Haute Secrets: Doug Dalton, Bar Mastermind, Shares His SF Haunts


While you may not know who Doug Dalton is, if you live in San Francisco, you’ve definitely been to one of his bars. Dalton is the mastermind behind FutureBars, the bar group that’s credited with bringing the craft cocktail to a forefront in SF. Dalton owns a whooping eight bars: Swig, Bourbon and Branch, Rickhouse, Local Edition, Tradition, Devil’s Acre, and Pagan Idol in San Francisco, and Tupper & Reed in Berkeley. FutureBars also runs three high end spirits shops, Cask, with two locations in the city and a third in Berkeley on College Avenue. Dalton specializes in creating spaces that are inspired by history and decorated to an extreme. For his latest venture, Pagan Idol, a massive tiki-themed cocktail den with over-the-top rum drinks, waterfall, and twinkling starlit ceiling, Dalton spent weekends researching Los Angeles’ tiki bars. He took all of the things that he loved about these kitschy spots and turned them into a bar experience unlike any other. With bars on the brain, Dalton is a man about town. Besides his own establishments, we were wondering where Dalton likes to hang out, so we asked him to share his haute secrets. Here’s where you may find the silicon valley alum and Hayes Valley resident on any given day.

Where were you born: Funfax, Virginia

How long in San Francisco:  20 years

Neighborhood: Hayes Valley

Occupation: Bar Proprietor, SV alum

Favorite Restaurant: Sushirrito: where else can you get a big ass burrito full of awesomeness?

Best Sushi: Sushi Ran, smaller than Sushirrito, but much more tasty.

Best Italian: Cotogna. It has such a great atmosphere.

Best dessert: Smitten. It’s like a small-town ice cream stand in the center of the city.

Best place for a romantic date: Moss Beach Distillery—apparently it is haunted. What more can you ask for to get someone get a little closer?

Best Sunday brunch: Stacks, it’s hangover distance from my house.

Best place for a power business meeting: If you want to go to a place that feels like Al Capone did deals there, Sams in the Financial district/Belden Alley is your spot.

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? The Battery. It’s beautiful and sits atop a fun club.

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Azalea. It looks like a hipster exploded in there.

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: I don’t wear jewelry or watches except my Fitbit because when I wear it I feel like I get credit for moving.

Best Spa: Suchada. Thai massages don’t get any better without a happy ending. At least that is what I hear. . .

Favorite Charity Event: Hearts After Dark, a charity event to help SF General Hospital with a fun band and great people, in the center of AT&T Park.

Favorite Cultural Event: The Ballet Opening Gala. It is always at City Hall, which is such an amazing building.

Favorite Cultural Institution: It’s a tie between Treasure Island Music Festival and Outside Lands; basically I like standing in a field listening to music with my friends.

Best Steakhouse: HOPR [House of Prime Rib], if you don’t know, you don’t know.

Best Pizza: Pauline’s. The pine nut pesto pizza is amazing.

Best Lunch: Waterbar or Epic Steak House on the patio with incredible views of the bay.

Best Gym/Athletic Facility: Live Fit in Hayes Valley, because I am too lazy to go anywhere further.

Best Massage: Suchada—see best spa.

Best Limousine/Driving Service: Uber XL, it makes you look like you’re a baller.

Best Museum/Exhibit: The Palace of Fine Arts. The location is just so beautiful it doesn’t matter whats there.

Describe your city in three words: Evolving, innovative, and fun.

Favorite historic/legendary place to see or explore: Anywhere I am not supposed to go.

All-around favorite spot in San Francisco: My house in Hayes Valley. I love chilling out on my couch with my cat, Ben. How can it get any better than that?

Best Aspect of San Francisco: The music scene: Popscene at Rickshaw Stop, The Independent, Warfield—oh my, there is nothing I love more than going to a great show and San Francisco gets them all.