When someone you went to school with sends you a DM saying they “would love to hang,” what do you do? Or what about when you half-heartedly agree to meet a person who identifies as a “creator slash curator” on a dating app?
Now that “catching up” is suddenly everyone’s favorite activity, it’s time to practice the art of the hour-long drink-and-snack. These 15 spots are ideal for first dates, coworker reunions, and third-tier friend meetups - especially because you can be in and out by 9pm, and go home and watch TV by yourself.
Red Window is a new Spanish restaurant in North Beach that recently made it onto our Hit List thanks to fantastic tapas and low-proof cocktails like spritzes and sangrias. It’s also the perfect spot to “catch up” with someone you haven’t seen in, um, 14 months. Grab a seat on their expansive outdoor parklet, and discuss the dogs they recently fostered over crispy patatas bravas, mushroom skewers, and three-year-aged jamón Ibérico. The food comes out fast, so you can quickly eat, drink, and chat before making some excuse to go home, like having to FaceTime your grandma’s dog.
Nothing says “I will not be staying for more than 60 minutes” than suggesting you meet at a cafe. And this Japanese spot in SoMa fits the bill. It’s got excellent donburi and our absolute favorite katsu sandwich in the city, plus matcha lattes to sip on, and a cute outdoor setup with bright blue tables and a wooden bar so you can sit and chat for a while. But not too long.
For excellent cocktails and small plates that can be finished relatively quickly (so you’ll be able to tuck back into bed by 9pm and finish watching old episodes of Glee), meet up at True Laurel in the Mission. They incorporate things like snap peas or redwood tips into their delicious cocktails, and have an occasionally-changing food menu of candied nuts, cornmeal hushpuppies, a great patty melt, and more. Sit back and chill on one of their sidewalk tables while you secretly daydream about one of the greatest Glee performances of all time.
Come to Causwells for their excellent Americana burger, which can also be scarfed down in record time. You’ve got places to be, after all. And by places, we mean back home in your best lounge fit and a charcoal face mask. We’re also big fans of their deviled eggs and crispy onion strings, which go great with something from their extensive menu of cocktails, beer, and wine.
During the pandemic, Flour + Water opened up this takeout-focused pasta, provisions, and sandwich shop in the Mission - which also happens to be a great place to meet someone for a quick, casual lunch. They have tables set up out front, so you can grab a Calabrian fried chicken hoagie or cheese plate and enjoy it with a spritz or glass of natural wine. Also, maybe grab a pasta kit to take home and make by yourself one night.
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
Kin Khao is home to the Beyoncé of San Francisco noodle soups, a.k.a. their khao soi with a rich curry broth and a crunchy noodle topping. It’s spicy, salty, and sweet all at once, and you should slurp it down with a side of tamarind and Sriracha-glazed chicken wings on their shaded patio. Once you’ve finished off the soup, it should be about time to head home to, you know, let the dog out.
If you’ve finally committed to meeting up with that high school acquaintance after years of them fire-reacting to your Instagram stories, you might as well get a great drink out of the whole thing. Suggest grabbing one at Anina in Hayes Valley. They have beer, wine, cocktails, and punch bowls, which you can enjoy on their heated, covered patio or parklet before you go home to spend the rest of the night recovering from small talk fatigue.
Intu-on is an excellent Isaan Thai pop-up operating out of Birba Wine Bar on Sunday afternoons, and it’s practically the textbook spot for the classic drink-and-snack scenario. You can order ahead or walk up to get their shareable dishes like shrimp toast or funky, spicy crispy curry rice, and a glass of wine from Birba. They have seating on their back patio, or sidewalk tables in front.
This new margarita bar/restaurant in the Castro has an extensive list of agave-based spirits and cocktails, as well as dishes like octopus al pastor or flautas. They only take walk-ins, and are serving brunch and dinner indoors or out on their colorful parklet. Also, once you’re sitting, your food and drinks will come out pretty quickly. So grab a seat and set a mental timer for exactly one hour so you know when to start wrapping things up.
We love stopping by this Mexican restaurant and cocktail bar for any occasion, including an obligatory meet-up with the third-tier friend you’ve been dodging FaceTimes from all year. Find a seat on their parklet or back patio, and fill up on tacos, flautas, and tostadas and a frozen margarita or a michelada. They also have a pretty extensive brunch menu on weekends, with things like churro waffles and al pastor hash.
Lost And Found Bar SF
On top of having great quesabirria tacos and garlic fries, Lost and Found also has a cozy parklet complete with egg-shaped swinging chairs and cushioned benches. In other words, you’ll feel like you’re in your living room and won’t mind leaving your spot on the couch for an hour or so to go here. Stop by for a quick cocktail and a snack before going back home for your nightly scroll through TikTok.
Violet’s is a nice neighborhood spot in the Richmond where we can go for a full-on meal, like their perfectly-grilled pork chop or a burger and a slice of key lime pie - but we can also stop by for a few small plates, like chips and dips, brussels sprouts, and sweet and sour wings, and leave happy.
We head to Macondray in Russian Hill whenever we want to feel like we’re on vacation (which lately, is pretty damn often). The lush, plant-filled interior is a lovely place to sit and sip on a blood orange margarita or a glass of wine - and they have parklet seating, too. To eat, you can order everything from a lobster roll or chips and dip to a fried chicken sandwich with pepper jack and jalapeño.
The Alembic is one of our favorite bars in the Haight - it’s got the cozy feel of an old-school, neighborhood spot, and has consistently great drinks. Grab a booth on their covered parklet with whoever you’re catching up with, and field questions like “So... how was your quarantine?” over potato leek fritters, grilled artichoke, or a boozy ice cream float.