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Sep 26, 2009 03:47 PM

Visitor wants a special place to have a drink

Thanks to all for the great places to eat on our visit, but now I am looking for a place to have a drink.

I'm looking for a great scene, place, ambiance to have a couple drinks. Real San Francisco, local hangouts. Not necessarily posh, just genuine. A hole in the wall will work. Maybe full of some interesting people. Hey maybe some serious bar flys too.

We will be at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival at Golden gate park, so close to there would also work, but we can cruise to find that special place. Hey maybe we can meet you for a drink...

Thanks. Looking forward to coming back to your great city.

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  1. I can think a few places. Mejool has a cool roof top patio and mod interior , The Redwood Room, very old boy posh, The 500 club, Mission hipster hang out, with some long time regulars, and Bourbon & Branch great drinks secrete speakeasy atmosphere. I imagine you will many more suggestions we have a lot of great watering holes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      Is the new incarnation of the Washbag, Washington Square Bar & Grill, anything like the old or has time taken its toll, specifically no Herb Caen and the rest of the ball team?

      Washington Square Bar & Grill
      1707 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1. re: wolfe

        i'm an old newspaper guy. the washbag was pretty cool in its day. i heard it reopened. i'll stop by for a drink in a few weeks.

      2. Trad'r Sam's on Geary and 25th might be the closest place with "ambiance", where
        that ambiance is primarily ancient, worn-out tiki. Rum drinks. Often hopelessly crowded.
        Despite that it has great potential for a memorable-in-a-good-way evening.

        Did you sell your Vespa to buy a fixie? In that case, Medjool's bare-bones rooftop
        might be the place for you. Otherwise in the Mission, the Uptown at 17th and
        Capp is a pretty genuine hole-in-the-wall (if not simply a hole) hangout -- you can
        watch the hookers right outside the big window. Or maybe the getting-to-be-
        quite-a-classic Rite Spot on Folsom and 17th a couple of blocks away. Rite Spot
        has actual often-tasty food too.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          I don't even think a fixie will let itself be caught at Medjool anymore. :)

          1. re: pockyjunkie

            "a great scene, place, ambiance" and "real San Francisco local hangouts" isn't really that specific. So I guess it sorta depends on what scene you are looking for.

            Nopa, Toronado, Zeitgeist and Rite Spot are all good suggestions - and all fit the criteria, because real San Franciscans go to all of them - but the scenes in each of those 4 are COMPLETELY different. So maybe the OP can be more specific about what he/she would ideally be drinking...and the sorts of people he/she'd want to be drinking with :)

            Regardless, I'd skip Medjool.

            I wouldn't necessarily recommend the Rite Spot to a visitor, since it's a bit random and not really destinationworthy, but I enjoyed it the one time I went, and some friends of mine are regulars. Apparently Friday pie nights are back, and I've heard the pie is good:


            1. re: Dave MP

              I second the skip Medjool vote. Also, a month ago I passed something tacked to a telephone pole on Valencia Street that was a flyer from Medjool management to "save Medjool". No idea what it was about but I advise checking first if it's still open if anyone has a hankering to go....

              1. re: originalfig

                The rumor about Medjool closing was from a few months ago.They are still up and running.
                The roof does have a great view, and I had an excellent Caipirinha there a couple weeks ago.

                1. re: pauliface

                  Haven't been, but much of the negative criticism I hear about Medjool refers to Medjool later in the night when it is more of a club than a restaurant with drinks.

                  1. re: vulber

                    vulber has a good point - my negative association with Medjool does mainly have to do with the scene later in the evening, when it's a club.

                    I guess earlier it would be pleasant enough, but aside from a potential rooftop view, there's nothing that special about it I don't think. I like many of the other options because they are experiences that are harder to find elsewhere.

        2. You might check out these, all close to GG Park, although the park is a big place and has several different "sides" and hoods surrounding. All are pretty much SF.

          Zam Zam - very SF but I'll let someone else describe it...gets play on TV shows.
          540 Club - very local, dive-ish in a clean way, turned a bit hipster
          Cliff House - Ocean view on a cliff, can get touristy but the later you go, the quieter it gets

          There's also a few Irish pubs on Geary/20th.

          Sutro's at The Cliff House
          1090 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121

          Persian Aub Zam Zam
          1633 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

          540 Club
          San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: ML8000

            Cliff House is pretty, but it is not a real San Francisco local hangout. Very touristy.

            1. re: Shane Greenwood

              The later you go, the less touristy it gets. The tour buses usually leave around 6-ish, i.e., dinner time. Any way that's how it was when I lived over there. Not a locals place but it has been in SF for quite a while.

          2. After the Bluegrass festival you can go south on Great Hiway to the Riptide Bar, 3639 Taraval just a few blocks from the beach. The original bar is steeped in history and it's full of locals.

            1. Bourbon & Branch is a serious endeavor, but I think it's the opposite of "genuine" and the concept was imported from New York.

              Some real local hangouts:

              Tosca Cafe
              242 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

              560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

              Tommy's Mexican Restaurant
              5929 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

              Pig and Whistle
              2801 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

              Toronado Pub
              547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA

              199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              3200 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

              688 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

              Edinburgh Castle
              950 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

              Abbey Tavern
              4100 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

              FireWater Chophouse
              2155 Market Place Blvd, Cumming, GA 30041

              3 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I was going to suggest Zeitgeist too. The scene is very local, Mission hipsters.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    oooh, that is a great list!! Love the cross-section of atmospheres/prices/attitudes and neighborhoods. And all great places to get a drink, for their own fairly unique reasons.