San Francisco Wine Bar: Bacar

bacar.jpgOccasionally I find myself saying a silent “thank you” to the vagaries of fate that kept Bacar from going the way of so many other Dot.Com boom restaurants that opened and just as quickly shut South of Market. In fact, I think Bacar has only gotten better with time. You can actually get a table within a reasonable amount of time without a reservation, you no longer have to fight through 6 layers of young professionals to get a drink at the bar, and, based on my last visit, the food has improved, too.

One thing that hasn’t changed at Bacar is its intense focus on providing what is one of the best wine tasting lists in the city. Offering between 50 and 70 wines by the half glass, glass, 250ml carafe, and 500 ml carafe on any given night, it has by far the largest list of any sit down establishment in the city. The list, organized roughly by varietal, changes no less than monthly, and is the work of owner sommelier Debbie Zachareas. The wine selection, nearly always served in appropriate glassware, has a heavy dose of California wines, but also spans most of Northwest Europe and Australia with smatterings of South Africa and Italy. The staff range from generally knowledgeable to expertly informed about the wines and are always willing to engage you at whatever level you’re interested in talking about wine.

Bacar has both an upstairs bar with stools and cocktail tables for wine patrons, as well as a downstairs bar and lounge which is open on weekends. Both spaces are done in a classic SOMA modern style, with the upstairs area being lighter and holding a live music combo six nights a week, while the downstairs is darker, quieter, and more intimate.

Now that the boom is over, Bacar has settled into a nice, upscale but not pretentious scene. The after-work crowds on Thursday and Friday nights make it lively, but thankfully it’s no longer the nouveau riche meat market that it was when everyone thought they were God’s gift to startups. It has become a local’s hangout for the thirty-somethings that live in SOMA, and is also a steady post business hangout, thanks to a happy hour that features discounted drinks and oysters on the half shell.

Food is available from Bacar’s dining menu of contemporary American cuisine, either in the form of their many small plates or as a full meal. Basic bar nibbles are available as well.

The combination of its winning wine list and sophisticated yet comfy atmosphere make Bacar one of the best bets for wine lovers in the city. Finally, here’s a special tip: on the first Monday or Tuesday of every month, nearly all of the bottles on the list are 50% off. Check the restaurant’s web site for details and exact dates.

WINE LIST: four stars

STEMWARE: three and a half stars

SERVICE: three and a half stars

FOOD: three stars

ATMOSPHERE: three and a half stars

OVERALL: four stars

448 Brannan Street (between 3rd & 4th)
San Francisco, Ca 94107
tel: 415.904.4100

Open starting at 5:30 PM Sunday thru Thursday, starting at 11:30 AM on Friday and Saturday. Last call at 11:00 PM weekdays, Midnight on Saturday.

Valet parking offered, though it’s pretty easy to find parking in the neighborhood.

Dress code: No official dress code, but the place attracts a business casual and comfy-chic type of crowd.