You just turned 21 (finally!) ; what's hot?
My oldest turned 21. (mind trip for me, too) She's bringing college friends from out-of-state to San Francisco and I would like her to give them a friendly taste of what we consider unique. Of course, she's interested in bars/lounges... where would you let your 21 daughter go? And I'm looking for any hip places that I would be out of place going to, but would be safe for her and her young friends. And, of course, they have student budgets. Thanks in advance.
Although I've not been Asia SF sounds fun for the experience. A dinner in North Beach and the late show at Beach Blanket Babylon would be my preference. I'm working on the same birthday for my son in the East Bay. I'm considering Luka's Taproom, Pizzaiola, Montero's for salsa dancing afterwards. Comments and more suggestions?
I have to strongly disagree with the recommendations for Asia SF and Beach Blanket Babylon. My food at Asia SF was terrible and the drinks were VERY expensive. The show is entertaining, but not worth the cost. I am in my mid-20's, I found BBB to be agonizingly unfunny, as did every one in my group.
There are many fun restaurants and bars in North Beach, Russian Hill, and the Marina. All neighborhoods that you would feel safe sending your just-21 daughter and her friends. It's easy to just wander around and go into a bar that is hopping. I recently had a great time at Amelie, a wine bar on Polk that had very good small plates.
I'm also in my mid-20's and agree wholeheartedly with Lamlex on trying to organize around neighborhoods that are known for their bar scenes rather than focusing on any particular restaurant.
Bunnysitter - I'd vote against Montero's for a 21st birthday. IMHO, the food isn't exciting (although their breakfasts are good) and although the place itself is ok for salsa, the few other bars around the area are pretty lame.
I would send them to the Mission, a neighborhood with plenty of cheap drinks, good food, live music, and lots of fun events. It is easy to reach via BART, bus or cab. The Latin American Club is a little dive bar that has a raised stage where I've seen lots of people have parties. Lone Palm and Beauty Bar might be fun, too. You could eat first (pretty cheaply) at Pizzeria Delfina or Ti Couz (for crepes).
Beach Blanket Babylon seems like a bit of an older crowd to me, probably not where I'd want to go for my 21st.
Betelnut Peiju-wu is an excellent Chinese beer house in the much safer neighborhood of the Marina. Depending on what type of crowd your daughter runs with, that area might be more to her liking than the Mission District. While the Mission is certainly more affordable on the whole, it is not always the safest place, especially late at night.
Betelnut's location on Union Street is close to a number of other classy and/or fratty drinking spots.
2030 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Mamacita is another Marina spot that, like Betelnut, features great food and drinks in a bustling and fun neighborhood.
2317 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Not trying to be intusive or smart but if she's 21, why not ask her? It's nice you're thinking of her...but on your 21st, did you want your parent's feedback on this? If she needs input, have her ask a friend that's still in SF. That info is going to be way more valuable then old folks and somehow I think the knowledge of the fun stuff will flow.
If you're worried about safety, make sure she's in a reasonable size group. 4-5 people are safe anywhere they'd probably end up.
The Mission probably is the place...or the Nob-loin or Tender-nob (area bordering the Tenderloin and Nob Hill). Bambuddha Lounge, Tommy's Joynt, Bob's Donuts, etc.
I came here to say what ML8000 just said. It's been a while since my 21st and I wasn't terribly sophisticated but I clearly remember having it all mapped out on my own.
That said, if Bourbon and Branch had existed that's probably where I would have gone. Or the Top of the Mark. Someplace distinctly different than any of the dives I'd been drinking in on a fake id for the previous three years.