Taps: 43 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 299 | Reviews: 287 | Show All Ratings:
4.6/5 rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5
I am another who read and felt the hype before venturing out to the Toronado, and now I can only say "Rock me like a Toronado". Although I guess "toronado" would be tornado, a word that is difficult to spell, like potatoe.
Rolled in well into the evening, and the scene was definitely already seeming to tail down. Lots of hipsters, but also some normal folk, and I like both hipsters and normal people, so it's good. Pretty crowded. I wasn't wowed by the atmosphere, but the haphazard arrangement of the excellently chosen beer memorabilia signs, magnums of Duvel, and the motley of appropriate glassware worked, if not too well.
The two bartenders were gruff, but service was quick, and my hand-pulled Moonlight Twist of Fate was done well.
Hard to comment on selection besides that it's excellent. About 30 brews on-tap, and lots of Belgians, which is rare. Probably about 10 winter seasonals going. I had a Deschutes Jubilale. I only saw a few bottles listed on the chalkboard, and I didn't see a menu. 3 Handpullers, including one running Drake's IPA.
Regular pints are $3.50, which is a deal.
I'll hope to go back many times to this bar, and hopefully add some more to this.
11-29-2004 02:59:28 | More by donnebaby
4.6/5 rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
Where to start...this is my first ever review on BA, so I decided to do it on my favorite pub in SF. After reading all the reviews I have decided that I pretty much agree with everything except for the service. Depending on where you grew up, the atmosphere will either be a plus or a minus. I grew up in the Bay Area, but not on SF, but felt prefectly fine sitting, chatting and drinking at the Toronado. It's not in the best of area's, but not in the worst either. Since discovering this place about 6 months ago, I have never been acosted by anyone trying to panhandle or sell me drugs. The parking isn't exactly fun, but my friend and I have always been lucky enough to get a spot close by. Even if we do have to run out and put another 4 quarters in the meter. Admittedly, the place is kinda dark and a bit gloomy, but I have never had a problem with the cleanliness. It's a very different place. You will find all sorts of people there. From businessmen, to jocks, to foreign visitors...or anyone. Even dogs! One of the bartenders has two cute dogs that will even sit next to you on a bar stool and share a drink with you if you call him up. I guess that's fine since there is not food served there and they are very friendly dogs. They have a jukebox for entertainment which has a VERY ecclectic assortment of music. From Johnny Cash, to random local punk bands to modern popular music. As for the beer (the main reason you are reading this), the selection is incredible. Only one other bar I have been to has more taps (The Englander in San Leandro), but they don't even come close when it comes to Belgium beers. The prices are pretty decent, especially if you come during happy hour during the week. They are $1 off all draft beers except for a select few. So, you can get a Belguim beer that you may have not heard of from anywhere from $3.25-7.25 poured in a authentic brewery glass. The majority of the beers are in the $3.25 to $5.50 range, plus a dollar off during happy hour equates to very good prices. Where else can you get a Radenberger pils served in a 1/2 liter glass for $2.50!! The food next door is very good (Mystic Pizza to the right and a great sausage place to the left) and you can bring them in the bar to eat. They will just bang on the wall when they are ready for you to pick them up. Lastly, the service is fine. As long as you aren't a drunk idiot or an jerk, you won't have a problem. Sometimes they can be a bit of a smartass, but hey, are you there to have a few beers and fun, or to be bothered by a few smart remarks. If you have a decent sense of humor, are down to earth and want a great selection of beer, this is the place to come. Just bring cash and enjoy a few hours here. That's what I try to do once every week or so.
09-10-2004 21:19:00 | More by GClarkage
4.94/5 rDev +16.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | $$
This bar is a beer lovers paradise. While alot of people has knocked the service, the bartenders respect beer more than any other bar i have ever been to. Every beer is served in its proper glass with the right head (the aventinus is a sight to behold). I ordered a Westy 12 off the bottled list, and the bartender apologized that he had to pour a little in the chalice to keep it from overflowing. He was also good for recommending followup beers. The selection is unbeatable, especially for belgium and northwest junkies. The prices are generally cheaper than other bars comparatively, but hardly any of the list can be found in other bars.
07-13-2004 07:42:06 | More by axisjones
4.13/5 rDev -2.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 5
I recently made another pilgrimage to the rightly infamous Toronado bar during their annual Barleywine Festival.
My first impression of the place when I walked in was : "Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into?" The Toronado feels like a cross between a bad biker bar and a hippie hang.
