Coit Tower (credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

When it comes down to deciding which gay bars offer the best bang for your buck, there are bars in San Francisco that have withstood the test of time for good reason. These fabulous five listed below are successful because they know how to keep a customer happy, how to show them a good time and how to make them feel like returning for more. These five gay bars are absolutely, positively, without a doubt not your typical dive bar snores.

1900 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 252-0306

As far as dive bars go, you won’t find anything more casual and cool than Truck. A bit of industrial/vintage vibe is what this place oozes. Friendly bar staff and stiff drinks are what also make this bar one of the most-sought after places to hang in San Francisco. Order a Long Island, but be careful, as you might not remember the course of the night. Those inspirational ideas to jump on the counters and do the Dougie with a few other Long Island partakers will seem like a faded dream. The clientele describes this bar as having some of the most welcoming and friendly bartenders around.

Aunt Charlie’s Lounge
133 Turk St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 441-2922

Leave your bashfulness at the door when you come to Aunt Charlie’s. Posters and pictures with loads of flesh will adorn your eyes for most of the night. The bartenders are as friendly as friendly can get and the drag shows are some of the best. Unisex bathrooms might be a most catchy way to ‘go,’ at least for some exhibitionists and those who’ve thrown modesty out the window. This bar is your inclusive, casual joint. Just come as you are and get ready to be part of a relaxed, fun, crazy, authentically good time.

The Mix
4086 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 431-8616

Enjoy pool, punk rock and fabulous people watching at this lively bar. The neighborhood bar in the Castro is a fitting place to come in and throw back some pitchers or cocktails. It’s a simple place where you’ll be greeted by a friendly bar staff. There is a laid-back attitude and the place attracts unpretentious patrons. Venture out to the open-air back patio, which is shaded and equipped with Tiki torches, super fast bartenders, strong drinks and a diverse crowd. Sometimes there is a cover charge, depending on the night. For a detailed list of drinks and prices for happy hour, click here.

Twin Peaks Tavern
401 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 864-9470

This local tavern is that special kind of bar where everyone gets chummy with one another over a stiff drink and great atmosphere. The tables are close together, and oftentimes it’s common to see perfect strangers and groups sharing one table. It’s that kind of friendly. This is a refreshingly different gay bar in the fact that it has windows providing a great view of the Castro. The seating is hardly stiff, but rather comfy and inviting, plush and cozy. There are plenty of mixed cocktails to peruse off the menu. Try the bottomless mimosa as you look down onto people in the bottom level of the bar from the second level. Stained-glass lights, vintage furniture and great art give the tavern the inviting, warm veracity that most of its patrons have come to count on when they visit.

The Cinch Saloon
1723 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 776-4162

Charm galore fills this place on any given night. This Bohemian bar is still running strong after 40 years. The Cinch is one of the last surviving gay bars from the original 70s gay district, The Polk. Here you can make great friends, drink strong drinks and mix it up with a crowd that ranges from younger to older people. Loud music (sometimes heavy on the New Order, Madonna, Beyoncé), great pool tables, an outdoor patio area, popcorn, drag shows, upbeat vibes and a bevy of beers on tap are just some of the reasons why many patrons love this place.

Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kelly’s topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at