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Bars & Clubs

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best New Club Infusion Lounge Best Dance Club Mighty Best Club DJs Adrian and Mysterious D Best Jazz Club Yoshi’s Best Club Theme Night ‘Bootie’ Best Strip Club Lusty Lady Best Bar Zeitgeist Best Brewpub Magnolia Best Cocktail Bar Alembic Best Wine Bar Hotel Biron Best Pickup Bar Delirium Best Dyke Bar The Lexington Best Gay Bar Truck Best Dive Bar 500 Club Best Karaoke Bar The Mint Best Hipster Bar Zeitgeist Best Irish Bar Irish Bank Best Smoking Bar Amber Best Happy Hour Chevy’s Best Jukebox The Phone… More >>
  • Best Jukebox of the Future

    Ecast

    This year, you can keep your quarters in your pocket: The category of Best Jukebox has gone digital. As evidenced by flatscreens in bars all over the city, the old analog jukebox is officially retro. A local company, Ecast, seems to have a lock on the new juke. One of its interactive screens now hangs next to the pool table… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club Night

    'Pacific Standard Time' at 330 Ritch - CLOSED

    Most hip-hop club nights are either too underground or too commercial. But 330 Ritch's "Pacific Standard Time" is that rare exception: Like Goldilocks' porridge, it's just right. Now in its fourth year, the club night — hosted by DJ Sake One and co-promoted by Ankh Marketing — has given the over-25 grown 'n' sexy crowd a reason to go out… More >>
  • Best Club DJ

    J-Boogie

    When local legend J-Boogie is on the decks, you know you're gonna hear a set that's eclectic, diverse, inspired, multicultural, and interesting, no matter what the evening's theme or style happens to be. Well-versed in hip-hop, reggae, house, drum 'n' bass, Latin music, and downtempo, the Boogie Man's versatility is rarely matched. And while many DJs just play records, he… More >>
  • Best Club Promoter

    Hakobo

    Chances are, if there's a hot, happening, and future-thinking trend in clubland, Hakobo and his Fresco parties introduced it to Frisco. He is the man responsible for bringing venues like Pink, Mighty, and Mezzanine such infamous parties as "Disco Not Disco" (which offers free admission "for those rockin' roller skates"), "Wonder-Full" (an entire evening dedicated to the musical genius of… More >>
  • Best New Club

    Triple Crown - CLOSED

    Even though it's still less than a year old, Triple Crown is a triple threat as a nightlife establishment, with tasty food, strong drinks, and great music. Its open-minded musical policy has attracted some of the more notable disco, house, electro, and funk DJs in town to spin at recurring happy hour and evening events with colorful names like "Brownies… More >>
  • Best Worldbeat Dance Night

    Last Tuesday of the month at the Elbo Room

    So, you've heard of Fela Kuti, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, right? The Nigerian political activist and father of Afrobeat (an infusion of jazz, funk, and psychedelic rock) died in '97, but his legend lives on at the Elbo Room every last Tuesday of the month, when Afrobeat admirers gather and gyrate to Baba Ken… More >>
  • Best Lowbrow Dance Club

    Delirium

    Say the phrase "dance club," and many people's minds conjure the following: blinding laser lights, lines down the block, and drinks so spendy they'll flip your mortgage if you order more than two. But not at Delirium. That's because it's a dive bar that just happens to have a dancefloor — or, to be more accurate, a dark-walled rear room where… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear the Worst Music

    'Worst Music Ever' at the Knockout

    At the Knockout's free party "Worst Music Ever," held the first Thursday of every month, Dimitri Dickinson, Ryan Poulsen, and friends drop the bombs that usually drive people away from bars. Here they spin clunkers like Chris De Burgh, Smash Mouth, and Robbie Nevil to court drinkers with a healthy sense of humor. "Worst Music Ever" welcomes the backlash against… More >>
  • Best Semi-Nude Dance Party

    Club Neon's Valentine's Day Underwear Party

    What better way to spend Valentine's Day than with your pants off? In public, no less. Every year, the folks behind Club Neon flip the switch on that old Jermaine Stewart classic and prove that, while you don't have to take your clothes off to have a good time, it sure as hell helps. Since 2005, DJs Jamie Jams and… More >>
  • Best Dance Club Revival

