12 Galaxies: One of the few places left in the Mission District to catch live music. Still in its adolescent stages, it's the perfect two-floor outfit to see rock or punk shows. It also showcases innovative cabaret, burlesque, fashion, art, and DJ nights. 2565 Mission (at 22nd St.), 970-9777.
13 Views: If you couldn’t have guessed by the name, this upper-floor hotel bar offers great views of both the street below and the downtown skyline. Though the clientele tends mostly toward out-of-town travelers, 13 Views is also a popular weekend destination for locals with a taste for piano- and guitar-led jazz combos. 5 Embarcadero Center, Market & Drumm, 788-1234.
26 Mix: For when you want to lounge and for when you want to dance, 26 Mix has the best of both worlds. Its bar/lounge area thrives as a colorful spot to chill, while the dance floor and back room help release any pent-up energy. 3024 Mission (at 26th St.), 826-7378.
111 Minna Gallery: An art gallery/nightclub/bar, this place shows films, hosts DJs, gets people drunk — all in a sleek (read: Make sure you dress up) atmosphere where pretty people come to play. 111 Minna (at Second St.), 974-1719.
330 Ritch: The former apex of the early '90s acid-jazz scene is now home to the long-running indie-pop weekly “popscene” as well as salsa and hip hop nights. Delicious food, dancing, and pool make this dark alley hideaway a hip hangout for the city's young and fabulous. 330 Ritch (at Townsend), 541-9574.
715 Harrison: This place seems like the last of its line — an aging dinosaur left over from the early boom of club life, with enormous crowds, cavernous dance areas, and an unceasing thump. Weekend parties represent mainstream clubgoing tastes, with DJs spinning techno, high energy, and house. 715 Harrison (at Third St.), 339-8686.
848 Community Space: True to its name, this cooperative spot features art shows, group meetings, theater performances, and live music and is also a live-work space with two bedrooms and a kitchen. 848 Divisadero (at McAllister), 922-2385.
1751 Social Club: The former Storyville is new and improved, but it's still home to many popular hip hop and '80s-music weeklies. Chilling in the front, boogieing in the back. 1751 Fulton (at Masonic), 441-1751.
Abbey Tavern: This Irish sports bar in the Inner Richmond features live DJs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. A mixture of pop, rock, '80s, and dance music caters to a mostly collegiate crowd. 4100 Geary (at Fifth Ave.), 221-7767.
Amber: Its inviting character and unaffected air attract local restaurant/bar workers for unofficial '80s, honky-tonk, and punk rock nights. Enjoy a Sidecar or an Amber Cocktail in the lounge-y barroom. 714 14th St. (at Church), 626-7827.
Amnesia: Red, hypnotic light helps this tiny bar live up to its name, and its tall stage features everything from bluegrass to experimental electronica. Though the music quality varies, the price is always right. 853 Valencia (at 20th St.), 970-0012.
Amoeba Music: Come hear a band you should probably know about amidst thousands of CDs you should probably own at Amoeba's regular in-store concerts. A head-scratching variety of genres offers an awesome cross-section of today's music. Sound quality may suffer, but hey, such is indie rock. 1855 Haight (at Stanyan), 831-1200.
Annie's Cocktail Lounge: Neighborhood locals converge on the comfortable, inviting Annie's for the punk rock/rockabilly music and an upstairs pool table. Come for the martinis, stay for the karaoke — every Tuesday and Saturday. 15 Boardman (at Bryant), 703-0865.
Anú: Low lighting, lounge seating, and the freshest electronica DJs rank Anû as a bona fide hot spot, despite its somewhat seedy location. Arrive early on Fridays for a massage and a tarot card reading. Just be sure to try the bartenders' favorite cocktail, the Pink Bird. 43 Sixth St. (at Mission), 543-3505.
Arrow: The best place in the occupied nightlife territory of Sixth and Mission streets, period. It's part bar and part cave dance floor (complete with stalactites), packaged with various guest DJs. A young, modish crowd usually dominates; the party doesn't get going until at least 1 a.m. 10 Sixth St. (at Market), 255-7920.
AsiaSF: Although DJs at AsiaSF draw from a booming mix of R&B, house, salsa, and pop while the chefs serve up tasty treats, it's the “gender illusionists” — the cross-dressing waitstaff — who rank this inclusive, friendly restaurant as a swanky gay and lesbian hangout. 201 Ninth St. (at Howard), 255-2742.
Atlas Cafe: On Thursday nights live music takes over this neighborhood coffee and herbivore-friendly sandwich shop, filling the place (and the inviting patio area) with a rotating array of the sounds of Americana, from blues to ragtime. 3049 20th St. (at Florida), 648-1047.
The Attic: The grittiness of your favorite dive bar and the sounds of your favorite DJ combine to create a great Mission District spot that transcends all trends. 3336 24th St. (at Mission), 643-3376.
Aunt Charlie's Lounge: Boys, girls — what's the difference, really? Boys become girls as part of Aunt Charlie's “Hot Boxx Girls” show every Friday and Saturday night, a lip-syncing experience a few miles to the left. 133 Turk (at Taylor), 441-2922.
Avalon Ballroom: Hardly the cultural landmark it was in the '60s, the renovated ballroom now attracts a wider range of bands, from reggae to metal. But the 500-person, carefree venue still draws the hippies as it slowly becomes a mainstay on the jam band circuit. 1268 Sutter (at Van Ness), 847-4043.
