In Holland, dive bars are known as brown bars. These are bars that have typically been around for decades and have earned their place as staples in the community. Think along the lines of a pub in England.
Brown bars get their name from the tobacco stains that were common before cigarettes were banned. As always, these dives aren’t out to impress tourists—they’re here to keep the locals happy. Visitors often stumble upon these hidden gems by accident.
This was how The Dive Bar Tourist discovered the night pub called Bar San Francisco in Amsterdam.
If you don’t mind staying up late, Bar San Francisco, located near the Red Light District, is a must-see for the dive bar aficionado. It’s open from 10pm until 4am and is one of the latest bars open in the city.
For this reason, it’s unlikely you’ll see many fellow travelers passing through. You can feel confident you’ll get a genuine local bar experience with local people here.
This dive hosts great events, from art parties to theme parties to live music and more. The drinks are fairly priced, and it’s clear the bartender (at least the one The Dive Bar Tourist encountered) loves his job. If you need a recommendation, he knows his stuff and, after a quick quiz, will treat you to an alcoholic work of art you’re sure to enjoy.
The people can be a little rough around the edges—after all, it’s where a lot of the Red Light District folk go to hang out after work—but if you’re nice to the bouncer and bartenders your experience will be unforgettable.
There are three main things to love about this place:
1. The locals.They don’t pull any punches; they’re honest, they love to party, and they’re friendly. What other kind of people would you expect to meet in a bar at 3am?
2.The drink selection.Expect your basic beer selections and an exceptionalvariety of liquor. Whatever kind of drink you can imagine, they can make. It’ll be strong enough to put you under the table, too.
3. The atmosphere.It’s pretty roomy for a dive, but it does get packed a few hours before closing time. Bright, colorful lights set the mood for dancing, and there is a smoking area, if that’s part of the reason you decided to travel to Amsterdam.
Bar San Francisco
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Be sure to try: Flaming shots a.k.a. Firestarters
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