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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top 10 Dive Bars in San Francisco

Posted By on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM

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These days, what qualifies as a dive bar in San Francisco is contestable. We realized, researching this list, that diviness seems to be in the eye of the drinker. For us, a dive is a bar that has been allowed to sit and marinate in its own sticky, alcoholic beverages for years on end, untroubled by trends, unbothered about attracting a specific kind of customer and, in some cases, unconcerned with cleaning a whole heck of a lot.

Here are our 10 favorites in the city.

10. The Li Po Lounge
Home to the most gigantic Chinese lantern we've ever seen, plus more dust than we care to think about, the Lipo Lounge is the only dive in Chinatown truly worth bothering with. Whether you're in the front bar pretending to be in Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, in the stark seating area in back absorbing the bizarre, brightly-lit-canteen vibe, or in the low-ceilinged basement listening to dance DJs, there's literally nowhere else like this in the city.

9. The Nite Cap

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If you want to get into some weird conversations, hang out in here for a couple of hours on any given evening. This spot has some of the chattiest patrons, friendliest bartenders and -- hey, we're just gonna say it -- most lovable kooks you can find in the whole city. Getting in and out of the bathroom is a logistical nightmare at times, but with the pool table, comfy armchair and overall intimate vibe, there are fun times aplenty to be had in here.

8. The Attic Club

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It's quite possible to spend years walking past this hole in the wall on 24th Street and never even notice it. It's dark, absurdly cramped when there are more than 15 people inside, and the bathroom situation is limited. But The Attic remains largely untarnished by pretentious hipsters (unlike some other places we could mention farther down 24th), which is miraculous given its position between Mission and Valencia. Claustrophobes would do well to steer clear on the weekends, but weeknights are delightfully low key.

7. The Riptide

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Probably the greatest hidden gem in all of San Francisco, the only people that know about this great bar are (a) people who live in Ocean Beach and (b) people who drink and drive. This place ain't convenient for most of us, but its log-fire smell, wood-paneled walls, red brick floor, foxy tattooed bartenders, amazing nautical décor -- and, gosh, every bar should have one -- gigantic moose head, make this the coziest place to go on dark and stormy nights by the beach. Well worth the journey.

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Rae Alexandra


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