Typically packed with students, nine-to-fivers from the nearby financial district and visitors staying at big-name and boutique hotels, Union Square is home to artsy gallery bars and vivacious Irish pubs. Visitors will also find myriad flashy clubs like the multi-level techno/house paradise Ruby Skye or after-hours hot spot Suite one8one. The area is also home to a small bar scene with unique outposts, such as Bacchus Kirk, which is reminiscent of a mountain lodge with finished wood interiors and a fireplace.
Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.788.1234
Located in the vertically stupefying lobby of the Hyatt Regency downtown San Francisco, the Atrium Bar is a worthy stop for businessmen and tourists seeking a cocktail before dining in the Embarcadero's nearby Restaurant Row.
Aunt Charlie's Lounge
133 Turk St. (at Taylor), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.441.2922
Gender illusionists and lip-sync artists and dancing, oh my. DJs bring the house down at Aunt Charlie's five nights a week with electro, hip-hop, indie, '80s and more.
925 Bush St. (at Taylor), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.475.4069
This full-service bar hosts the standard pool tables and televisions, but Bacchus Kirk also serves up a unique atmosphere with friendly staff.
501 Broadway (at Kearny), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.982.5299
Specialty drinks, a cool and comfortable atmosphere and small, intimate stages featuring jazz, Latin and DJ dance music are what make Impala Lounge stand out from the pack.
SIP BAR & LOUNGE
787 Broadway St (at Powell), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.699.6545
Formerly the Blind Tiger, Sip Bar and Lounge features a warm ambience with deep colors and soft lighting, as well as a spacious dance floor and high ceilings. DJs spin from Wednesday through Sunday.
555 Pine St., San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.885.1464
A staple of the San Francisco blues scene, the Blue Lamp hosts a staggering array of local and national blues talents in a lively downtown setting. The bar is stocked with top shelf libations and signature cocktails for setting that "One bourbon, one shot and one beer" mood.
685 Sutter St. (at Taylor), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.441.5678
The Cellar, aptly named, as the party is downstairs, breaks it down with DJs spinning mainly hip-hop music seven nights a week. The club boasts two dance floors lined with maroon and deep blue velvet couches and various pool tables.
Hilton Hotel, 333 O'Farrell (at Mason), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.923.5002
Once a go-go dancing hall, Cityscape's present incarnation is a San Francisco bar and restaurant with stellar views of the San Francisco cityscape and pulls off its reputation as a romantic and tasty city escape.
Fluid Ultra Lounge
662 Mission St. (between New Montgomery and 3rd), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.615.6888
Fluid is made with its stylish modern interior, a well-lit and relaxing bar and lounge that transforms into a pulsating nightclub. The club infuses sophisticated chic with its décor, service and music, and features unique amenities such as a state-of-the-art computer-generated lit walkway that creates infinite colors and patterns and a dramatic, glowing bar.
Harry Denton's Starlight Room
450 Powell St., San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.395.8595
Walking into the Starlight Room on the 21st floor of Sir Francis Drake Hotel is a bit like stepping into a time machine. The hostess wears a black cocktail dress, the bartenders don white tuxedos and Sinatra's voice soars from above. Black and white photos of celebrity patrons (ostensibly, Harry's friends) harken back to a simpler era when drinking scotch with a cigar clenched in your teeth and looking out over the twinkling city lights (the view is spectacular) was enough to fulfill a man's dreams.
1630 Powell (between Union and Green), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.646.0018
A little Latin enclave in the heart of downtown San Francisco, Peña PachaMama seamlessly integrates organic (and upscale) Bolivian food and trendy world music in a colorful and lively downtown San Francisco bar and restaurant.
181 Eddy (at Taylor), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.885.1977
Not much was lost in translation when this New York '70s club franchised. Expect to dance at least once to "I Will Survive" while doing a jello shot. Memorabilia lines the walls and day-glo colors complete the club's culture.
420 Mason (at Geary), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.693.0777
With two levels, 4 rooms, and several VIP areas, Ruby Skye offers live shows and DJ music every Friday and Saturday with frequent special events on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights.
181 Eddy (at Taylor), San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.345.9900
Located in the heart of San Francisco, mere blocks from Union Square, Suite One8one is one of the few late-night locales open until 4am. This nightlife mecca houses three levels of groove-inducing dance floors, each featuring a different vibe on any given evening.