On my last day of my trip to California. My last stop before the airport. Ambiance is of a traditional pub, a lot of wood and musky smell. Service is not friendly, and looked pissed when I asked questions. The reason to come here is selection only.. It was the belgian festival, they had well over 20 belgians on tap, and they had Pliny the Elder. Highly recommend the sausage place next door.
April 2008 - I’ve finally made it ... one of the all-timers on my wanna-visit list. And it was actually nicer than I’d be groomed to expect! This is definitely not your neighborhood yuppie beer bar. But it’s not quite the seedy joint I’d been led to believe either. It fits into the Haight scene, with an eclectic crowd of street backpackers to, well ... me. I think everyone was equally welcome. Of course, the draft beer selection was second to none and I found the bartender friendly enough. Classic.
I read about this and decided I must go. With friends in the lower haight, it was quite easy to find. My first impression was mixed, the bartender couldn’t find the tap of my requested beer and had to opt for another choice. I was a bit turned off, but had a great time... and the bartender totally changed my impression of the place when they brought me a glass of the first beer that couldn’t be found the first time on the house. highly recommended. expect anything. I highly recommend the cave’s awesome falafel to pair.
This place is a pretty interesting experience. Based on reputation I thought it would be bigger and have an outdoor area. When we walked in I thought well, this is a tiny ass hole in the wall place but holy crap their beer selection is awesome! I had been to 5 places in the Bay Area looking for Pliny the Elder on tap. I found it here! I had 2. Then I had a Lagunitas Hop Stoopid. The bartender was a hard ass but he did help me quickly once I got his attention. It was LOUD in there on a Saturday afternoon. People smoking weed on the sidewalk so the occasional scent of that wafts in. So, great beer, but not a place I could hang in often, and the bathroom as a nasty of a bar bathroom I have ever seen.
I went to the Toronado twice in the last week while on vacation. The first time I went was on 2/17/08 at the tail end of the BW Fest(mistake) and the second time was the night of 2/20/08. The place is basically a dive bar with maybe 10 tables and 20 seats along the bar. Lots of tap handles and other historical breweriana line the walls. My favorite was the passenger side door of the Bear Republic Racer 5 race car. The bartenders are not very friendly, basically to get served you have to wave some greenbacks at ’em. The place is CASH ONLY so be forewarned.
When I went on 2/17/08 I was too late for any of the good BW’s and they hadn’t replaced hardly any of the blown BW’s with their regular taps so there were probably 30+ empty taps. Anyway, that one is my fault. The night of 2/20/08 there were only about 10 BW’s left on tap but still only maybe 15 other taps up and running... Still many empty taps. Very dissappointing, I drank alot of Blind Pig those two visits. Ah well, bad timing on my part, slow tapping on theirs. The potential is definitely there though.
Toronado is a great bar in my opinion but only a very good beer bar.
Visited at 4:00PM X-mas eve of 2007, my two brothers in law and I were able to slip away from a family gathering. Toronado is a great bar because it is a dive and I love dives. It attracts everyone from long haired, pierced and tattooed twenty somethings to balding, gray haired sixty something beer enthusiasts. Its jukebox is all over the map. It only takes cash and does not serve its own food but you can get a sausage from next door. I imagine that it is jammed and loud on a busy night. However, I went at an off time and not many people were there. Another plus, it is open to 6:00PM on Christmas eve then opens at 5:00 on Christmas day.
As for the beer, yes it is very good, about fifty taps (I think four casks) and about fifty bottles. Very California and Belgium centric, which is very very good by any beer lover’s standards, but I do not think it is great. It is not that hard to be California and Belgium centric when you are a San Francisco bar.
In short, I love this place!!!
ojclark (5) Santa Monica, California | February 4, 2008
About 50 taps: 4 are cask beers. Great selection representing California (and other US) craft beers, with some very nice Belgian and European selections as well. Not the biggest selection I’ve seen, but certainly one of the best. No BS place serving great beers in an unpretentious atmosphere. Hundreds of tap handles, beer glasses, stickers, etc. decorate the walls. Dozens of empty 3L Duvel bottles lined up along back wall. Seems like CBGBs would have been like this had it been a beer bar. Service is not warm, but is generally very good.
A must stop for beer lovers in San Francisco. Crowded and noisy, but the draft beer selection is outstanding. I had an Anchor Old Foghorn and Drake’s Russian Imperial Stout, among others. Not to be missed.
Toronado is a definite must for any enthusiast visiting San Fran. Smaller place that gets a bit cramped on the weekend nights, and bar access can be tough. Somewhat reminds me of the old Liar’s Club scene in Mission Beach. But they have a great tap list and a broad cellar list that makes up for it. They always carry some bomb RR stuff, and the bottle menu will send you home with something.