But oh the difference looking up and seeing that beer list makes. When last our hero was there, it was the Barleywine festival. So right off the bat there were 51 barleywines on tap/cask. This is almost all of Toronado's taps and handpumps. (Others were saved for varioushouse beers like Cantillion Vingeronne, etc) Now when the Barleywine festival first starts there isn't room to spit in the joint as everyone is packed in.You better be quick to order too. Get your three-four samples and get out of the way. Oh and if you want a chance to try them all, get there on one of the first two days.. by Sunday evening there were already out of 15+ barleywines.
Service is questionable here. The bartenders definately rule the roost and have been trained in the New York school of rude. But if you're quick with your orders or smart with their questions, they don't mind.
Food doesn't exist, but Mythic Pizza rocks as does the Sausage joint and the Toronado allows you to bring their stuff in. (High advisable during the BW fest)
Don't forget to bring cash here to the bar as they'll laugh at you if you try and pay credit. There's an ATM right outside Mythic Pizza for the purpose of rescuing lost Toronado souls!
Remember, this is one of the place that I tell people they must go to if they're looking for beer in San Francisco. Yeah.. service can be mean.. yeah the place is 3 screws away from collapsing.. but that beer list and the quality of the beer wash away a lot of sins.
02-28-2004 19:50:29 | More by drewbage
3.56/5 rDev -16.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5
I spent a few hours in Tornado with some family and friends. The atmosphere is pleasant, but the music was too loud for talking over. The clientele were relatively young and (working class) trendy. The selection of beer was quite good, but the service was chez pretence. Once my brother-in-law irritated one of the "servers" -- that ended up being the kiss of death. We had to wait extra long to get the next round.
There are numerous beers on tap and in the bottle. Many European beers, craft beers and a fair selection of Belgians. Parking is a world class nightmare.
02-26-2004 23:59:08 | More by SeanChouffe
3.8/5 rDev -10.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5
My first trip to Toronado will most likely be my last. The selection of beers was great, but when asking questions about some rare Belguim beers, the bartender was rude and arrogant. So I tried on of thier cask ales, which I will say was pour properly and was great ( Moonligh Brewing Twisted Feet). They don't have food, so if you are hungery the pizza palce next door is a good place to get a slice. I think you can bring it in to Toronado, but I wasn't going to ask the bartender another question.
Two drunks away from dive bar status this palce is dark and gloomy with a decent jukebox. The beer selction runs the gammut and so does the price range. To help the pocket book hit happyhour where I think it's a buck off draft beers, but again that question thing with the man behind the bar.
02-20-2004 21:23:36 | More by boussh
3.65/5 rDev -14.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 1 | selection: 5
Where to start? The Toronado is sui generous, the one and only, in all it's tattered glory. It is by turns sublime and vile, but never pedestrian. I have had the best beer experience of my life, and the most atrocious service of my life within those confines. Lets start with the sublime; We were there on our regular roving Wednesday happy hour, happily testing the wide selection of superb Belgians (as I recall, I had a Duchesse, Walt went with the Maredsous, Natasha, as usual, the Hoegaarden, Karen had the Chimay, and Chops bucked the trend with a Moonlight, either Death & Taxes or Twist of Fate) on tap. Much laughter and frivolity ensued as the next round included a Rojo (Bass with a bit of Lindemans Lambic), a Delerium Noel, and a few Cuvee Noels (yes, it was December). I dont remember the list of the next round, but you get the idea of the quality of selection. All on tap in the right glasses. A buddy of a buddy happened to have drifted over at some point to our table, and in our highly discerning state he was able to talk us into trying a $35 bottle, sight unseen. We were promised not to be disappointed, and I have probably never been less disappointed in my life. We were suddenly drinking an effervescent ambrosia the likes of which I had never imagined. It was, of course, Deus Brut Des Flandres. I was floored to still be able to be astonished by the Toronado after all these years. I should have known that to frequent this bar is to always be ready to be floored by something astounding.
On the other hand, as has been mentioned, the service can be a bit, well, less than exemplary. The best example is the time we went in with some friends in part to catch a ball game on TV. The front room was full so we went into the back, where the TV was on, but tuned to the wrong channel. We asked for it to be changed as we ordered the first round (it has a piece of plexiglass preventing unauthorized channel changing). We asked politely, since it was actually busy, when we ordered the second round, tipping generously as an incentive. When Natasha finally got too tired of waiting, she went to ask a third time. After another 10 minutes, he came over with remote in hand, looked at us, looked up at the TV, and began clicking through the channels. When he got to the game, he paused, gave us another look, and changed it back to the channel it was on when we walked in. He walked away as we all sat there slack-jawed.
