San Francisco

Azul: Whether the music is Latin jazz or beat-bottom DJs, weekends transform Azul from weekday laid-back lounge to swank hot spot. 1 Tillman (at Sutter), 362-9750.

Badlands: The Castro's finest and best-dressed boys pour into Badlands as much for the dancing (straight-up pop in the evening) as for the scenery. Not-too-low lighting allows for intimacy without ignorance. 4121 18th St. (at Castro), 626-9320.

Balazo/Mission Badlands: Several nights a month, this art gallery (featuring everything from Latino artists to cartoonists) offers equally varied rock bands -- blues to punk -- in its cozy theater. 2811 Mission (at 24th St.), 550-1108.

Bamboo Hut: Full-on tropical décor and a full-on complement of tropical drinks make the Bamboo Hut a top-notch tiki bar. The Mai Tais flow on karaoke Wednesdays, but you'll have to pay $5 on Fridays and Saturdays to swing to the eclectic DJs. 479 Broadway (at Kearny), 989-8555.

Bambuddha Lounge: S.F. swank meets the Far East at Bambuddha, where well-dressed thirtysomethings sit at knee-high tables and groovy house beats dazzle Buddha figurines. Pay $5 on weekends, but come before 11 for fine dining and mingling out back by the pool -- and to beat the cover. 601 Eddy (at Polk), 885-5088.

The Bar on Castro: Ever since the Bar got a much-needed facelift, it's been wildly popular. Pretty gay boys and girls rule the dance floor, while unbelievably attractive bartenders tame the large crowds with well-prepared if pricey drinks. It's arguably the best place in the Castro to grab a cocktail; boogie to electronica, Top 40, and hip hop; and maybe find that special someone to take home. 456 Castro (at 18th St.), 626-7220.

Bazaar Cafe: Nightly entertainment ranges from acoustic music (Wednesday through Sunday) to a comedy showcase (Tuesday) to either a wine tasting or an artist showing (Monday). No cover, tasty food, a beer and wine bar, and a hearty appreciation for the arts make Bazaar a cafe for those with taste. 5927 California (at 21st Ave.), 831-5620.

Beach Chalet Brewery: At night live surf, blues, and jazz bands valiantly compete for attention with the Chalet's menu (full dinner served until 10 p.m.), handcrafted brews, and striking coastal view. 1000 Great Highway (at Fulton), 386-VIEW.

The Beat Lounge: Jazz cats of all types -- traditional players, vocalists, funksters, DJs, and even hip-hoppers -- converge nightly at this lax lounge, making it the city's slickest lesser-known jazz hole. 501 Broadway (at Kearny), 982-5299.

Beauty Bar: With its immaculate vintage décor and menu of pricey highballs, this oasis for the elite features a roster of top-shelf weekly DJs spinning everything from thumping house to groove-heavy soul. 2299 Mission (at 19th St.), 285-0323.

Bimbo's 365 Club: A spacious yet intimate venue for live music of all genres. Great sound, classy lighting, and staffers dressed like The Love Boat's Capt. Stubing come together to make this one of the city's finer concert halls. 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), 474-0365.

Bird & Beckett: With a quaint performance space and lots of good reading lining the wall, Bird & Beckett augments its calendar of literary happenings with folk singers, jazz combos, and acoustic music of a wide variety. Sunny outdoor seating and a relaxed atmosphere make it a cozy end point for a Sunday drive. 2788 Diamond (at Chenery), 586-3733.

Biscuits & Blues: This nationally renowned club in the heart of the theater district offers top-drawer electric blues for the business set seven nights a week. Its posh digs don't reference the seedy jook joints of the genre's history, but the food and drinks are reasonably priced and there isn't a bad seat in the house. 401 Mason (at Geary), 292-BLUE.

Bistro E Europe: A hotbed of Eastern European deep listening, this quaint, moderately priced bistro hosts live Gypsy-, Hungarian-, and Balkan-flavored performances every weekend. 4901 Mission (between Ocean and Geneva), 469-5637.

Blackthorn Tavern: If your idea of the rainbow's end is tipping back 20 ounces of Guinness and pining for the Irish shores, the Blackthorn Tavern is a dream come true. Its wide selection of treats on tap and an occasional live Celtic folk band make it an emerald gem in the heart of the Sunset. 834 Irving (at Ninth Ave.), 564-6627.

Blind Tiger: It's easy to miss the plain facade of this Chinatown DJ lounge, so just listen for the bumping house music and enter into a stylishly decorated two-story bar where the elite meet to greet and sip fruity drink treats. 787 Broadway (at Powell), 788-4020.

Bliss Bar: Though ripe with possibilities, the clean and cool Bliss Bar seems stuck in a bygone (see: dot-com) era. A bit on the pricey side, it saves itself as one of the only places in Noe Valley featuring live DJs. 4026 24th St. (at Noe), 826-6200.

Blondie's: With tasteful DJ residencies, sidewalk people-watching, enormous martinis, and the occasional live jazz combo, this Mission District hot spot is a must for people making the scene. 540 Valencia (at 17th St.), 864-2419.

Boom Boom Room: Couches and cocktails complement a blues and funk boogie, which makes shaking it on the checkerboard dance floor an old-fashioned must. Nightly, up-and-coming national acts play sweaty, steamy sets on the venue's small stage -- always a rollicking time. 1601 Fillmore (at Geary), 673-8000.

Bottom of the Hill: A down-and-dirty rock club complete with a pinball machine, sticker-smothered bathrooms, and a smoker's patio. Nightly entertainment ranges from loud-as-hell to what-the-hell-was-that. 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), 621-4455.

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