Best Salsa Dancing - 2005
Sunday Afternoons at El Rio
Pulling a mambo on El Rio's luxuriant back patio on a balmy Mission evening is probably the closest thing in San Francisco to a night in old Havana. The festivities begin every Sunday with free salsa lessons at 3:15 p.m., then at 4 la orquestra de noche (Tito Garcia y Son de Cuba and Benny Velarde y Su Super Combo are perpetual favorites) sets up its congas and timbales and everyone hits the dance floor. The mood is fun and festive, the floor moves are often impressive, and the crowd is a happy mix of young and old and in between. Cover charge is $8; the music ends around 8, but the pool and pinball and La Floriditas cigars abide.