This, as well, was an astounding experience. I am actually enough of a regular now to get free beers from the bartenders every once in a while, but I still dont like the attitude, even if its not aimed at me anymore. Its probably just as well, because that attitude keeps me from being too much of a regular, and has probably saved me hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years. I still havent tipped that waiter (the one who frequently wears a baseball cap). He must think I am the cheapest bastard on earth. Or maybe he remembers. Who knows. That is what you get with the Toronado. Walt actually got a quarter thrown back at him by one of nicer bartenders, yet we will both be there this Wednesday, anxiously trying the new arrivals
01-13-2004 23:19:07 | More by quetzpalin
4.18/5 rDev -1.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5
The Torando is in a lousy location. If you only get asked a handfull of times about alcohol and drugs on the way there you are doing pretty good.
The inside is wooden and dark. The half door keeps the transient population at bay.
The day of my visit there were a couple of dogs running around sniffing crotches inside which detracted from the whole experience. The selection is very good as was the quality and service when I visited, but the place was not busy.
They do not serve food, but the sausage place around the corner is excellent and they let you bring it in. You can park on the curb at a meter, I parked a few blocks away and will not make that mistake again.
12-09-2003 03:25:29 | More by GCBrewingCo
4.14/5 rDev -2.6%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5
The Toronado gets mixed reviews, and it’s easy to understand why. Depending on when you go, where you sit and who serves you, the place can run the gamut from sublime to unbearable. The only constant is beer: Unmatched in SF for variety and quality.
Located in the funky, gutter-punk infested Haight area of town, the Toronado sees its share of characters on both sides of the bar. This can be good or bad, and yes, sometimes the bartenders do run a tad on the surly side. Even at their worst, though, they are generally quite efficient and knowledgeable.
Staff and patrons aside, the atmosphere is generally tolerable, though far from cozy. The main room features a traditional wooden bar, with a few tables on the opposite wall. It has a decent jukebox and, as mentioned before, it contains a great variety of beer paraphernalia, including dozens of old taps on its flat gray walls. The barroom is somewhat open, which keeps the place fresh most of the time, but on cold, rainy nights it can be a bit drafty. The bar also has back room which, unless you’re a junkie, you should forget about: dark, dank, cold, packed with uncomfortable metal chairs and ripe with the fumes of the bar’s filthy, graffiti-covered restroom.
Ah, but it’s the beer you came for, and beer you shall have. Listed on a ceiling-mounted menu (possibly salvaged from a ‘60s McDonalds?) are the evening’s 40 tap selections, all top-notch. You’ll always find a few local craft brewers’ collections, some Belgians, some Germans, some seasonals and one or two hand-pulled real ales. There is usually at least one example of almost every genre (lager, ale, wheat, IPA, porter, stout, etc.) available on tap, with many, many more available in the bottle. And all are served in the correct glassware. It’s hard to beat.
If you find you simply can’t stand the atmosphere, or if your date is a real shrinking violet, you might want to check out the slick, upscale Thirsty Bear in SoMa. Otherwise, this is THE place for beer in SF.
11-26-2003 02:07:56 | More by WetCoaster
3.73/5 rDev -12.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $$
Walked in, lotsa regulars, long bar, lotsa tables, one tv. A TON of beer paraphenalia -- mostly old beer taps and some posters and such. The wall is lined with magnums of Duvel.
The bartender was this long haired guy who was really impatient. Not really very helpful. But the beer is served in true beer glasses: we ordered Aventinus in tall Aventinus glasses that were widened at the top. Other people were drinking belgian ales from special glasses too. I think I saw 3 beers on hand pump. and like 40 beers on tap. Aventinus, Schneider Weisse Hefeweizen... Several Belgian ales which I can't remember... Maudite, De Konnick, Unibroue, Chimay triple... just a lot of Belgian ales... other good beers -- Anderson Valley, Speakeasy, Moonlight, Full Sail, Deschutes, Hoegarden, Franziskaner, etc.
97% men. two dogs. Bartender kept picking crappy music -- country music or loud/annoying rock.
I gave the place a 3.0 for food because there's lots of cheap restaurants nearby, like Rosamunde and the shawerma place.
Summary: good for wheat beer and belgian ales, not the greatest for hanging out.
11-17-2003 06:04:38 | More by oggg
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Toronado in San Francisco, CA
94 out of 100 based on 299 user ratings.