Champagne adds sparkle to any special occasion, but we prefer it best on your average weekday, paired with potato chips and friends.
Toast to the weekend or to whatever you fancy (Valentine's Day if you must) at San Francisco's best spots for a pop, clink, and fizz.
Let us begin by saying that we're bringing you the following list in no particular order. However, it must be said that, for as long as Jardinière holds its pride of place just behind the grand cultural palaces of Civic Center, the restaurant—chef Traci Des Jardins' ode to California-French cuisine—will forever sit atop any list of where to drink Champagne in San Francisco. Its gold-domed ceiling was designed to evoke a Champagne flute, for heaven's sake.
Jardinière, now in its 21st year, is the grande dame—the OG—of celebration spots in the city, whether before or after (or during) the opera, ballet, or symphony, or for birthdays, anniversaries, engagements—you get the picture. Expect exquisite vintages—such as Bollinger R.D. Extra Brut 2000 and Philipponnat "Clos des Goisses" Brut—that pair equally well with the restaurant's classical caviar presentation and a weeknight burger which, we think, is always worth a toast. —S.C. // 300 Grove St. (Hayes Valley), jardiniere.com
Leo's Oyster Bar
In addition to having some of the most Instagram-worthy decor in town, Leo's Oyster Bar—from the effervescent team at Big Night Restaurant Group and with shiny design by Ken Fulk—is also home to a dazzling list of sparklers. Wash your oysters down with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs or Lanson Brut Rosé. -A.S. // 568 Sacramento St. (Financial District), leossf.com.
You'd be hard pressed to find better spot for a girl's night out than the women-owned and -run Champagne bar The Riddler. Order from 100-plus different Champagnes—half bottles, brut, brut nature, rose, blanc de noirs, blanc de blancs, demi-sec—you name it. Pair your bubbles with caviar and potato chips, and even try a chambong (yes, that a Champagne bong, but it's still elegant, trust us). Don't miss an Instagram op at their Champagne bottle mural outside. —S.C. // 528 Laguna St. (Hayes Valley), riddlersf.com.
Tucked away in Hayes Valley, Petit Crenn—chef Dominique Crenn's more accessible brasserie inspired by her native Brittany—may still be known for its pre-fixe dinners (two seatings nightly, by reservation), but that doesn't mean it's not a perfectly charming spot to slurp oysters and bubbly at the bar (seats are first come, first serve so arrive early). Lovely might include the 1985 André Beaufort Grand Cru or a 2010 Pierre Gimonnet, 'Special Club,' Grand Terroir. —A.S. // 609 Hayes St. (Hayes Valley), petitcrenn.com
Popped open at the beginning of 2019, Ungrafted is a casual urban wine bar and restaurant from a couple of sommeliers, who have hired a staff of only sommeliers to run the place. This translates into an incredible wine and Champagne list made for drinking any day of the week—think bottles of Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs and Peter Lauer. There are six bubbles available by the glass, poured alongside juicy fried chicken and caviar arepas. If you're loving what you're drinking, grab a few bottles to go. —S.C. // 2419 3rd St. (Dogpatch), ungraftedsf.com
San Francisco Champagne Society
(Courtesy of San Francisco Champagne Society)
It almost sounds like a secret club, but the San Francisco Champagne Society is actually a reservation-only Champagne lounge where you can sample your way through different glasses of bubbly. Expect a private, guided experience tasting some of the rarest small-batch Champagnes produced (they specialize in small grower-producers who fill as few as 10,000 bottles each year). After you've visited once, opt to enroll in their "concierge service," where, much like a wine club, the SFCF will select and deliver personalized individual bottles or cases of Champagnes for you on a regular basis. —S.C. // 1097 Howard St. (SoMa), sfchampagnesociety.com
