San Francisco is among the nation’s top cities for tattoos, and with roughly seven parlors per 100,000 people, it’s no wonder the city has so many living works of art walking its streets. Don’t waste time wading through the options. Instead, check out the cream of the crop right here with this list of San Francisco’s best tattoo parlors.
Update: We’ve picked our favorite tattoo parlors in the East Bay. Find our picks here.
Hours: Daily – 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. (appointments recommended)
Legendary tattoo artist Mike Davis makes this tattoo parlor a San Fran favorite. Suffice it to say, the waiting list here is long. Book ahead for any one of the five great artists: Mike Davis, Ben Cheese, David Robinson, Luke Francis, Stefan Johnsson or Patrick Conlon. Their work can be viewed online, so choose the artist you feel best represents your artistic vision.
Hours: Mon to Sat – Noon to 8 p.m.; Sun – Noon to 7 p.m. (Walk-ins welcome, appointments recommended)
Don Ed Hardy might be most well known for his fashion brand, but he is a tattoo artist first and foremost. Hardy, whose free-hand work is unmatched, works and mentors at Tattoo City and is available Friday to Monday for artwork. This shop features several of the area’s best and brightest tattoo artists including Kahlil Rintye, Mary Joy, Jen Lee and Doug Hardy. Book well in advance, especially to get Ed Hardy himself.
Hours: Sun to Thurs – 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Fri to Sat – 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: $140 hourly (deposit required)
At Braindrops, tattoo artists Andrew Mann and Doug Fortin offer custom work and specialize in tribal designs. They are also more than willing to accommodate a wide range of tattoo styles, so don’y be afraid to check them out for varying kinds of artwork. Braindrops also offers piercing and a selection of locally-made jewelry.
Hours: Daily – 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Price: $150 per hour to $180 per hour/deposit required
An award-winning tattoo parlor owned by a female team, Black & Blue boasts artists who speak seven languages, making it a great place for tourists and locals alike. Because Black & Blue is within walking distance from hot tourist spots such as The Painted Ladies and the Asian Art Museum, expect to wait with others as you relax in this comfy atmosphere.
Hours: Daily – 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. (appointment recommended, must be made in person)
Price: $100 deposit required for appointments (credit cards and personal checks not accepted)
The six artists at Idle Hand are all unique in their tattoo work, so expect to get an individualized tattoo as well as amazing customer service in this exceptionally clean environment. Every tattooist here is an artist and each has his or her own non-tattoo artwork on display on the company’s website.
To legally get a tattoo in San Francisco, please bring valid ID showing you are 18 years of age or older.
Related: Best Art Museums in San Francisco
Parmeeta Ghoman is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. She specializes in shopping and style. Find some of her work on Examiner.com.