Best Reuse of a Historic Whorehouse - 2005
The Saloon Bar
This North Beach blues bar is perhaps the oldest drinking establishment still active in the city, having opened in 1861 as the Fresno Hotel Bar and survived several reincarnations (not to mention the 1906 earthquake and fire) since. Lore has it that a group of sailors rushed to save it from the approaching flames in '06, perhaps -- although no one can say for sure -- recalling fond nights spent at the old Fresno when it was a whorehouse. (During Prohibition, the place became a speak-easy.) These days, the Saloon is among the city's best blues dive bars, with music every night and two bands on Fridays and weekends (for a cheap cover of $3 to $5).