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Extreme Beer Fest
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Taps: 43 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar ]
547 Haight St
phone: (415) 863-2276
(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 287 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by johnmichaelsen:
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
Visited the Toronado today... clearly the dive bar to end all dive bars.
The smallish Toronado beer bar is located in the lower Haight and fits in well with the other smoke shops, hair salons and cafes in the area. Given the fame of the Toronado, I guess I can see where one might come here with certain preconceived expectations. The place, of course, is a complete dive/dump, with bumper stickers, signs, cartoons and paraphenelia plastered every where. If that's not enough to convey the proper vibe, the day I was there the background music consisted of blaring metal music and later ZZ Top. Although I don't think there is anything dirty about the Toronado, the place just exudes a certain seediness. The patrons fit in perfectly with the neighborhood, and run the gamut from beer advocate beer geeks to skid row bums that can barely remember their own name. It just doesn't get any better then this.
The day I was here there was something like 40 beers on tap and the quality level was just off the charts. Three beers from RR (Pliny, Blind Pig and the porter), three beers from Schneider (Aventinus, Weisse and edel weisse), a couple of beers from Drake, Green Flash, Anchor and Speakeasy. There were also a couple of lambics, 5 or 6 Belgian trippels, dubbels and strong ales, and a few German beers for good measure.... and that's just what I can remember.
Pricing here is interesting and I assume represents market price for everything. Some of the Belgians and Barleywines struck me as expensive, but then pints of Blind Pig and Pliny were $4.50, while my 12 ounce tulip glass of Drake's imperial stout and DIPA cost just $3.50 ($4.50 for a pint). The guy next to me purchased a .5 liter of a German pilsner that cost just $3. Go figure. At the end of the day, I have to call the pricing here pretty reasonable.
A number of folks who have reviewed the Toronado have criticized the service here. Maybe they were here on an off night or something else was wrong, because I don't get it. The afternoon I was there I think there were some 20 patrons in attendance, with just the one bartender to handle the crowd. He was quick and efficient, and I never had to wait even a minute for a beer. While he didn't try to come off as my new best friend, he was pleasant enough and happy to answer any question I had. Given the crowd, I can see where he might get pissed pretty quick if you were slow to make up your mind or otherwise wasted his time. Still, considering the crowd, and considering the condition of some of the patrons sitting at the bar (who clearly were somewhat the worse for wear), I was impressed.
The Toronado is as close to perfection as I ever need to get. I'll be back every time and any time I'm in SF.
Edit from recent visit on 8/30/12. Nothing to add, except that if I could increase my score I would. Bartender (Stewert) was easily the most knowledgeable bartender I've ever run into (my jaw dropped when I heard him telling another patron about the maiden the shade beer on tap, and Ninkasi in general). He was also quick, friendly and a good conversationalist... he bought my last beer of Aventinus (he told me it was his right as a bartender when I tried to refuse... so I dumped some cash as a tip, which I told him was my right as a customer. He laughed and we smacked knuckles). I'll say no more, except.... I LOVE the Toronado!!!
Also got a sausage sandwich from the place next door (the Toronado has some arrangement with them, where you can just leave your sandwich basket from next door and the staff will take care of it). The sandwich was good, no doubt, but it wasn't exactly a culinary, life altering experience either. Still, it's nice to have the option of a bite to eat while having a beer or three.
01-31-2009 04:21:02 |
More by johnmichaelsen
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11-13-2013 16:18:31 |
More by Thrashsquatch
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $
Atmosphere- This is a bit subjective. The Toronado is loud, dark, and packed with all walks of life- from white collars to blue collars to tattooed skinheads! The music is blaring with heavy rock... and for me, I just loved it. CLEARLY this place is beer-centric. While I loved it, I can see how some others could be turned-off by the atmosphere.
Quality- The place is a little dark and dirty. But that is just the facility. The glassware and draught lines seemed to all be impeccably clean.
Service- There was a low ratio of bartenders to patrons, making it hard to get quick service. Fortunately, my wife and I got seats at the bar, which helped. I read that the bartenders get annoyed if you don't know what you want, but I found them to be perfectly friendly. Despite the fact that I know my beer, I was in a land where I wasn't familiar with a number of brands, and the bartender was quick to make some great suggestions.
Selection- I am very tempted to give them a perfect score here. Their draught and bottle selections were huge in numbers, and more importantly, EVERYTHING was a gem here. I have been to bars with a larger tap list, but Toronado still earns a place in my heart for having one of the best selections overall!
Food- While they don't serve food here, they allow you to bring in food from one of the establishments next door. I found a small vegan place that was actually amazing a few doors down. Truth be told, I am not a vegan... definitely don't seek-out vegan food... I really walked into this restaurant by accident, but went with it, and the food was just excellent.
Value- It's hard to remember, but I paid something rediculous like $5.00 for a tall pint of Pliny. Enough said.
11-02-2013 13:12:31 |
More by jgasparine
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Toronado in San Francisco, CA
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