cask) - Taste of citrus and hops. Heavy hop aroma like many Sierra Nevada offerings.

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (Draught) - Malty flavor and heavy hop aroma. Worthy of topping any IPA list.

http://www.burrstreetbrewblog.com/2009/03/san-francisco-beer-week.html

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Photo of raoulduke37
4.7/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

This is about the 6th or 7th time I've been here, and I finally decided to review the place. First off, I am yet to experience any of the so-called bad service that anybody has spoken of yet. To those poster's credit, I agree that the bartenders are a bit "gruff" not unlike old Scottish sea captains in the early 19th century, but none-the-less, I have yet had an experience where I have been disrespected, or not accomodated in any way (and that includes half pints to my g/f, who was most definitely respected as well). My advice for anyone who goes here is simply: read the menu first (it's posted on the wall), decide what you want, speak clearly, and leave a decent tip. Follow those suggestions, and I guarantee you that you'll enjoy your experience here. Well, that takes care of the atmosphere and service...as far as quality and selection, this is also pretty amazing - lots of Belgians and German beers on tap, and some DFH, Marin, RR, and lots of others. I found that going around December is a really good time because you get all the exciting seasonal brews. Basically, if you are in the city, this place is a must, even if you're just stopping in for a pint of Pliny. I'd like to get up here for some of their festivals, but it is a 370 mile drive for me. Last but not least, the place has the greatest prices out of ANY beer bar I've ever been to, period. Happy hour is from opening (11:30) until 6 pm, in which case ALL beers are $1 off their already low price. I will keep coming back here.

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Photo of JoeySchlitz
3.8/5  rDev -11.4%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 5

I've been meaning to write a review of one of the local haunts but just haven't had time lately (until now). The Toronado is a beer institution in SF and in northern California. They continually bring in some of the best brewers and beers from the west coast and usually offer them at great prices (the bottles on the other hand are a different story - be prepared to be gouged). Overall a very good place to get a great beer, but there can be times where it's horrendous. Those are usually when the place is completely overcrowded and the staff is overwhelmed - it happens a lot too. I think that they revel in knowing that so many people will put up with just about anything to get a glass of great beer and that they really don't have to cater to anyone. Given the continual feedback on BA and also other forums (Yelp, etc.) with the service issue one would think that they would act upon it. But that would be if that experience was out of line with their expectations - so I don't expect anything to change. Good and bad - well I guess no place is perfect.

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Toronado in San Francisco, CA
Place rating: 4.29 out of 5 with 488 ratings
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