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Although I went to college in the Bay Area, I have only had a handful of opportunities to explore San Francisco. Each time I go I find more to love about the city—there is so much to do and see and explore.

On my last trip up north a few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had some time to kill before an evening wedding and decided to grab a drink on our way to the ceremony. Minutes after we made this decision, we practically stumbled upon an Irish pub called the Irish Bank Bar & Restaurant sprawled out in an alleyway.

italian-bank-entryThe twinkling white lights around the bar’s off-the-beaten-path front door were what first caught my eye, but what made me stop in my tracks were the tables set up on the makeshift patio and the vintage tin signs that covered the pub’s exterior brick wall. I’ve never been to Ireland, but at that moment I felt as though I had somehow traveled to Dublin—especially since the venue was so removed from San Francisco city views.

The interior of the bar and restaurant was dimly lit and decorated with the same authentic-looking artifacts as outside. Guinness, Smithwicks, Bodingtons and the like were on tap, and the menu included fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Irish beef stew, although we unfortunately didn’t get to try to food.

italian-bank-decorOpting to take advantage of a gorgeous San Francisco day, we sat on the patio, reading the tin beer advertisements and taking in the all-around atmosphere of this hidden gem. Even our server was Irish, which made it even easier to live in my imagination and pretend I had traveled to the Emerald Isle.

In a world where access to smart phones mean Yelp and other dining recommendations are never very far away, I think what I loved most about this place was we discovered it completely by accident. No reviews were read or local friends were texted, just good old-fashioned right place-right time. And at that moment, the Irish Bank was exactly where I wanted to be.


10 Mark Lane (b/w Harlan Place and Bush St.)

San Francisco