Best Hard Rock Bar/Thai Food Paradise - 2006
Bender's Bar and Grill/Experimental Thai Kitchen
806 S. Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94110
Long a headquarters for the Mission District's substantial population of bike messengers, aging rockers, rockabilly chicks, and other tattooed toughs, the endearingly grimy spot that is now Bender's Bar isn't a place one would intuitively turn to for expert Thai food. Frequent hosts of benefit parties and providers of free BBQ on Sunday afternoons, the folks at Bender's may have recognized the void left when chef Tai Wei closed his Yamo Thai Kitchen; they continue to promote the civic good by partnering with him. However it happened, this is a match made in Mission-weirdness heaven. Cue up some Dead Kennedys on the jukebox, flash your bike key to get the bike-messenger drink discount, and belly up to the Experimental Thai Kitchen's counter (located way in the back) for an amazing, hand-crafted Thai food experience. Wei specializes in veggie fare, but meat dishes also feature on the constantly changing (and very spicy) menu. If you've ever wanted to chase a dish of cinnamon-flecked blanched seasonal fruits in dark chocolate-palm sugar sauce with a shot of Jack Daniel's while a rowdy burlesque show unfurls before you, here's your big chance.