Azul: Whether the music is Latin jazz or beat-bottom DJs, weekends transform Azul from weekday laid-back lounge to swank hot spot. 1 Tillman (at Sutter), 362-9750.
Badlands: The Castro's finest and best-dressed boys pour into Badlands as much for the dancing (straight-up pop in the evening) as for the scenery. Not-too-low lighting allows for intimacy without ignorance. 4121 18th St. (at Castro), 626-9320. [page]
Balazo/Mission Badlands: Several nights a month, this art gallery (featuring everything from Latino artists to cartoonists) offers equally varied rock bands — blues to punk — in its cozy theater. 2811 Mission (at 24th St.), 550-1108.
Bamboo Hut: Full-on tropical décor and a full-on complement of tropical drinks make the Bamboo Hut a top-notch tiki bar. The Mai Tais flow on karaoke Wednesdays, but you'll have to pay $5 on Fridays and Saturdays to swing to the eclectic DJs. 479 Broadway (at Kearny), 989-8555.
Bambuddha Lounge: S.F. swank meets the Far East at Bambuddha, where well-dressed thirtysomethings sit at knee-high tables and groovy house beats dazzle Buddha figurines. Pay $5 on weekends, but come before 11 for fine dining and mingling out back by the pool — and to beat the cover. 601 Eddy (at Polk), 885-5088.
The Bar on Castro: Ever since the Bar got a much-needed facelift, it's been wildly popular. Pretty gay boys and girls rule the dance floor, while unbelievably attractive bartenders tame the large crowds with well-prepared if pricey drinks. It's arguably the best place in the Castro to grab a cocktail; boogie to electronica, Top 40, and hip hop; and maybe find that special someone to take home. 456 Castro (at 18th St.), 626-7220.
Bazaar Cafe: Nightly entertainment ranges from acoustic music (Wednesday through Sunday) to a comedy showcase (Tuesday) to either a wine tasting or an artist showing (Monday). No cover, tasty food, a beer and wine bar, and a hearty appreciation for the arts make Bazaar a cafe for those with taste. 5927 California (at 21st Ave.), 831-5620.
Beach Chalet Brewery: At night live surf, blues, and jazz bands valiantly compete for attention with the Chalet's menu (full dinner served until 10 p.m.), handcrafted brews, and striking coastal view. 1000 Great Highway (at Fulton), 386-VIEW.
The Beat Lounge: Jazz cats of all types — traditional players, vocalists, funksters, DJs, and even hip-hoppers — converge nightly at this lax lounge, making it the city's slickest lesser-known jazz hole. 501 Broadway (at Kearny), 982-5299.
Beauty Bar: With its immaculate vintage décor and menu of pricey highballs, this oasis for the elite features a roster of top-shelf weekly DJs spinning everything from thumping house to groove-heavy soul. 2299 Mission (at 19th St.), 285-0323.
Bimbo's 365 Club: A spacious yet intimate venue for live music of all genres. Great sound, classy lighting, and staffers dressed like The Love Boat's Capt. Stubing come together to make this one of the city's finer concert halls. 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), 474-0365.
Bird & Beckett: With a quaint performance space and lots of good reading lining the wall, Bird & Beckett augments its calendar of literary happenings with folk singers, jazz combos, and acoustic music of a wide variety. Sunny outdoor seating and a relaxed atmosphere make it a cozy end point for a Sunday drive. 2788 Diamond (at Chenery), 586-3733.
Biscuits & Blues: This nationally renowned club in the heart of the theater district offers top-drawer electric blues for the business set seven nights a week. Its posh digs don't reference the seedy jook joints of the genre's history, but the food and drinks are reasonably priced and there isn't a bad seat in the house. 401 Mason (at Geary), 292-BLUE.
Bistro E Europe: A hotbed of Eastern European deep listening, this quaint, moderately priced bistro hosts live Gypsy-, Hungarian-, and Balkan-flavored performances every weekend. 4901 Mission (between Ocean and Geneva), 469-5637.
Blackthorn Tavern: If your idea of the rainbow's end is tipping back 20 ounces of Guinness and pining for the Irish shores, the Blackthorn Tavern is a dream come true. Its wide selection of treats on tap and an occasional live Celtic folk band make it an emerald gem in the heart of the Sunset. 834 Irving (at Ninth Ave.), 564-6627.
Blind Tiger: It's easy to miss the plain facade of this Chinatown DJ lounge, so just listen for the bumping house music and enter into a stylishly decorated two-story bar where the elite meet to greet and sip fruity drink treats. 787 Broadway (at Powell), 788-4020.
Bliss Bar: Though ripe with possibilities, the clean and cool Bliss Bar seems stuck in a bygone (see: dot-com) era. A bit on the pricey side, it saves itself as one of the only places in Noe Valley featuring live DJs. 4026 24th St. (at Noe), 826-6200.
Blondie's: With tasteful DJ residencies, sidewalk people-watching, enormous martinis, and the occasional live jazz combo, this Mission District hot spot is a must for people making the scene. 540 Valencia (at 17th St.), 864-2419.
Boom Boom Room: Couches and cocktails complement a blues and funk boogie, which makes shaking it on the checkerboard dance floor an old-fashioned must. Nightly, up-and-coming national acts play sweaty, steamy sets on the venue's small stage — always a rollicking time. 1601 Fillmore (at Geary), 673-8000.
