The Toronado Pub is a tiny beer bar that sits in the historic Haight Distrct of San Francisco, California. Without mincing words – it’s a total dive. No hard alcohol. No food. No plastic. They only take cash. Which is probably a good thing since the sticker covered cash register came from the 1960’s. “No frills” is an understatement, but when you walk through the half-door (there’s no air conditioning) of this fabled tavern you feel like you’re walking on Holy Ground. So how can a place that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since it opened in 1987 survive? It’s all about the outta sight brew, man.
During my recent visit the draught board was lit up with over 60 different beers from around the world. Taps lined the walls in several spots, including inside the cooler. A plethora of bottled beer is available too. Don’t ask for a nifty menu because they don’t have one (the beers change too much), and don’t bother checking for a list on their website either — it hasn’t been updated since 2000.
Just ask the bartender. Johnny, who has worked there for “only” 14 years, was manning the packed place solo the night I was there, but he’s such a whirling dervish of activity you’d think there were more. So if you’re dazed and confused by the bewildering assortment, just ask Johnny… or any of the other barkeeps. All of them have been there longer then Johnny, and they’re all just as knowledgeable.
Although they don’t serve food, you can bring it in with you. I suggest something from the Rosemunde Sausage Grill or Mythic Pizza, which border the bar. Be sure to clean up after yourself, or else you might get hurt. While I wouldn’t call the environment hostile, it’s certainly not a place you’d enter if you just stumbled onto it.
But none of that matters! This is a groovy, once in a lifetime experience. If you’re a true lover of the brew the Toronado is a place you must visit before you kick the bucket.
* On May 24th, 2008, a second location opened in Southern California — Toronado San Diego. They serve food and their website is up to date! At some point I’ll have to see if this new location is up to snuff.
Submitted by: Eli - The Mad Beer Man