By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
Aunt Charlie's Lounge: Boys, girls -- what's the difference, really? Boys become girls as part of Aunt Charlie's "Hot Boxx Girls" show every Friday and Saturday night, a lip-syncing experience a few miles to the left. 133 Turk (at Taylor), 441-2922.
Avalon Ballroom: Hardly the cultural landmark it was in the '60s, the renovated ballroom now attracts a wider range of bands, from reggae to metal. But the 500-person, carefree venue still draws the hippies as it slowly becomes a mainstay on the jam band circuit. 1268 Sutter (at Van Ness), 673-5716.
Axum East: Despite tacky décor, Axum East attracts local working-class folk with its open mikes, jazz nights, and Monday Night Football -- not to mention some of the city's tastiest, most affordable Ethiopian food. 1233 Polk (at Sutter), 474-7743.
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 (eclectic pop vocalists in the afternoon, straight-up pop in 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.
Baobab: The combination of Creole food, Senegalese cocktails, and Brazilian music makes Baobab a wonderful multicultural celebration of food and fun. 3388 19th St. (at Mission), 643-3558.
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.
Bas: House, drum 'n' bass, and everything in between thump and grind at Bas, where partyers succumb to the rhythms of the dance floor. Expensive drinks and a surprisingly friendly staff make overcoming the butterflies somewhat easier. 383 Bay (at Mason), 441-3885.
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.
Beale Street Bar & Grill: From Monday Night Football (free hot dogs) to karaoke Fridays, Beale Street caters to the man of the house. Tap beer and greasy food huddle up with rock bands, jam bands, and bar bands at this friendly, feel-good dive. 133 Beale (at Mission), 543-1961.
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.
Big Heart City: This upscale SOMA den boasts a roster of local turntablists with a penchant for house, techno, and the occasional gothic/industrial set. With a great sound system and throngs of swanky clubbers in the VIP areas, it's a destination spot ready-made for partying into the wee hours. 836 Mission (at Fourth St.), 777-0666.
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.