Bottom of the Hill: A down-and-dirty rock club complete with a pinball machine, sticker-smothered bathrooms, and a smoker's patio. Nightly entertainment ranges from loud-as-hell to what-the-hell-was-that. 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), 621-4455.
Brain Wash: Torn between catching a gig and staying home to do laundry? Pack up the grundies and hit Brain Wash, an enterprising cafe/laundromat/gallery/club. All-ages crowds can catch free shows across the DIY spectrum, chomp on snacks, and wash their whites — simultaneously. 1122 Folsom (at Seventh St.), 861-3663.
Broadway Studios: When the curtain rises at this historic North Beach venue, you never know what you'll get — it could be anything from bristling punk to brassy swing. Though the club's reputation comes mostly from Lindy-Hopping holdovers of the swing boom who populate the regular dance classes, there is a little of everything. 435 Broadway (at Columbus), 291-0333. [page]
Bruno's: After feasting on classic Italian fare, Bruno's patrons stay for the cozy after-dinner atmosphere, which features two red-lit lounges, live jazz, and a stream of premium cocktails. 2389 Mission (at 20th St.), 648-7701.
Bubble Lounge: San Francisco's premier champagne house complements its exhaustive menu of bubbly with live music every Wednesday. Though most of the acts tend toward wallpaper jazz, patrons can get giggly to the occasional offering of DJ'd electronica and live Latin grooves. 714 Montgomery (at Jackson), 434-4204.
Butter: Its cheeky trailer park décor has made it a favorite of club-crawling ironists. There's no heehaw on the tables, though, and the see-and-be-seen crowd poses to selections of deep house and techno from some of the area's A-list DJs. After dancing up an appetite, patrons hit the double-wide food stand for inexpensive “trailer treats.” 354 11th St. (at Folsom), 863-5964.
Butterfly Embarcadero: This waterfront bistro complements its Pan-Asian fare with lightly swinging combos during the week (Sunday through Wednesday) and presents an eclectic mix of DJs spinning jazz, R&B, and reggae through the weekend. Best to leave the dancing shoes at home, though; the music is more for dining ambience than dance-floor action. Pier 33, Embarcadero & Bay, 864-8999.
The Cafe: “Always a crowd, never a cover” is its accurate motto, to which the bridge-and-tunnel crowd can attest. This gay dance spot — popular for years — stands as an out-of-towner mecca, but Sunday nights are reserved for locals only. The DJs, sadly, are lackluster at best. 2367 Market (at 17th St.), 861-3846.
Cafe Claude: Grab a glass of Beaujolais and prepare to enjoy live jazz (on the weekends) and escape into a lively slice of cosmopolitan Parisian life (every day, if only temporary) at this charming, tucked-away bistro. 7 Claude (at Bush), 392-3515.
Cafe Cocomo: Take in salsa dancing lessons, live music that explores a spectrum of Latin American rhythms, and a colorful buffet at the Coconut Groove restaurant (Thursday through Saturday), all within a lively indoor/outdoor setting. Classy attire required. 650 Indiana (at Mariposa), 824-6910.
Café Du Nord: With the look and feel of a martini lounge, this modestly priced venue with a just-raised stage features mainly underground music, from weekly DJ nights to local and touring bands. 2170 Market (at Sanchez), 861-5016.
Cafe Franco: Kind of strange to think that a nonalcoholic cafe in a Fort Mason hostel would be a draw for locals. Yet pile in they do, to enjoy evenings of acoustic music and gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge, particularly on the open mike night held on the second Wednesday of the month. Fort Mason, Bldg. 240, Bay & Franklin, 771-3738.
Cafe Mars: Admire — or laugh, depending on your proclivities — as patrons attempt to match the outlandishness of the galaxial theme (and general pretty-people vibe) to their SOMA club attire. The music is usually not quite so techno as the décor, with plenty of funk and modern jazz. 798 Brannan (at Seventh St.), 621-6277.
California Club: Despite its name, the semiprivate California Club is best known as a host venue for events from a variety of international cultural groups from places such as Iceland and Poland, making it a space where almost any type of music, from classical to folk, might be played and enjoyed. 1750 Clay (at Van Ness), 474-3516.
The Canvas: What started out as a combination of a bright performance space/gallery and a tasty cafe has expanded to become a music destination. Nimble downtempo and drum 'n' bass DJs are now as likely as comedy and open mike musings — all still rare birds in the Sunset. 1200 Ninth Ave. (at Lincoln), 504-0060.
Casanova Lounge: Locals pack the worn velvet couches of this charming, dimly lit Mission District dive for pocket-change happy hour specials, the occasional rock set, and a stocked jukebox. 527 Valencia (at 16th St.), 863-9328.
Cat Club: Two rooms — one with a stage, the other with a DJ coop — and two bars double your pleasure in this dainty, well-lit hipster hangout. Music varies nightly. 1190 Folsom (at Eighth St.), 431-3332.
Charlie’s Club: The slow transformation of Charlie’s from workaday neighborhood living to lavish (if tiny) NYC-style cocktail lounge is displayed in its jukebox (which boasts some choice underground deep cuts) and its recent addition of weekend house DJs (still pending licensing approval). 309 Cortland (at Bocana), 401-0860.