    Paradise Lounge - CLOSED

    It may seem insane to open a nightclub during the current economic freefall, but that just makes the people behind the newly refurbished Paradise Lounge that much cooler. The venerable SOMA venue's latest incarnation is similar to its last one — as a dance club. (Locals with long memories might miss the '90s version, with its all-live music format, but… More >>
  • Best Place to Pretend You're a Redneck

    Bloodhound

    It's appropriate that a state in which Clint Eastwood once held elected office should pay some kind of homage to the cultural trappings of the Wild West, but San Francisco, obsessed with its self-endowed status as an island of ironic high culture, has pitifully few entertainment offerings in this vein. Bloodhound, a new SOMA bar, goes some way toward remedying… More >>
  • Best Setting for a David Lynch Remake of Carrie

    The Make-Out Room

    There's retro kitsch ... and then there's just plain weird. The Make-Out Room's choice of interior design most definitely falls into the latter category. With its prom-gone-wrong decor (streamers hang from the ceiling like innards from a piñata that was gutted in the late '50s, then forgotten and left to rot in grandma's basement), the Make-Out could almost be a… More >>
  • Best Place to Pretend Drum Machines Never Ruined Music

    Sunday Nights at the Attic - CLOSED

    Maybe we're getting old, but we've been feeling more and more curmudgeonly every time we settle into some club or bar that blares thumping techno so loud we can't even think straight, much less talk to anyone. Doesn't anyone remember when crooners like Al Green and Curtis Mayfield were all the party anyone needed? Thankfully, someone does: Every Sunday at… More >>
  • Best Place to See Little Bands Before They Blow Up

    'Popscene' - CLOSED

    The older we get, the younger the scene becomes, and the longer this club night has had its finger on the pulse of alternative pop. Founded by Aaron Axelsen and Omar Perez, the intrepid party claims to be the longest-running indie weekly in the country. For more than a decade, "Popscene" has brought you the Spin cover stars from the… More >>
  • Best Basement for Shows

    Li Po

    Li Po is one of the few "anything goes" bars left in this NIMBY city. Want to end your Sundays swaying to rare soul with the Sweater Funk DJs? Craving fractured psych-pop one weekend and ear-bleeding noise the next? Scouting out tweaked techno, "Night Kitchen" style? It's all hiding in the Li Po dungeon. The dive bar's cachet comes with… More >>
  • Best New Gay Club Theme Night

    'Tiara Sensation' at the Stud

    The late, lamented "Trannyshack" drag club is credited with inventing what might be called "creative drag" or "art drag"; many of its acts involved independent music, genderbending unusual even for drag, and a new sense of inclusion. Instead of disappearing, though, the 'Shack seems to have replicated upon its demise, spawning many quality evenings — "Hot Boxx Girls" at Aunt… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    The Cinch

    Before the Castro became the throbbing heart of contemporary gaydom, the Friends of Dorothy tended to congregate in Polk Gulch — the stretch of Polk Street between Geary and Union that now retains only a few marks of its long-gone days as the city's queer hub. The Cinch is probably the gayest thing going in the neighborhood these days; the… More >>
  • Best Fusion Lounge

    AsiaSF

    San Francisco has no shortage of drag queens, but only AsiaSF, a popular upscale Asian fusion restaurant in SOMA, has its own fleet of "gender illusionists." Dressed to the nines in miniskirts and heels, these waitresses/performers don't just pass: They make genetically female diners jealous. Between courses of blackened tuna and orange lamb — set menus cost $38 to $58… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Ha-Ra Club

    The ingredients that go into a great dive bar are simple and inviolable: minimal clientele of the somber, scotch-sipping variety; no-nonsense barkeeps with nothing but time; shadowy, spilled-gin atmo to burn. The Ha-Ra meets the standards and then some. Walking into the joint is like feeling your way into a poorly lit cavern trimmed in Truman-era boxing photos and a… More >>
  • Best North Beach Bar

    Specs' Twelve Adler Museum Cafe

    Specs' is one of the few bars left where you can ask for a martini and get a cold glass of gin and a little vermouth without having to answer a bunch of damn fool questions. That alone would qualify this venerable North Beach hideaway for übersaloon status, but there's so much more to the place: the old-salt pro-union merchant… More >>
  • Best Hipster Mission Bar

