Here’s what you should know about me: I’m obsessed with live music. I’m that girl who shows up, waits in line, and maybe loses her voice by night’s end. And as far as obsessions go, the only thing that comes close is my head-over-heels love of good food and drink. Thankfully, San Francisco’s a town where the two go easily hand-in-hand — our live music scene is killer, and our restaurants, well. We all know about our restaurants.
I’m here to help you imbibe in all that is delicious before, during, and after all of those fantastic shows. Specifically, by providing you with a guide to the best eateries and drinking establishments in close proximity to the Bay’s best venues. First up? The Independent, my go-to neighborhood concert venue, smack in the middle of the hot-and-getting-hotter Divisadero Corridor.
$2 drafts, outdoor seating, and dog-friendly? No joke, Bean Bag feeds the young, hungry, and musically inclined for a reason. Stop by for a hearty plate of simple grub (crepes, pastas, sandwiches), and more than one of those cheap, cheap brews (happy hour’s until 9pm).
Right across the street from The Indy, Mojo’s got a parklet, Death and Taxes on draft, and plays host to some of the city’s best pop-ups. Specifically: Wesburger Wednesdays (once you try the Hot Wes, his way-better take on a Jack-in-the-Box Hot Mess, you’re hooked for life) and Rice Paper Scissors on Thursdays, truly stellar iterations of Vietnamese Street Food.
This pocket-sized spot specializes in delicious, well-executed seafood, both raw and cooked. They’ve also got one of the best happy hours in San Francisco every day from 5-6:30pm. In addition to beer and wine specials, you can get $1 oysters, brimming bowls of manilla clams laced with paprika and bacon-studded seafood oyster for $6, and pairs of excellent fish tacos for $10.
The Independent features a full bar and, while it’s nothing to write home about, it’s got a nice selection of brews on draft and a full roster of liquor. The beers are only $6, which, compared to $12 domestics at some venues, feels like a great deal, these days. My pick? Bulleit on the rocks to start, and a Lagunitas IPA to finish.
Really, there’s no bad time of day or night to go to Nopa. But after a show may be one of the best, considering the restaurant serves their insanely delicious food until 1am and will likely have less of a wait later in the evening. Get a table for two upstairs, cluster around the communal table with friends, or post up at the bar and relive the set over a cocktail. As for ordering, you truly can’t go wrong — I’m always happy taking down a seasonally topped flatbread or a burger late-night, but am currently obsessed with a starter of creamy avocado and jicama studded with sesame seeds and trout roe.
A redesigned cocktail list and a hearty selection of Mediterranean mezze make Ziryab a stellar spot for a post-concert drink and meal. I love the straightforward simplicity of the Ziryab Manhattan, made with rye spiced with Lapsang Souchang tea, or the heady, anise-forward flavor of the Ostwald Ripened. Paired with some saffron-rich mussels or a braised lamb shank, you’ll soon be on the road to recovery after an aggressive pit session at the Indy.
There’s nothing better than a truly solid neighborhood bar, except, perhaps, a truly solid neighborhood bar that serves massive steaming platters of Ethiopian food. Here, they serve beer by the pitcher, whiskey neat, and piles of injera with your order. It’s a win-win.
Still hungry? Try seasonal pizzas and Italian small plates at Ragazza; corn-crusted deep dish at Little Star; melt-in-your-mouth carnitas and fresh tortillas at Nopalito; burritos and beers at The Little Chihuahua; blue corn enchiladas at Green Chile Kitchen; high-end Mexican food and mezcal at La Urbana; small plates and a diverse wine list at Wine Kitchen; or southern food and sangria at the Blue Jay Cafe. And, if you’re still craving a dance party, Madrone Art Bar has consistently great rotating DJ nights (Motown Mondays, Disco Thursdays, Prince vs. Michael Jackson) and a surprisingly great cocktail list.
Check out The Independent’s concert calendar so you can plan your eating, and drinking, accordingly.