The Chieftain: As the after-work happy-hour crowd gives way to SOMA pub crawlers, a variety of local acoustic acts entertain at this Irish brewpub. The live music ranges from maudlin ballads about the Emerald Isle to local singer/songwriters and unobtrusive folk rockers, but is mostly background music for draining a few pints. 198 Fifth St. (at Howard), 615-0916.
Cherry Bar & Lounge: In addition to hosting some of SOMA's most original dance club nights — such as “Bootie,” one of the first bootleg mash-up nights — Cherry has also returned to playing live music. Local, reputable bands grace the stage at this charming venue. 917 Folsom (at Fifth St.), 974-1585.
Cityscape: It's worth saving pennies for this upscale bistro atop the Hilton San Francisco: The spectacular panorama from 460 feet above the ground is well worth the pricey fare. DJs spin light Top 40 nightly, but don't expect a bustling dance floor; most people are here for the views. Hilton Hotel, 333 O'Farrell (at Mason), 923-5002.
Cloud 9 Motel: This snazzy retro bar pretties up the otherwise dismal block at Seventh and Market streets. Sip cocktails and enjoy the house-music DJ in the glitzy upstairs bar or head to the basement for some dark and dirty dancing. 34 Seventh St. (at Market), 355-9991.
Club Jazz Nouveau: With nonstop jazz pumping from the stage and setting the mood, this club has spearheaded the genre's revival in San Francisco. The house sizzles nightly for a modest cover. 2801 Leavenworth (at Beach), 921-2100. [page]
Club Malibu: Have your Berlitz phrase book handy at this Mission District hot spot, as neither staff nor patrons speak much English. The place is packed almost every night for DJs who spin south-of-the-border club bangers. When Norteña bands play long sets on the weekends, it's like a can of sardines (or should we say “como sardinas en banasta“?). 3369 Mission (between 29th and 30th Sts.), 821-7395.
Club NV: Its upscale digs are home to a wild Friday night scene. People move through two large dance areas to a mix of Latin house, high-energy romps, and club anthems. If you have the extra cash and a penchant for privacy, NV also offers plenty of VIP hideouts. 525 Howard (at First St.), 339-8686.
Club Rendez-Vous: This destination is a favorite of thirtysomething gay men with a taste for house music and a good pickup scene. The regular drag pageants and male reviews are exceedingly popular, rendering the long, narrow space quite cozy. 1312 Polk (at Bush), 309-CLUB.
Club Six: A fancy-schmancy martini mecca aboveground, Club Six has a cavernous basement with an ample dance floor where some of the world's top DJs come to spin techno and hip hop (among other styles), often into the wee hours of the night. 60 Sixth St. (at Jessie), 863-1221.
Community Music Center: In addition to hosting all kinds of private music instruction, the center's 130-seat auditorium is a regular home to low-price (sometimes free) concerts and recitals. Performances from students, faculty, and visiting artists are a safe bet for quality and run the gamut from Copland to Coltrane. 544 Capp (at 20th St.), 647-6015.
Condor Ultra Lounge: What was once the first topless joint in the United States has revamped itself as one of North Beach's latest dance clubs. In addition to spinning party hits from the '70, '80s, '90s, and beyond, the Condor Ultra Lounge holds onto its risqué roots with burlesque shows on Fridays and Saturdays and an all-male revue for the ladies on Thursdays. 300 Columbus (at Grant), 781-8222.
Cosmopolitan Cafe: Proud of its bid to be known as one of the city's best places to have a power lunch, it's an equally buzzing place for an after-work drink — particularly its namesake — or bite and to enjoy and to enjoy live jazz Wednesday through Saturday. Ties are loosened, but only so much. 121 Spear (at Mission), 543-4001.
Dalva: One long hallway of a bar, the low-lit Dalva boasts great sangria and nightly DJs spinning various kinds of hip, cool music. If the tunes get too loud for conversation (which they often do), head to the not-so-secret back room. 3121 16th St. (at Valencia), 252-7740.
Delirium Cocktails: A change of name and management has turned this grubby Mission District haunt into a slightly less grubby Mission District haunt, with nightly DJs playing good ol' rock 'n' roll. Locals flock here for free hot dogs and pool on Sundays. 3139 16th St. (at Albion), 552-5525.
Deluxe: The art deco style of this Haight Street bar brings out the swing-music scenesters and Frank Sinatra devotees. Enjoy live jazz and retro tunes as you sip your award-winning martini. 1509 Haight (at Ashbury), 552-6949.
Detour: Smack in the heart of the Castro, this small, dimly lit hangout pumps thumping electronica from its speakers and covers its walls with suggestive pictures. A gay bar with attitude. 2348 Market (at Noe), 861-6053.
DNA Lounge: The newly remodeled DNA is a longtime fixture on this happening 11th Street block. Regular goth and industrial parties happen alongside the occasional house or hip hop jam. 375 11th St. (at Folsom), 626-1409.
Don Ramon's: Huge portions of Mexican fare, plenty of comfy seating, and frequent appearances by strolling mariachi players are the key ingredients of this SOMA dining hall. 225 11th St. (at Howard), 864-2700.
