SF’s 10 Hautest Bars Near Union Square

It’s the last big weekend of holiday shopping and certainly you’ll deserve to unwind after making the rounds at San Francisco’s Union Square boutiques and department stores. Here’s our list of the 10 hautest bars near Union Square, where you can kick up your feet, rest your packages and enjoy a tasty cocktail in a chic setting.

Hakkasan-sf_barPhoto Credit: Aubrie Pick

You’ll always find a haute bar scene at Hakkasan, the ultra-cool modern Chinese eatery on the second floor of the iconic One Kearny building. An elevator whisks you up to the second floor where you’re greeted by a 25-seat V-shaped bar, where an assortment of delicious seasonal cocktails are available. Flanked to the left by the Ling Ling and to the right by the cage, the bar acts as the main stage, allowing you to mingle with other cool customers and the different areas of the restaurant. Sleek, comfortable barstools clad in leather invite you to unwind after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, while a “Sommelier Bar”– an extension of the existing bar comprising four seats – is available for those desiring a more intimate experience with the sommelier. If you can’t decide what to order, here are a few suggestions:  Dark Whisper (Kappa pisco, lavender, egg white, lemon, lime and blackberry), Spice Route (Olmeca Altos Reposado, pineapple, passion fruit, ginger and lime), Tropical Dynasty (Mount Gay Eclipse rum, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, spiced Port, grapefruit and cinnamon dust) or the Wong Fe Hung (Nolet’s Dry gin, Green Chartreuse, egg white, fennel, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao and orange bitters). Cheers!

best union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Dirty Habit

Dirty Habit, perched on the fifth floor of the recently-renovated Hotel Palomar, is where you can enjoy a vivid social scene and creative craft cocktail menu that emphasizes rare brown spirits. Bar Manager Brian Means’ inventive bar program features large format communal cocktails, house creations crafted with unexpected ingredients like corn tea and porcini mushroom and a carefully curated selection of 300+ rare spirits and whiskeys, sourced from countries such as Taiwan, India and Tasmania. If you’re still stuck on the communal cocktails, a couple of examples are the “Get me a Juice Box” Lunch Box (for two): a stylish lunch box featuring Pabst Blue Ribbon, Hot Toddy and housemade chicharrones; and the “Daiquiri Time Out” (for four): Daiquiris made with Denizen Rum, fresh lime juice and sugar, served table side. We particularly love the stylish and provocative design of Dirty Habit. When it’s not raining, you can also unwind on the spacious, heated outdoor patio.

union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Clift Hotel

Pop in the the famous Redwood Room inside the Clift hotel to soak up history and you imbibe. Suffused with all-out glamour, the interior features the original redwood paneling and enormous bar, which, legend has, was carved from a single redwood tree, as well as Phillipe Starck-designed lounge furniture and an ever-changing array of digital artwork displayed on plasma television screens hung throughout the room.

union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Mina Group

The Clock Bar, created by Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina and situated inside the Westin St. Francis, is perfect choice at just the right time and place to enjoy a seasonal hand-crafted cocktail and famous Clock Bar burger, or bar bites like prosciutto and local cheese from Pt. Reyes.

best union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Hotel Zetta

S&R Lounge (short for ‘salvage and rescue’), located in the lounge and hotel lobby of the Hotel Zetta San Francisco, is the ideal recreational space with a full menu and a great cocktail program. The folks behind the food and drink operations in the lounge (and the entire hotel) are Anna Weinberg, James Nicholas and Chef Jennifer Puccio of Marlowe and Park Tavern. S&R Lounge comes in the tradition of a Manhattan lobby bar hang out (think Ace or Bowery), where New Yorkers mingle, have meetings, plug in and grab drinks. S&R Lounge, however, is set to a tune of Silicon Valley start-up speak. On the ground floor lies the bar and dozens of tables (and one hanging chair); upstairs is another public area with sofas, televisions, video games, a red phone booth, a pool table and shuffleboard.

best bars in union square
Aunt Christl’s Punsch, available during the holidays at Bluestem Brasserie

Photo Credit: Courtesy Bluestem Brasserie


It’s that time of year where Bluestem Brasserie fans can enjoy Aunt Chrystl’s Austrian Punsch! For those unfamiliar, Bluestem features a boozy concoction based on a family recipe including red wine, rum, orange juice, and warming spices. Located on Yerba Buena Lane and Market Street, Bluestem Brasserie is the perfect place for holiday shoppers to refuel during their holiday shopping rendezvous. If you get the munchies, be sure to get the seasoned Kennebec fries. Yummy!

best union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Gaspar Brasserie
Gaspar Brasserie, the fifth restaurant in Franck LeClerc’s already impressive collection, has a super cool Mad Men-esque setting with a bar program led by Gregory Saavedra. The cocktail menu is made up of champagne and Parisian-inspired cocktails and unique takes on modern classics with several cognac cocktails such as the flaming Café Brûlot – perfect for chilly shoppers out crossing people off their lists in Union Square.

union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Hyatt Hotels

OneUP Lounge, inside the Grand Hyatt on Union Square, is where locals and visitors can mingle in a fun and stylish atmosphere. Friendly bartenders with whom you can chat about what you bought will whip up classic cocktails and pour you craft beer or wine. The chic lounge boasts modern art and big windows overlooking the Union Square district–and daily happy hour specials.

best union square barsPhoto Credit: Erin Gleeson

If you’re feeling sexy, head to Gitane, the sexiest restaurant on Claude Lane and where the bar oozes sensuality. Bartender Krista Splendorini’s crafts ever-changing cocktails that inspire conversation and reflect the seasons. Explore the creative cocktail menu, expansive wine list and one of the largest selections of sherry in the Bay Area. At the bar, you can also enjoy the new menu created by Executive Chef Jason Tuley and full of dishes inspired by the flavors of Southern France, Spain and Italy.

best union square barsPhoto Credit: Courtesy Palace Hotel

Yes, the Pied Piper Bar & Grill, inside the Palace Hotel, is old school but still worth a visit, if only to see the renowned Maxfield Parrish mural that hangs above the bar. The cocktails are quite pleasing as well in this legendary bar.