San Francisco is like a mecca for craft beer enthusiasts and if you fall into this category then you should make the pilgrimage at some point in your life. It is simply the right thing to do.
The Toronado Pub in The Haight is a recommended bar for the appreciator of fine craft beers. The website has not been updated (apparently) since 2008, but the draught and bottled beer listings are indicative of what you will find available. The pub itself is no nonsense; there is nothing fancy or refined here. If you want a Long Island Iced Tea then you have come to the wrong place. If you want a Coors Light, you definitely don’t belong here. If you want a bartender to kiss your ass, just walk right back out the door.
I smelled a slightly musty funk as I entered the pub – evidence of many washings of beer, soured after inebriated spillings from glasses or bottles. It wasn’t an uncomfortable scent and wasn’t overpowering, but it was definitely there. As we sat down at the bar, right when the doors opened for the day at 11:30am, we ordered our first draughts from the list you can see that runs perpendicular from the bar and across the room:
As we sat and sipped, a delivery truck brought in what seemed like 30 kegs of beer, so I’m guessing they do good business here. The brews are all reasonably priced, a common theme we noticed while on the Left Coast. Craft beer in San Francisco was, as a general rule, less expensive than what we can find in here in the Commonwealth (much to our delight).
Here are a few of the beers I had, and also some of my most memorable).
Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter (Stone collaboration) – This warm, full-bodied beauty is a joint brew by Ken Schmidt (a homebrewer), Garrett Marrero (Maui Brewing Co.), and Mitch Steele (Stone Brewing Co.). The Kona and coconut were easily detected and the macadamia added a butteriness to the finish.
La Biere des Collines: Hercule Stout – rich, sweet, and raisiney. I had this several times in San Francisco at different locations because I enjoyed it so much. And look at that bottle. Charming.
If you get hungry, hop next door and order from Rosamunde Sausage Grill and they’ll let you know when your sausage is done. I wasn’t too hungry when we were there and didn’t try any of the sausages, but they have offerings like Chicken Cherry, Chicken Habanero, Duck with Figs, Spicy Lamb, and Wild Boar with Apples. Salivating much? I am. Each sausage is served on a toasted French roll and with your choice of two toppings.
Like many of the bars and restaurants we were at in San Francisco, the restrooms are unisex. In some of the cases (Thee Parkside comes to mind) this is a harrowing experience for the fairer and gentler sex. The Toronado Pub was clean enough and fully stocked, but keep in mind that we were there right at opening. I can picture this single restroom becoming quite slovenly after hoardes of drunken men stumbling through in the course of a day. Every square inch of the room was covered in graffiti. It was so interesting that I was compelled to take some photos of it.
If you are in San Francisco and planning a Haight Street trek, this is an ideal way to start your day before heading up the long hill to Ashbury before ending at Amoeba Music. If you go, let me know what you thought!
Open 11:30am-2:00am daily
547 Haight Street, San Francisco 94117
Bus line: Take the 6, 7, 66, 71, or 22 Fillmore to Haight and Fillmore Streets.