Dot Restaurant: Those familiar with Nick “Joe Boxer” Graham's through-the-looking-glass venues (the Red Room, Backflip, Sno-drift) know to expect a Dr. Seussian flair. The club's infrequent live music offerings follow the eclectic decorum with DJ sets that run the gamut of electronic, lounge, and vintage rock sounds. Miyako Hotel, 1611 Post (at Laguna), 922-3200.
Dylan's Pub: This Welsh bar features an excellent selection of beer and a low-key, cozy atmosphere that draws a mostly local crowd. Free jazz every Sunday, and the Vespa Club of San Francisco meets every Thursday night. 2301 Folsom (at 19th St.), 641-1416.
E&O Trading Co.: This notable Southeast Asian restaurant brings in local pianist Cecil Wells for the weekend dinner hours. Wells and guests provide quality ivory-tinkling, including renditions of jazz, blues, and pop favorites, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting at 6 p.m. 314 Sutter (at Grant), 693-0303.
Eagle Tavern: SOMA's leather/daddy/alterna/beer bust spot for years, its Thursday night music series has proved popular as of late. An outdoor stage — sadly, so rare in San Francisco — and comfy patio act as yin to its sordid and cruisy yang. 398 12th St. (at Harrison), 626-0880.
Eastside West: This popular Marina Triangle restaurant is known for its oyster bar, but night transforms the seafood spot into a cool bar with hip hop DJs and live jazz. 3154 Fillmore (at Greenwich), 885-4000.
Edinburgh Castle: A bright, noisy, meat-and-potatoes beer bar on the first floor leads to a shower-size music room on the second, showcasing a variety of local bands, mostly of the indie pop stripe. 950 Geary (at Larkin), 885-4074.
Elbo Room: The Elbo Room ain't the rock Valhalla it once was, but a bar and pool tables downstairs and a low-priced music venue upstairs provide entertainment that varies between DJ nights and local bands ranging from hip hop to punk to bluegrass to samba. 647 Valencia (at 18th St.), 552-7788. [page]
El Rio: With moderately priced (and heavily poured) drinks, a sprawling patio, and an intimate stage in a side room, this Mission District destination is a keystone of indie-hipster nightlife. 3158 Mission (at Cesar Chavez), 282-3325.
Empire Plush Room: What began as an illegal Prohibition-era speak-easy is still host to cabaret singers. York Hotel, 940 Sutter (at Hyde), 885-2800.
Endup: A nightclub that (fortunately) stays up well past its bedtime, the Endup has a hard-earned reputation as an after-hours mecca that still holds up. “Fag Fridays” and Sunday morning T-dances are as popular as ever. Sixth St. & Harrison, 357-0827.
Enrico's: This North Beach sidewalk cafe with lovely high ceilings and windows plays host to a discerning selection of live jazz musicians. 504 Broadway (at Kearny), 982-6223.
Esta Noche: A hub for the gay Latino community for more than two decades, Esta Noche offers its club patrons a refined DJ mix of Latin and house music and outrageous, gender-bending special events. 3079 16th St. (at Valencia), 861-5757.
EZ5: Nightly DJs spinning house, hip hop, and whatever's in between turn this mellow lounge into a rump-shakin' all-night party. 682 Commercial (at Kearny), 362-9321.
The Factory: If you're looking to get lost, the Factory's 1,500-person capacity (the biggest party space in town) does the trick. Throngs of see-and-be-seen clubbers populate its Saturday night happenings, which feature guest DJs spinning everything from high-energy club anthems to deep house grooves. 525 Harrison (at Essex), 339-8686.
Fiddler's Green: This bilevel Irish watering hole is a cute pit stop on the stroll between Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach. The kitchen occasionally offers traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage, and the bar serves a friendly pint. In the evening, DJs spin upstairs while live bands croon down below. 1333 Columbus (at Beach), 441-9758.
Fluid: Computer-controlled lighting creates a wavy atmosphere for weekend (and sometimes weekday) DJs to drop funky house, slippery hip hop, and all else cool at this glitzy, twentysomething hub. 662 Mission (at Annie), 615-6888.
Fuse: A breath of fresh air among the pricey, crowded bars of Broadway, Fuse is a low-key joint with a good vibe and excellent taste in soul and hip hop DJs (during the week) and trance and techno (on the weekends). 493 Broadway (at Kearny), 788-2706.
Ganesh: This affordable, tasty Indian dive brings in DJs who spin drum ’n’ bass, reggae, and Caribbean club classics every night of the week. Paneer tikka masala and irie riddims might seem like a peculiar combination, but the curious mishmash is well worth the stop. Though it’s filled mostly with a low-key set of locals, the place gets packed during special events. 270016th St. (at Harrison), 437-9240.
Glas Kat: During the week the Glas Kat complements its tapas fare with live salsa music and dance lessons (Tuesday), co-ed lounge singers (Wednesday), and smooth jazz and R&B (Thursday). On the weekend DJs take over, offering Friday night trance and house parties and Saturday soundtracks of disco and trance grooves. 520 Fourth St. (at Bryant), 957-9318.
Grant & Green: This dive in the heart of North Beach is a sure bet for loud rock, cheap drinks, and a crowd of local characters. A sidewalk barker pulls in tourists for blues-rock sets on the weekends, but during the week the place is reclaimed by long-haired locals who like their music a little rougher. 1371 Grant (at Green), 693-9565.
