This selection of San Francisco wine bars with full kitchens feature both international and local wine selections. Explore the world of cuisine and wine pairings in our seven-by-seven square mile city. Try some tasty tapas with your Tempranillo. Cast aside the calorie counter and order a burger to accompany your perfectly chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Go for a knock-out combo of saffron pappardelle with lamb and mint paired with a Chianti Classico. Or find out what you’ve been missing in a great Mosel Reisling with sausages, cabbage and mustard.
Step away from busy Market Street into the pedestrian side street called Yerba Buena Lane where the highly acclaimed Press Club is tucked away downstairs in a generous, stylish space beside the Four Seasons Hotel. Due to its proximity to Union Square, shopping and the Moscone Convention Center, the Press Club attracts a lively and sophisticated crowd that’s pretty buzzy by 8 p.m. Settle into a corner sofa or pull up a stool at one of the sleek ash wood bars for a Northern California-style experience.
Wine director Mauro Cirilli has amassed a hefty list of Californian labels including magnums and wines less known. Pairings are thoughtfully prepared for those taking a deeper dive into the diversity of the 150 labels. A springtime pairing of fresh, local asparagus with a Russian River Chardonnay from nearby Sonoma, or a Zinfandel from Lodi in California’s San Joaquin Valley paired with a pulled pork and ribs barbecue are among the seasonal selections. Ingredients are locally sourced from organic farms.
Taste Wine Like a Pro is a regular series for locals to expand their oenology and pairing skills. And for those not tied down to the office, happy hour runs daily until 6 p.m.
A Trattoria Gem
At Cotogna, Chef Michael Tusk is widely known for his outstanding cuisine created from a kitchen shared by his two Michelin-starred Quince adjacent. Everybody was talking about Cotogna when it opened in 2010…and they still are, including Michelle Obama who lunched there in January 2014.
Aside from the wonderfully cozy dining room and Italian trattoria cooking — Chef Michael Tusk is the 2011 James Beard Foundation Award Winner for Best Chef/Pacific — a casual, daily-changing menu features spit-roasted fresh fish, rotisserie grilled meats, housemade pastas and pizzas prepared in the wood oven.
Surprise! Every bottle of wine is Italian and all three dozen are the same price at $40 or $10 per glass. Sure, you can pay more for a reserve selection, but this approach to the Italian red, white and sparkling varietals is really appealing. Servers are knowledgeable and they’ll guide you. The wine listings indicates both region and grape, so you’ve got nothing to lose by creating some new pairings of your own choosing. You’ve scored a table at Cotogna, so there’s something worth celebrating right there!
Tapas in The Castro
There’s no better place to begin exploring the neighborhoods of San Francisco than the Castro District. Canela Bar & Bistro is a small, romantic place in the heart of the ‘hood with good food and a wine list featuring white sangria and the best wines from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, Sherry and other Mediterranean varietals.
Tastes and Tapas happy hour is a good way to sip and taste along with a friendly, eclectic clientele. Mat Schuster and Francisco Cifuentes create Spanish-inspired flavors using premium ingredients, including a variety of croquettes, albondigas, garlicky gambas, and salads. In fact, they’ve bought a farm. A brand new wine class offers four flights of tempranillo and tapas perfectly paired for those who who are ready to learn the ropes.
A Bavarian Comeback
San Francisco’s oldest German restaurant, Schroeder’s, re-opens in April 2014 following a careful renovation. Dating back to 1893, the big Bavarian-inspired beer hall with wall murals from the 30s is bringing wine to this historic venue for the first time. German and Austrian varietals will be served at this longtime popular spot at the foot of the Financial District near Embarcadero.
The new owners said, “We wanted to save this San Francisco institution and help it survive for another 120 years while showcasing sophisticated German cuisine in an approachable way. It’s how we like to eat and drink: a casual feeling and upscale setting.” Coming from a German family, Chef Manfred Wrembel is well-positioned to bring us authentic “potato pancakes, sausages, boiled beef tongue, pickled eggs shared at communal tables.” And, for sure, a lot of fun.