    The Uptown

    So you're a new hipster in town. Or you've just decided that you want to have sex with a hipster. Where should you go? Try the Uptown, particularly on Wednesdays when beer is extracheap. You'll know you've arrived when you begin to feel vaguely uncomfortable and notice all the fixies chained up, their owners puffing cigarettes outside and snubbing homeless people. Head inside, though, and… More >>
  • Best New Hotel Bar

    Clock Bar in the St. Francis Hotel

    The hotel lobby bar is a subgenre of saloon unique unto itself: a rendezvous, usually in a bustling downtown location, where friends, lovers, and co-workers can meet over a relaxing cocktail in an elegant but convenient setting. The year-old Clock Bar at the St. Francis is the perfect mixture of all those things. For generations, people have been meeting under the clock in the St.… More >>
  • Best Bar to Bridge the Generation Gap

    3300 Club

    Despite San Francisco's cornucopia of bars, watering holes, and dives, few drinking establishments in the city can tout a balanced age demographic. Face facts: Most bars cater to a younger set. A few have a token old guy, sometimes welcome, sometimes not. But the 3300 Club in the Mission runs the gamut. You've got your twentysomethings; then there's the collection of drinkers who could be… More >>
  • Best Bus Stop with a Liquor License

    KoKo Cocktails - CLOSED

    Missed your bus? Sucks for you. But if you're lucky, you're currently cursing Muni at the intersection of Van Ness and Geary — in which case your bus stop conveniently abuts KoKo Cocktails. This small, cool Tenderloin drinkery sits a mere six feet from the Muni shelter, so nicotine enthusiasts frequently mingle with nocturnal commuters as the latter await the 38… More >>
  • Best Lifestyle Randomizer

    Argus Lounge - CLOSED

    Predictability is good when it comes to trains, planes, and paycheck schedules. But sometimes your social life gets in a rut — and that's when a bar like the Argus comes in handy. Unless your brain gets regular RSS event feeds, it's almost impossible to predict what will be happening at this Mission neighborhood hangout. Maybe it'll be packed with rocker dudes… More >>
  • Best Place for a 'Whis-Skee' Mixer

    Buckshot Restaurant, Bar, and Gameroom

    Sick of slick pseudopimps, overdressed suburban moneyslingers, and other wannabe players? The Buckshot appeals to a different breed of player — those for whom the "game" doesn't involve throwing Benjamins at makeup-slathered skanks, but throwing some rounds of Skee-Ball instead. If it were a racetrack gambler, this ultracasual (read: picnic tables and taxidermy as indoor decor) Inner Richmond bar would… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    McCormick & Kuleto's Seafood Restaurant

    The happy hour concept has been part of the San Francisco barhopping experience since the Silver Boom of the 1860s, when the saloons along Montgomery beckoned customers with groaning boards of oysters, hams, and other thirst-inducing snacks. The tradition continues at Ghirardelli Square's handsome Pat Kuleto–designed fish house, where the panoramic bay views are stupendous and the happy hour menu (available… More >>
  • Best Place to Make Your Own Wine

    Crushpad

    Whether you're a wine connoisseur or vineyard pretender, Crushpad is an urban DIY winery in Potrero Hill that welcomes all types. At Crushpad, you don't actually get to stomp grapes in barrels, but hobbyists and newbies can make their own bottles of wine at $19 a pop (or $5,000 for 300 bottles) and get some knowledge on blending their favorite varietals, identifying tastes as diverse… More >>
  • Best Liquor Selection

    Rosewood

    Make your way to Rosewood's speakeasylike entrance, settle into one of the retro-hip Thonet barstools, and behold 10 dozen bottles in all shapes and sizes, arranged in two backlit rows like so many glittering, multihued works of art. These cordials, aperitifs, digestifs, and (occasionally unidentifiable) elixirs in malt, grape, and grain include top-shelf gins, tequilas, bourbons, and cognacs alongside Moët-Hennessy's first-pressed… More >>
  • Best Belgian Beer Resource

    La Trappe

    Belgium produces the widest selection of unique, distinctive artisanal beers in the world — as many as 800 varieties — and a fine place to sample a remarkable percentage of them is La Trappe. Here, the questing suds-sipper can experience the breathtaking range of Belgian ingenuity and craftsmanship, from fruity ciderlike lambics and herb-scented wheat beers to the sweet and… More >>
  • Best Microbrew