Harry Denton's Rouge: The high-energy weekend parties cater to the upper crust of party people, who are probably more interested in being seen than deep listening. But the DJs on the decks bring a wide selection of dance-floor faves — from Top 40 and funky house to urban grooves and new soul. 1500 Broadway (at Polk), 346-7683.
Harry Denton's Starlight Room: The gorgeous view of the city atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is almost worth the dress code and $10 drinks; the Starlight Orchestra plays Motown classics Thursday through Saturday, and a DJ spins on weeknights. A favorite among tourists and S.F.'s old-money crowd. Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 450 Powell (at Bush), 395-8595.
Harry's on Fillmore: Harry Denton's posh Fillmore Street bar features occasional live DJs. The elegantly decorated bar draws a large crowd of young professionals. 2020 Fillmore (at California), 921-1000.
Hemlock Tavern: A crowded, clamorous bar up front hides an elegant, sardine-can of a music room in back. By showcasing some of the world's best underground rock bands, this microvenue has quickly become one of the city's best. 1131 Polk (at Post), 923-0923.
HiFi Lounge: This unassuming nightspot on traffic-filled Lombard Street is home to some down-and-dirty house and hip hop dance parties. Prepare to fight your way to the bar on Friday or Saturday night. 2125 Lombard (at Fillmore), 345-8663.
Hole in the Wall: This wildly friendly gay bar boasts a carefree house band that grooves and rocks, as well as DJs who spin just about everything, from classic rock to today's pop. 289 Eighth St. (at Folsom), 431-HOWL.
Holy Cow: It's always a party at the famous Holy Cow. Watch frat boys and bachelorette-party girls freak nasty on the dance floor as you sip half-price cocktails and groove to '80s music and R&B. 1531 Folsom (at 11th St.), 621-6087.
Hotel Utah: The Old West and old-time roots music come together again at the Hotel Utah Saloon, where a small stage, a dive bar, and a diversely stocked jukebox set the scene. 500 Fourth St. (at Bryant), 546-6300.
House of Shields: Though most of the melodies heard here are of the modern jazz variety, this Financial District steakhouse changes it up fairly often, eschewing the cocktail-lounge ambience for late nights with house DJs and even the occasional rock band. 39 New Montgomery (at Market), 975-8651. [page]
Houston's: Its musical programming could be the most reliable in the city, since it tends toward long residencies by some of the finest local piano crooners playing such fare as pop standards from the '30s and '40s every night except Friday and Saturday. 1800 Montgomery (at Embarcadero), 392-9280.
Hush Hush: Somewhat trendy and typically packed on weekends, this bar is dark yet inviting, owing to the quality weekly and monthly DJ parties it hosts (and its selection of 21 different vodkas). 496 14th St. (at Guerrero), 241-9944.
Il Pirata: With its black leather booths and no-frills atmosphere, this delightfully dingy watering hole offers a roster of DJs spinning Latin and salsa music, plus affordable drinks aplenty. 2007 16th St. (at Utah), 626-2626.
The Independent: The legendary live-music box on Divis has received a much-needed update, including covering the concrete floor (painful knees!) with a wood dance floor and carpeting, installing a powerful sound system, and instituting an open booking policy: Expect rock, folk, hip hop, and the occasional DJ night. 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), 771-1421.
Ireland's 32: In addition to a fine beer selection, darts, pool, European sports on TV, and pub grub, this Inner Richmond home-away-from-home for many Irish expats offers live music seven nights a week, covering everything from punk to traditional Irish music to an open mike night. 3920 Geary (at Third Ave.), 386-6173.
Jazz at Pearl's: Despite new owners (or perhaps because of them), Jazz at Pearl's still ranks as the top spot for live jazz in the city. Monday through Saturday, touring players swing by to scorch this landmark joint. 256 Columbus (at Broadway), 291-8255.
Jelly's: “Club Judah” — an ongoing Friday night dance party dedicated to reggae, dub, and new-school tropical house — is this SOMA destination's most happening party. During the week things are less crowded and more laid-back as DJs spin hip hop, house, and urban classics. 295 China Basin (at Mission Rock), 495-3099.
Jester's Lounge: Just off the lobby of the Argent Hotel, this cozy oasis of martinis and modern jazz is a destination for travelers and after-work locals alike. On Friday nights the club hosts guitar guru Carl Lockett (a former bandmate of Chuck Mangione); on Thursdays and Saturdays, it's the ivory-tickling of Brent Weinbach. Argent Hotel, 50 Third St. (at Market), 974-8800.
Jillian's: This after-work hangout — part of a national chain of club/restaurants with a billiards theme — becomes a dance spot on the weekends. 101 Fourth St. (at Mission), 369-6100.
John’s Grill: This landmark restaurant claims to be “home of the Maltese Falcon” and features local jazz guitarists nightly. Be sure to check the schedule for Carl Locke (usually on Thursday nights), who treats listeners to familiar swinging standards with leisurely savoir-faire. Like Sam Spade says, it’s “the stuff that dreams are made of.” 63 Ellis (at Powell), 986-0069.
Johnny Foley's Irish House/Cellar: Music lovers cherish the intimate cellar underneath Johnny Foley's Irish Pub, where songsmiths like Ron Sexsmith, Josh Rouse, and Lisa Loeb have all performed. A venue so intimate that musicians must use the audience bathroom. 243 O'Farrell (at Cyril Magnin), 954-0777.
