San Francisco Bars and Restaurants Perfect for Before and After A Show | San Francisco Travel
Cocktails are served at Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco.
Cocktails are served at Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco. Credit: @brthompsonator

San Francisco
Bars and Restaurants Perfect for Before and After A Show

Explore some of the best spots in San Francisco for pre- and post-show dining and drinks.

San Francisco is home to some of the greatest performing arts institutions in America, many housed in glorious historic spaces.  Whatever your artistic preference—be it cutting edge or classical—you’ll probably want to grab a bite to eat before or after the show. That's why we’ve compiled this list of great places to eat in San Francisco for your artistic night out.

We have focused on the neighborhoods that are nearest to most of the city’s top performing arts venues; but be sure to explore the fantastic dining available in every corner of our city during your visit.

Union Square


501 Geary St.
(415) 292-8151

Located just a block from A.C.T.’s Toni Rembe Theater and The Curran, Tratto is a modern Italian eatery with a lively bar area. House-made pasta and an extensive wine list that taps into both old world and California vintages are the star attractions here, although the sharable aperitivos, modeled after Italian-style happy-hour small plates, are also showstoppers.

Communal seating creates friendly encounters with other theater-going diners, while house made Italian sodas make the restaurant a good choice for those with younger family members. Stylish yet informal, Tratto’s bar area is a great place to pop into for a quick last-minute cocktail or snack before the show. The pizza here also gets rave reviews.

Hours: Happy hour: Tuesday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dinner: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Le Colonial

20 Cosmo Pl.
(415) 931-3600

Le Colonial is an upscale French Vietnamese restaurant that is frequently rated among the top ten dining establishments in the entire city. With lush palm fronds and white tablecloth seating, this restaurant offers one of the most unique and pleasurable dining experiences in the neighborhood.

Weaving its way through different regions of Vietnam and adding both French and California touches to several of the dishes, the menu here is one of a kind. From vegan mushroom pho to hearty lamb curry, there is something here to please every type of diner.  An outdoor patio invites al fresco dining while a pleasant lounge is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and some small plates.

Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Campton Place Bistro

340 Stockton St.
(415) 781-5555

Situated within the luxurious Taj Campton Place Hotel, the Campton Place Bistro offers a pleasant upscale experience perfect for the before or after show crowd. Indian-inspired dishes like Chicken Makhani with basmati rice are the stars of the menu here.

The bustling bar is also a nice choice for wine by the glass or a craft cocktail, and the full food menu is available here as well. Campton Place Bistro is also famous for their desserts. Try the passion fruit and coconut panna cotta, served with pistachios.

Hours: Daily 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Del Popolo

855 Bush St.
(415) 589-7940

Fresh-out-of-the-wood-oven Italian style pizza and a night out at the theater are a match made in heaven. That’s why stopping by Del Popolo is one of our top recommendations.

The pleasant all-wood dining room and small rear garden patio, complete with outdoor heaters, are the evolution of a well-loved pizza truck that used to serve San Francisco back in 2012. Now a downtown mainstay, Del Popolo does about a dozen different Neapolitan-style individual pizzas, as well as a variety of small plates like grilled octopus and asparagus tempura.

Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.


420 Geary St.
(415) 346-2131

Thonglor, which is located right across the street from both A.C.T. and The Curran. The family-run restaurant is strong on service and flavor but light on the budget and wait time, making it the perfect last-minute choice for some quality eats before a show.

Real deal red and green curries, as well as classic noodle dishes like pad thai stand out on the menu here. Thonglor always offers a weekly special: a traditional plate plus a Thai ice coffee for one low price. A hole in the wall that is easy to miss, this is one of downtown San Francisco’s top local foodie havens.

Hours: Daily 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Bourbon and Branch

501 Jones St.
(415) 346-1735

A Prohibition Era-themed speakeasy that is hidden away, Bourbon and Branch is no ordinary bar. Dark, stylish, and full of both visitors and after-work locals, it was an actual underground drinking den back in the 1920s.

One of the most atmospheric places to enjoy a craft cocktail in the downtown area, this lounge makes its own mixers and syrups in-house and enforces some unique rules including “no cell phone use” and “no ordering cosmopolitans.” A bar within the bar, Wilson and Wilson offers personalized bartending for one to four guests at a time. Reservations are usually necessary.

Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.


Black Cat

400 Eddy St.
(415) 358-1999

Step back in time to the golden age of American jazz music at this supper club. The Black Cat sports a friendly street level bar and a swanky underground dining room and live music venue downstairs.

House bands and international acts take the stage Thursday through Saturday nights. Classic Southern dinner items, like shrimp and grits, are served during the show. While these shows do have a cover charge (usually $20-$30), the street level bar allows you to soak up some of the ambience over a cocktail and small plates with no admission fee.

Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 6 p.m. to 11p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. to Midnight; Sunday 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.


45 McAllister St.

Located 120 feet above bustling Market Street on the roof of the Proper Hotel, Charmaine’s is a bar and lounge with incredible urban views. With an all-day cocktail and food menu, it's one of the top downtown havens to pop into before or after a show.

