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Is there a 50's Style Night Spot in the Bay?

I have been watching the tv show MadMen lately, and was wondering if anyone knows of any bars or clubs or resturants with that really vintage atmosphere?
i have thrown a few cocktail parties with this theme, but am dying to go out on the town one night!!!

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  1. I have'nt seen MadMen. What type of joint are we talking about? Neighborhood bar or dress up and dance to the big band club? Are you looking for retro-50's or places where time has passed by with vintage people in it?

    1. Not 50's or 60's per se but you might want to check out Bix for the old school, SF vibe.
      Maybe dinner at Bix then drinks at Bourbon & Branch or Rickhouse? I know, speakeasy = 30's but still think it would be a fun night out.

      1. A friend described Pican in Oakland as "The bourbon drinks are fun. Men in felt hats and women who want men in felt hats." Which decade is that?

        Pican Restaurant
        2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

        1. Honestly I haven't been in forever, maybe ten years or more, but check out the gallery, particularly the main room at this website. As I recall it was very 50's-60's. At least that part seems to retain some of that character.


          7 Replies
          1. re: twocents

            I guess it depends on which night and which era.
            Friday July 3, 2009
            DJ Teeko and DJ TBA
            Summer is here and it's time to boogie down at Bruno's. DJ Teeko is droppin' the beats like it's hot. In the Cork Club, DJ TBA will have you on the dance floor all night dancing to an eclectic mix of hip hop, reggae, RnB and soul.

            1. re: twocents

              Sadly, Bruno's has both changed ownership and undergone a very unfortunate remodel. The music is DJs, rather than jazz or other interesting live bands, and the crowd has changed to reflect that.

              Bimbo's 365 Club is the most "retro" place I can think of in SF, but it is only open when they have a show happening: http://www.bimbos365club.com/

              A cool retro-ish bar that has live music some nights (Bossa Nova on Sundays, I believe) is Club Deluxe, 1511 Haight.

              Tony Nik's in North Beach has an old school feel, especially pre-dinner, when it's quieter.

              Cafe du Nord still has some atmosphere: http://www.cafedunord.com/

              1. re: dolcevita_sf

                Folks should know that Cafe du Nord and a number of other SF clubs (Slim's, DNA, Bottom of the Hill, great american) are under serious pressure by the state ABC. This has to do with food because the question is whether these clubs are "bona fide eating places", although the issue is complicated.

                And yes, bruno's is no longer retro. Du Nord and Bruno's have their moments, but it really depends on the band. At the du nord, get the ahi burger.

                Maybe it's a market opportunity?

                1. re: bbulkow

                  The atmosphere at Bimbo's 365 depends a lot on who's playing. It'll probably be feeling pretty Vega-retro (with an irony chaser) for the Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine show on Saturday.

                  I had some very good fried squid at Cafe du Nord the other evening, but I don't think there's any room for debate that it's a tavern rather than a restaurant. They have only a handful of seats where they can serve dinner customers, and the vast majority of customers don't order food.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I meant Bimbos. the Bruno's comment was mistaken. As previously mentioned, Bruno's is no longer retro.

                    Agreed about the band. This friday's (7/10) du nord show with Eggplant Casino will have some retro going on; any lavay smith show brings out the retro.

                    Glad to hear that the squid's doing OK. That kitchen always has its ups and downs.

                    The ABC might have a legal point, but suddenly changing its enforcement patterns after so many decades with no public complaint is very unfortunate. Like someone in sacramento is trying to keep their jobs because they have ongoing cases. And the culture war aspects: they're going after the DNA really hard because of the Bohemian Carnival shows.

                    I've never had the mexican food in the DNA, anyone tried it?

                2. re: dolcevita_sf

                  Looks like there is a sliver of old-school left in Bruno's: Good Evening Thursday is a one-night-only restaurant, (which may be a temproary arrangment???). http://landmarkhospitalitysf.com/brun...

                  Check out the report here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637339

              2. For dinner that captures some of that early 60s era (and d├ęcor), take a look at Marin Joe's in Mill Valley just off 101. The menu is old school, American meat & potatoes. The waiters still make caesar salad table side. The bar serves martinis in a proper (smaller) glass and there is usually a piano player tickling out some jazz standards. The crowd is typically casual, families, and a few older folks who have probably been going there for decades. It's a fun place for atmosphere. Food is hit and miss, stick to the grilled meat entrees, the tableside caeser, and creamed spinach. Avoid the pastas.

                Marin Joe's
                1585 Casa Buena Dr, Corte Madera, CA 94925

                1 Reply
                1. re: Shane Greenwood

                  Joe's of Westlake has a good old-school lounge, with live music, I believe. I ate there once, years ago, and would only return for cocktails. Reviews on Yelp and Check Please Bay Area are enthusiastic about the vibe, but not the food. http://joesofwestlake.com/

                2. That era was the golden age of tiki bars and there are a bunch to choose from.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                    Forbidden Island is probably the best in the Bay Area

                    Forbidden Island
                    1304 Lincoln Ave, Alameda, CA

                    1. re: Calvinist

                      Has anyone been to Forbidden Island since Martin Cate left?

                  2. Celias in San Rafael is a classic gringo-mex time capsule from the 1950's. It even has a cocktail lounge.

                    1. Nick's at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica is a still-50's restaurant with a lounge and also music on Friday and Saturday nights. I've only been there for lunch and their very good crab sandwich.

                      Nick's Rockaway
                      100 Rockaway Beach Ave, Pacifica, CA 94044

                      1. A swanky restaurant with a very Rat Pack vibe (red-flocked wallpaper, leather booths) is Alfred's Steakhouse, in the Financial District.

                        For dancing, the Top of the Mark, especially on Friday nights when they have a dance orchestra.

                        Alfred's Steak House
                        659 Merchant St., San Francisco, CA 94111

                        Top of the Mark
                        Number One Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108