    Salvation

    What we have here is a sippin' beer, best enjoyed with the cheese, walnuts, port, and cognac after a fine meal. The artisans at Russian River craft this chestnut-brown ale with their own strain of Belgian yeast and a preference for malted grain over bitter hops, resulting in a sweet, full-bodied, slightly fruity brew. The beer is then refermented in… More >>
  • Best Novelty Drink

    The Bro-seff at the Knockout

    Sparks, the candy-flavored alcoholic beverage that once fueled the nights of many a hipster, is not without its detractors. In fact, enough people have complained that the fizzy novelty drink appeals to children that consumer activists were able to get caffeine scratched from its ingredient list. But the sugary drink is still easy to swill, making it an ideal component of… More >>
  • Best Sugary Girl Drink

    Gummi Bear Martini

    Girly drinks have been known to sport names that are unfit to print in a family publication, but which all refer to sexual activity. Thankfully, Barracuda Sushi has concocted a sugary girl drink without the sexual innuendo: the Gummi Bear Martini. This insanely sweet mix of Seagram's Extra Smooth vodka, DeKuyper Strawberry Passion Pucker, and DeKuyper Peach Pucker Schnapps is served… More >>
  • Best Pisco Sour

    La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

    Last year, Peruvian celebrity chef Gastón Acurio opened the grand La Mar Cebicheria Peruana on the San Francisco waterfront at a time when cocktails really started trending toward the old-fashioned. And while the restaurant has garnered mixed reviews in the local food media, its traditional take on the Pisco Sour has snagged a lot of buzz. At La Mar, Pisco… More >>
  • Best No-Talent-Required Karaoke

    Karaoke Night at the Attic - CLOSED

    Promises of no-pressure karaoke nights are usually false, with even the divey-est, most out-of-the way places sporting their fair share of divas. Not so at the Attic's karaoke night, which happens the third Monday of every month. The complete lack of flair ensures that every flaw in every squeaky voice will be laid bare for the jovial, drunken audience members, who do not care how… More >>
  • Greenest Bar

    The Moss Room

    Okay, it isn't exactly a bar and there aren't actually any happy hour discounts, but sipping a Manhattan at sunset in the LEED platinum-certified California Academy of Sciences' Moss Room is lulling enough to rival well drinks at your favorite downtown dive. It opens half an hour after the museum closes, and sits pretty below the academy's "living roof," a lush canopy of plants accessible… More >>
  • Saddest Farewell

    Tonga Room

    In an era of crumbling institutions, rampant greed, and change for the hell of it, the all-but-certain demise of the Tonga Room may be the saddest slap at historical preservation to date. The grandest of the city's tiki bars blossomed just after World War II and in the decades since has delighted natives and visitors alike with its over-the-top decor, foliage-festooned umbrella drinks, and regularly… More >>
  • Best Bar Desserts

    Candybar

    The bar-snack concept attains sweet new heights at Candybar, a hip little Western Addition venue where desserts get top billing with the cocktails, suds, and vino. These aren't your basic Gummi Bear-and-biscotti meal-closers, either. Chef Kyle Caporicci's half-dozen daily offerings are unique and perfectly realized culinary creations that are scrumptious on their own or with a glass of port, vin santo, or champagne. Opt for the… More >>
  • Best New Oldies DJ

    Sergio Iglesias

    Sergio Iglesias is one busy DJ. It seems like just about every night of the week, he's playing crazy cool retro music somewhere in town. On second Sundays of the month at the Knockout, he cohosts "Lonely Teardrops," the only all-doo-wop night in S.F.; on third Tuesdays at the Casanova, he offers the Ronettes, the Crystals, and other "Girl Groups"; for fourth Mondays at the… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking Options

    Pier 23 Cafe|Bambuddha Lounge|B Restaurant & Bar|Bocce Cafe|Jay'n Bee Club

    Fog, wind, and rain aside, San Francisco's largely temperate year-round weather patterns inspire an abundance of out-of-doors strolling, sunning, supping, and sipping. Especially sipping. Here are a few of our favorite places for getting a tan and a buzz at the same time. Pier 23 Cafe Pier 23 (at Embarcadero), 362-5125, www.pier23cafe.com Pier 23 is one of the few places in this water-centric city where you can enjoy… More >>
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