Comfy sofas and lush carpet are found in the indoor areas, while outdoor seating is arranged around blazing firepits. Charmaine’s serves both small and large items, including cheese and charcuterie plates meant for sharing.

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to Midnight; Saturday, 4 p.m. to Midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Civic Center/Hayes Valley


398 Hayes St.
(415) 551-1590

Established in 1998, Absinthe is a Hayes Valley dining institution. Located in a gorgeous Victorian building with a light-filled corner dining room, it’s one of the most classic San Francisco establishments at which to have a meal before or after a show.

The menu focuses on French brasserie style food and creative fusion. Try the black truffle cheeseburger! Absinthe also sports a lively bar area where well-made craft cocktails could be the perfect pick-me-up or wind-me-down for a night out on the town.

Hours: Wednesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

B-Side at SFJAZZ

201 Franklin St.
(866) 920-5299

Located within the state-of-the-art SF Jazz Center, the B-Side Lounge is a great place to fuel up before a performance. The warm-hued and leather sofa-studded lounge also hosts everything from DJs spinning jazzy grooves to live after hours shows, making it an attractive option to finish up the evening, as well.

B-Side serves a compact but well-thought-out cocktail list, as well as a selection of small plates meant to hold you over through a performance. The Lounge also frequently hosts informal talks with SFJAZZ artists. Check their website for a full calendar.

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and 90 minutes prior to performances.

Rad Radish

301 Hayes St.
(415) 916-8548

Vegan diners have much to celebrate at Rad Radish. The Hayes Valley restaurant is not only 100% plant-based but is also dedicated to keeping its fresh and healthy food affordable for all patrons.

Located right on the corner of Hayes and Franklin streets, just a block from Davies Symphony Hall, Rad Radish specializes in sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. Try the wildseed burger or the jackfruit sausage pizza. Rad Radish also offers a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.


384 Hayes St.
(415) 626-1211

A neighborhood favorite, Arbor does gourmet takes on popular fast-food items like curly fries and hamburgers. The restaurant also has a full selection of vegan and vegetarian versions of classic American fare, including a plant-based soft serve ice cream cone.

A nice selection of craft beer and wine by the glass make Arbor a top pick for a pre- or post-performance libation. The bright and cheerful eatery also sports a sunny parklet for enjoying everything al fresco.

Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hayes Street Grill

320 Hayes St.
(415) 863-5545

It doesn’t get fresher and more local than the Hayes Street Grill, which is located just blocks from the Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Opera, and the San Francisco Ballet. A neighborhood seafood restaurant that sources only sustainably caught items and taps into the bounty of regional organic farms for its produce, the restaurant draws foodies from all over the city.

It's a great place to try San Francisco classics like cracked Dungeness crab and oysters from Tomales Bay. The Hayes Street Grill is also famous for their hand-crafted desserts; think burnt Basque cheesecake! A good wine list with choices from around the globe adds to the appeal here.

Hours: Thursday and Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.


517 Hayes St.
(415) 570-6500

Inspired by the casual souvlaki eateries found all over Greece, Souvla is a Bay Area chain with a charming and sunny outpost right in Hayes Valley. Roasted meats, naturally raised on local farms, are sliced hot and steaming into house made pitas and served with salad and yogurt.

Casual and quick yet fresh and healthy, Souvla is an economical option for those that want to fill up before or after a show. A small selection of Greek wines and beers rounds out the menu here nicely.

Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Nojo Ramen Tavern

231 Franklin St.
(415) 896-4587

Authentic Japanese bar food developed at a sister restaurant in Japan is the draw of Nojo, a unique Hayes Valley dining establishment. The sleek and modern restaurant specializes in noodle dishes. Try the braised chicken leg in soy sauce and black garlic oil over ramen.

Utilizing a rich traditional chicken broth called paitan, the dishes here are full of flavor and are generously seasoned. A variety of sakes and Japanese beers, as well as a small plate menu meant for sharing, make the Nojo Ramen Tavern an excellent choice for snacks and drinks before or after the show.

Hours: Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Smuggler’s Cove

650 Gough St.
(415) 869-1900

Smuggler’s Cove is a tiki bar experience that visitors won’t soon forget. Specializing in rum and rum based cocktails, the James Beard Award-winning bar is known for its creative menu and high level of mixology expertise.

Decked out with vintage nautical items and tropical tiki decor, Smuggler’s Cove is also a fun destination for a pre- or post-show drink. It draws a friendly and boisterous after-work crowd.

Hours: Monday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 1:15 a.m.

Author Ocean Malandra
Ocean Malandra

Ocean Malandra was born in San Francisco and grew up in the North Beach neighborhood. A freelance journalist who covers food, travel, and the environment, he has been published in more than 30 different media outlets, including 7x7 Magazine, Vice, Mongabay, USA Today Travel, Earth Island Journal, The Culture Trip, Parabola Magazine, High Times Magazine, and Paste Magazine.