Best Place to Experience the Old Divisadero - 2013
Listen up, whippersnappers, and let us tell you of the Old Days of Divisadero, before Bi-Rite, before third-wave coffee and locally sourced artisan cocktails, before baby-friendly boutiques and big, broad bike lanes. Divisadero Street was a working-class four-lane ribbon drawing a colorful line through the middle of San Francisco. And one of the best bars on it was Club Waziema, a former jazz venue that became an Ethiopian restaurant and low-key watering hole — not quite a dive, but not a place that ever seemed too big for its britches, either. Waziema still stands today, and contrasts sharply with the upwardly mobile flavors increasingly dominating the neighborhood. Its understated ambiance — paisley red wallpaper, dim lighting, exposed wood — will remind you of days when bars could just have regular paint and wallpaper instead of "décor," when there was a larger middle ground between "upscale" and "shithole." The place also has a vibrant history, having hosted the likes of Billie Holiday and Marvin Gaye in a former incarnation. Its current owners keep photos from those old days on the back walls. But aside from maybe the Popeyes down the street, Club Waziema is now Divisadero's best reminder of what the area was like a few years ago — a past that may be quite recent, but is still very much gone.