Kate O'Brien's: This downtown watering hole — which feels like a friendly neighborhood Irish pub, with its shiny copper bar — is home to various DJs Thursday through Saturday. 579 Howard (at Second St.), 882-7240.
Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar: Have an old-fashioned Irish sing-along to live music (on weekends) at this classy, comfortable pub lined in brick and presenting gorgeous views of the bay. 530 Jackson (at Columbus), 955-1916.
Kelly's Mission Rock: This sprawling China Basin indoor/outdoor club sits right on the water and is host to some hot one-off events, which draw both local and international DJ talent playing everything from hip hop to house. 817 China Basin (off Third St.), 626-5355.
Kimo's: An atmosphere like a fisherman's garage (TV, surfboard, nets), it's the opposite of ritzy yet very fun. Upstairs on most nights you'll find some of the city's loudest punk, rock, and noise bands. 1351 Polk (at Pine), 885-4535.
La Scene: Premium cocktails, candlelit coziness, and piano jazz (Thursday through Saturday) make this upscale restaurant/bar on the ground floor of the Warwick Regis Hotel a popular stop for theatergoers, hotel guests, and Union Square loungers. Don’t expect too much by way of flashy entertainment: The piano players specialize in wallpaper music. 490 Geary (at Mason), 928-7900.
La Terraza: Though the club might be a little rough around the edges, the music at this Outer Mission hole-in-the-wall restaurant is top-notch. Latin club DJs and Norteña bands provide danceable selections all week long for the mostly local crowd. The beers are affordable, the vibe is usually friendly (don't cross the 7-foot-tall bouncer, though), and the covers are cheap. 3472 Mission (at Cortland), 285-1236.
Last Day Saloon: Early birds enjoy pool, foosball, and pinball at the street-level bar, but live-music lovers head upstairs for nightly shows — mostly jam bands, but hip hop, jazz, and funk acts stop by regularly. 406 Clement (at Sixth Ave.), 387-6343.
Laszlo: Foreign Cinema's little cousin features DJs in a posh setting. Although it stands out like a sore raised pinkie in its coarse Mission Street surroundings, it's a nice change of pace in an area laced with dive bars. Lively locals spin dance music and party jams (though there's no dance floor), and an air of class makes it worthwhile as more than a convenient post-meal move. 2526 Mission (at 21st St.), 401-0810.
Le Colonial: Recalling Vietnam during the time of French colonization, the upscale Le Colonial restaurant features a gorgeous, palm tree-lined interior. It's slowly but steadily attracting special events such as Brown Hornet's monthly house music night “JetSet” (first Saturday of the month). 20 Cosmo (off Post), 931-3600.
Les Joulins Jazz Bistro: Steak 'n' jazz are the highlights at this Union Square bistro, with nightly live performances by strong local talent exploring the spectrum of the genre, from straight-ahead sounds to bebop. 44 Ellis (at Powell), 397-4436. [page]
Levende Lounge: Like Butterfly Embarcadero, its slightly swankier sister restaurant at Pier 33, this Mission District oasis offers live jazz and DJ sets. Small jazz ensembles play Monday through Wednesday nights, and an assortment of downtempo, lite house, dub, and reggae is on the decks during the weekend. 1710 Mission (at Duboce), 864-5585.
Li Po Lounge: Granted, the competition is slim, but Li Po is the hippest rock venue in Chinatown. The dank little basement (below the dank little bar) hosts fringe punk, electro, and rock for a fashionista set, in an environment that has all the cinematic charms of the shadowy old neighborhood. 916 Grant (at Washington), 982-0072.
Lingba Lounge: The impeccable DJ regulars have a penchant for downtempo, Afro-Cuban, and Southern Hemisphere house, which form a perfect soundtrack for the club's safari-themed furnishings. There isn't much action on the dance floor until the crowd has had enough blender drinks, but the room makes for cozy, quality listening. 1498 18th St. (at Connecticut), 355-0001.
Lit: Blessed with an intricate wood bar, the former Pow! features live DJs and a scant dance floor, which could use a few more IKEA mirrors to open it up. An above-average place to spend the night. 101 Sixth St. (at Mission), 278-0940.
Little Baobab: The combination of Creole food, Senegalese cocktails, and Brazilian music makes Baobab a wonderful multicultural celebration of food and fun. 3388 19th St. (at Mission), 643-3558.
Loft 11: Hip hop and bass-y beats bounce from the turntables as well-dressed twentysomethings grind on the dance floor. 316 11th St. (at Folsom), 701-8111.
Lou's Pier 47 Club: Live blues blares seven days a week at Lou's, a tourist-attracting club and restaurant in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf that hosts more than 65 bands each month. 300 Jefferson (at Jones), 771-5687.
Luggage Store Gallery: This eclectic cultural collective hosts exhibits and music in this gallery space as well as two others in S.F. Depending on the night, there might be experimental instrumental sounds, a hip hop special event, or a comedy open mike. 1007 Market (at Sixth St.), 255-5971.
Mad Dog in the Fog: British expats flock here for televised “football” games and pints of their favorite ale. Check out the infamous pub quiz on Thursday, reggae DJs on Friday, and rockabilly bands on Saturday. 530 Haight (at Fillmore), 626-7279.