If you've ever been to any of Anna Weinberg's restaurants (Marlowe, Park Tavern, The Cavalier, Leo's), you know the woman and her team love themselves some Champagne, especially of the rosé variety. Petit Marlowe is your quintessential French Champagne–drinking dream, with soft pink booths, antique brass light fixtures, a marble bar, and pink toile wallpaper because of course. In other words, the ambiance calls for bubbles. Snag a glass (or bottle) of the Big Night Bubbles, a special brut rose developed by the restaurant group. Special format options include Brut Krug Grand Cuvée and a Brut Bollinger La Grande Anée. That, plus a seafood tower from the raw bar and you'll be good to go. Don't miss oyster happy hour (4-6pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays). —S.C. // 234 Townsend St. (SoMa), petitmarlowesf.com
If you're one to pair your bubbly with upscale eats, Avery is your spot. This fine dining restaurant offers seven and 10-course tasting menus each night, focused around creative, seafood-centric American cuisine. For each meal, find a special menu of Champagne pairings available, thoughtfully curated to accentuate the food just so. —S.C. // 1552 Fillmore St. (Fillmore), averysf.com
We're pretty sure an amazing view automatically makes anything taste 100x better, and Charmaine's has one of the city's best vantage points. On the rooftop of the Proper Hotel, the lounge also benefits from posh Kelly Wearstler design, as well as a selection of more than 10 sparklers including Dom Perignon and Taittinger Brut La Française. —S.C. // 1100 Market St. (Civic Center), properhotel.com
(Courtesy of Barbarossa Lounge)
Barbarossa is what many may remember as the Bubble Lounge. While this 1800s jailhouse turned cocktail bar has a new name (inspired by its criminal past), it still has all the sparkling delights of its predecessor—think 30-plus bottles, Champagne tasting flights, and rare varietals. Sip a Dom Perignon 1996 Rose or Louis Roederer, Cristal 1989. Oh yeah, and stop by for their $1 Champagne and oyster hour on Mondays. —S.C. // 714 Montgomery St. (Jackson Square), barbarossalounge.com
Fool's Errand checks all the boxes for what we want in a neighborhood wine bar: perfectly casual yet subtly sexy, the place can swing it for cozy meetups with friends or even date nights. The wine list is tactfully curated, with French bubblies like Cedric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne - Les Urseles and Frederic Savart l'Accomplie. —S.C. // 639A Divisadero St. (NoPa), foolserrandsf.com
When you think of Foreign Cinema you undoubtedly think of elegant Mediterranean-inspired food and the dreamy outdoor courtyard with movies quietly rolling each evening. Make sure you also file this under where to your Champagne fix—you can choose from four Champagnes by the glass, several magnums (like Egly-Ouriet Brut), or one of their 40-plus bottles including Salon Brut Blanc de Blancs or house-favorite Domaine Vouette et Sorbée Extra Brut. —S.C. // 2534 Mission St. (Mission), foreigncinema.com
If you're looking for labels like Bollinger and Ruinart, Cliff House is not your destination. Still, there are few things we enjoy more than a strong view served up with a glass of bubbly. Post-hike at Land's End, head over to the oceanside restaurant Cliff House to refuel over popovers and sparklers, or pop in for the Sunday brunch buffet with endless Champagne pours. —S.C. // 1090 Point Lobos Ave (Presidio), cliffhouse.com
Arlequin Wine Merchant & Cafe
Arlequin Wine Merchant and its adjacent cafe are among Hayes Valley's most low-key gems. Part store, part bistro, Arlequin always has a great selection of wine and Champagne, plus good snacks and a secret-garden-esque patio in the back where you can easily while away your afternoon. Enjoy some bubbles in this oasis, or pick up a bottle for a rainy day. Keep an eye out for their annual Champagne tasting event in the fall for a chance to sip on 40-plus classics and rare bottles, and snag featured Champagnes at discount prices. —S.C. // 348A Hayes St. (Hayes Valley), arlequinwinemerchant.com
This article has been updated for February 2019.