i had read a bunch of reviews about this place so i kind of knew what to expect… a slick looking space and a bunch of yuppies. when i walked in, i instantly noticed how large the place seemed with its huge vaulted ceilings. i also liked the exposed brick in the wall. but after being there a bit, the place just seemed *too* empty. maybe they needed some couches or something, but i just felt like i was in an empty warehouse or something. too much dead space. also, there weren’t that many people there either, so that made it seem even more dead. the bar itself was fairly small and i just kept having the feeling like some people had set up a makeshift counter in an empty building. ok, ok, obviously the place wasn’t just “thrown together”, but i just wasn’t feelin’ it. the drinks were pretty damn good though. i had a basil gimlet which although a bit of an odd combo, worked pretty well i thought.
Rye is at 688 Geary Street in San Francisco
Ok, this place just confuses me. i walk in and everyone at the bar is wearing fancy suits and probably trading stock tips. definitely not our kind of crowd. but then, as we push our way through to the back, the rest of the place looks like some kind of diner or something. hrm, that’s odd. one of my friends got the signature hot chocolate w/ brandy drink… ugh!! just smelling it made me feel ill.
Tosca Cafe is at 242 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco
from everything that i had read about this place and how cheesy it was, i somehow expected it to be really run down. i pictured it to be like a old battered reno casino, with grumpy frumpy old waitresses, a falling apart stage, and dirty floors. but i forgot to take into account that it’s in the Fairmont. so, we walk inside (all 20 of us) and realize that this place is actually a bit fancy, and we’re a bit under-dressed. hrm. this place is definitely kind of kitchy, but kitchy in an extravagant kind of way. it turns out that we have to pay if we want to sit at a table, so we just opt to drink at the bar. or at least try to drink at the bar. after 30 minutes of waiting, we still havent been able to order. finally, we give up… it just isn’t worth it. yeah, yeah, we never got to see the band float out or the fake rainstorms, but i somehow think that i’ll get over missing that stuff.
The Tonga Room is at 950 Mason Street in San Francisco
the big foot lounge was full as usual, so we ended up trying out the random bar that we found across the street. it wasn’t till all of us were inside and waiting for our drinks that we realized that it was a gay bar. oh well, no big deal right? so we get our beverages and take a look around while we drink them. it was only then that we noticed the painting. there’s a painting up on the wall of… a lion having sex with a man. yes, you heard that right… there is a painting of a man laying down w/ a lion mounting him doggystyle (lionstyle?). now, anything that two men (or lions) do together in the privacy of their own home is fine by me, but i gotta say that a painting featuring cross-species intercourse is pretty bizarre.
The Cinch is at 1723 Polk Street in San Francisco
wow, we made it to halfway. the goal is to hit 50 brand new bars in SF this year and we’ve now been to 25 before june is over. damn, we’re good. if only we could do this for a living….
anyways, this bar was pretty cool. the drinks are good and people can play boardgames etc. there’s this small room just big enough for 6 or 7 people in the middle of the bar. inside, we were surrounded by different games, old books, Mr.Potatohead, etc. and being in there almost felt like we were just hanging out in some kid’s room in a cabin. we just hung out, drank, and tested each other on random trivial pursuit questions. definitely a very comfortable bar to be in.
John Barleycorn Pub is on 1415 Larkin Street in San Francisco
My friend called me up andsaid to meet him here to go drinking in the tenderloin. i came out expecting a gritty, seedy, divey bar on a dirty street that smelled like urine. hopping out of the taxi, i looked around and realized that this part of the “tender nob” was much more “nob” than “tender”. the bar was decorated extremely elaborately with fancy stained glass windows, dark polished dark wood counters, and lots of other interesting decor including the most enormous bellows i’ve seen in a long time (ok, actually, it’s the *only* bellows i’ve seen in a long time). this would be a great place to have dinner (i hear the food rocks) and then keep drinking afterwards, but since we weren’t eating, and the beer selection was a bit limited, we took off after a little while.
O’Reilly’s Holy Grail is at 1233 Polk St in San Francisco
with a name like the red room, it’s fairly obvious what the theme of this bar is gonna be. the real question, is just how far they will go with the theme. just paint the walls red? have the seating be red too? well, here they really went all the way with it. everything in the whole place is red from the floor to the tables to the seating and even the small speakers that hang from the ceiling are red. the entryway to the bar has two walls made out of red translucent bottles which is a pretty cool effect. the drinks here were pretty good too and they had a bomb passionfruit mojito.
The Red Room is at 827 Sutter Street in San Francisco
Lucid is a really slick looking lounge that is divided into two floors. the main floor is all polished and nice looking, and the downstairs is all brick. when we were there, there was some really cool artwork on both levels. downstairs you could either dance to whatever dj was playing, or there was a sitting area where it was quiet enough to be able to talk and yet still hear the music really well. that was pretty cool since in most places, either the music is so quiet that it becomes background noise, or it’s at a million decibels and you couldnt carry on a conversation if you tried. given how nice this place looked, i expected drinks to cost a fortune, but they didnt. a lot of reviews for this place said that the bartenders were super rude and cold, but when i was there, they smiled a lot, served us quickly, and were overall friendly.
Lucid is at 580 Sutter Street in San Francisco
At the very top of Nob Hill is the Mark Hopkins Hotel, and the at the top of the hotel is the Top of the Mark. seeing as the hotel is 19 stories tall, and Nob Hill is pretty tall to begin with, the views from up there are phenomenal. there are small tables lining the huge windows where you can sit and take it all in. you can even sit on the windowsills which makes the view even more thrilling. actually, when i first saw some woman sprawled out on the windowsill, i thought “damn dude, some people are fucking wasted!”… but it turns out that this is perfectly acceptable behavior up there.
the atmosphere is pretty upscale (as is predictable when you see limos hanging out in front) and it had it’s fair share of snooty people. some guy in a tuxedo threw a hissy fit when he wasn’t allowed to sit at a table, even though it was clearly marked reserved for someone else. our waiter also, gave me the vibe like he was a bit above serving people like our group. but, it looked like at least some of the crowd was not all stuffy. the place had a huge drink selection, 100 different martini drinks. pretty much every conceivable combination of alcohols is on the martini list. the drinks are a bit pricey at 10$ a pop, but they were pretty strong. supposedly there is a 10$ cover charge after 9pm, but we somehow didnt have to pay. phew!
this definitely isn’t the kind of place i could see myself hanging out at often, but it was really cool to try it out and enjoy the views. really, this is what the new year’s resolution is all about… trying places that i wouldn’t normally have tried.
Top of the Mark is at 1 Nob Hill in San Francisco