Here’s 6 Haute Spots to Celebrate Derby Day in SF

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We love a good reason to get dressed up in our Sunday’s best and throw on a fabulous hat, so naturally watching the Kentucky Derby is on our to-do list for this Saturday, May 2. The 141st Kentucky Derby takes place at 6 pm at Churchill Downs — 3 pm Pacific time. Wondering where to view the quickest sporting event in history? Here’s a round up of happenings in San Francisco.


All this week at Elixir, one of San Francisco’s oldest saloons in the Mission district, bartenders are serving up a Choose Your Own Julep menu. Bar goers select the type of whiskey and syrup to create their own personalized cocktail. Starting at 11 am on race day, the happenings in Kentucky will be aired on Elixir’s flatscreen televisions and chef Jack Andrews will be manning the barbecue. Andrews is plating up an assortment of Southern classics including pimento beer cheese with pretzels, cheesy grits with chorizo and pepperonata, and Kentucky burgoo.

14007510919_860dcb22b3_hPhoto Credit: Comstock Saloon

Over in North Beach, Comstock Saloon is hosting a viewing party from noon to 4 pm. Bulliet Bourbon Mint Juleps, Bulleit Rye Derby cocktails, and Southsides are just $6. There’s also a $25 three-course prix fixe lunch menu that includes the traditional Kentucky Hot Brown, a scrumptious open-faced sandwich with turkey, bacon, and a cheesy mornay sauce, and bourbon pudding. A betting contest with a charity element (all proceeds will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation) has some pretty cool prizes including a VIP winery tour and tasting at a yet to be named winery.


Just up the street on Grant into between Green and Vallejo is Tope. This spot is hosting their annual Kentucky Derby party and they encourage event goers to sport their best pastel sundress and matching hat or most spectacular seersucker suit. There will be plenty of mint juleps, tequila and bourbon cocktails, as well as tri-tip and chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, and salads. There’s also tons of games including corn hole, a DJ, prizes, and a portion of proceeds will go to the Goorin Bros Family House Charity.


If drinking whiskey before 5 pm isn’t your thing, head downtown to the European. At the chic lounge just off of Union Square, bartenders are pouring sparkling juleps, a concoction that combines prosecco with mint, bitters, and a sugar cube. Pair the bubbly with a platter of oysters or one of the European’s upscale bar snacks. There’s dry aged steak bites with crisp potatoes, cream fraiche, and bordelaise; mushroom fritters with lemon aioli; and braised pork sliders with manchego cheese. 


Down in the Marina, the Balboa Cafe is hosting a traditional Derby day party with all the quintessential accoutrements. The televisions will be showing the race, the bar will be crushing up first rate mint juleps, and the kitchen will be plating up their variation of the Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich. Reserve a table or pull up a couple of seats at their long inviting bar as you’ll surely want to stay awhile.

A couple blocks away at the Fort Mason General’s Residence, the Guardsman are hosting their annual Kentucky Derby shindig, A Run for the Roses. Only 350 people are admitted to the exclusive race day party that features a hosted bar, hand-rolled cigars, sporting lawn games, an auction, and a prize raffle. There’s also gorgeous views of the bay and prizes for the best dressed lady and gentleman.

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