Make-Out Room: It feels almost like a bingo parlor at the community church. Fortunately, the quirky Midwestern atmosphere of this bar lends itself to the mostly folk and country acts that play here. 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), 647-2888.
Marrakech: Moroccan décor, Middle Eastern music (both live and DJ'd), and phyllo dough make Marrakech a choice spot for a meal or drinks. On weekends you can trade moves with professional belly dancers. 419 O'Farrell (at Gough), 776-6717.
Martuni's: This very gay piano bar features pianists ranging from the classically trained to the classically cornball. Its solid reputation as a place to get tipsy and belt out a little Sondheim keeps its walls packed. But don't think that just anyone can step up to the mike — the tone-deaf are weeded out posthaste. 4 Valencia (at Market), 241-0205.
Mecca: DJs spinning soul songs almost make up for the pricey entrees and steep cocktails. But if you've got it, Mecca's worth it. 2029 Market (at Dolores), 621-7000.
Metronome Ballroom: Come learn to dance like the pros — swing, salsa, tango, and other partnered steps — or just come to show off. Either way, the DJs and live bands send people twirling and twisting. 1830 17th St. (at De Haro), 252-9000.
Mezzanine: Is that 50 Cent and his posse? J. Lo? This place is red-velvet slick, although the dance floor's loud enough and packed enough that you may forget. Or you can just go upstairs to the more chilled-out lounge. 444 Jessie (at Fifth St.), 820-9669.
Mighty: Live funk bands and beat-friendly DJs make it easy to show off on the dance floor; the $10 cover, however, does not. 119 Utah (at 15th St.), 626-7001.
Milk: As one of the Haight's best-sounding rooms, Milk features DJ sets of dance-ready hip hop, soul, and funk. If you show up before 9 p.m., admission is free. “Sushi Sunday” is a matinee of up-and-coming rock and punk bands that starts in the afternoon and carries no cover. 1840 Haight (at Stanyan), 387-MILK.
Mint Karaoke Lounge: Top-notch singers — amateur and, it's suspected, otherwise — flex their intimidating karaoke skills here, but the lounge's dim lighting and cozy feel when packed in (which is often) are sufficiently comforting to the rest of us, too. 1942 Market (at Duboce), 626-4726.
Monkey Club: Bright primary colors and creamy curtains create a Middle East-meets-Hollywood setting for beats and grooves that are equally world-wise in scope. The clientele seems friendlier than most (but maybe that's because the delicious drinks are so strong). 2730 21st St. (at Bryant), 647-6546.
Moose's: Talked about more for its food than for its jazz pianists (and rightly so), Moose's boasts a devoted slew of regulars and a full and friendly bar for one-timers. 1652 Stockton (at Filbert), 989-7800.
Movida Lounge: Nightly DJs dropping hip hop (from the Roots to the rest) along with punchy sake cocktails rank this tiny hangout as one of the city's hippest. 200 Fillmore (at Waller), 934-8637.
New Langton Arts: The 55-person theater houses the fringe — from experimental performance art to John Cage-like music. Though puzzling at times, these weekly shows always sizzle. 1246 Folsom (at Ninth St.), 626-5416.
Nickie's: When the Lower Haight was dirty and funky, Nickie's was the place to dance and get sweaty till early in the a.m. Now the neighborhood's changed, but Nickie's still serves up some of the best weekly parties in town as patrons get down to the sound of reggae, hip hop, soul, world beats — and a weekly Grateful Dead jam. 460 Haight (at Fillmore), 621-6508. [page]
Noe Valley Ministry: At NVM — home to the “Noe Valley Music” series — come hear high-class bluegrass, folk, and old-time music in a stunning 200-person sanctuary (don't worry; they set up chairs). Tickets can be pricey, but the tunes are quality. 1021 Sanchez (at 23rd St.), 282-2317.
N'Touch Dance Club: From karaoke to thumping house beats, from male go-go dancers to divas, this gay club offers nightly spice, teeming with vibrancy and attitude. 1548 Polk (at Sacramento), 441-8413.
Old Rogue: This Irish pub has live music nearly every night of the week, including an open-mike night on Thursdays that’s become very popular with area songsmiths. On the weekends things get a bit louder when local rock and punk acts take the stage. But the schedule changes almost daily, so call ahead. 2319 Taraval (at 33rd Ave.), 566-9122.
Odeon: The Odeon ranks up there with the quirkiest of local establishments. Although yuppies and gawkers aren't always welcomed, some of the most fun and untamed of music and cabaret acts are. 3223 Mission (at Valencia), 550-6994.
Oxygen Bar, Sushi & Sake Lounge: A live DJ bar where you can also inhale oxygen, drink odd libations, and dig on the chill vibes, man. 795 Valencia (near 19th St.), 255-2102.
Papa Toby’s Revolution Cafe & Art Bar: The walls of this breezy Mission District cafe display a continuously changing exhibition of local visual art, and Papa Toby’s diverse music calendar follows suit. Two or three times a week, the small room offers free live jazz, creative folk, and (occasionally) laptop-driven ambient music. The lineup is always in flux, so be sure to call first. 3248 22nd St. (at Valencia), 642-0474.
Paradise Lounge: The former altrock club has reinvented itself to become a scenester heaven, featuring live pop bands and house-music DJs. See and be seen at this SOMA hot spot. 1501 Folsom (at 11th St.), 621-1911.
The Park: Located next to SBC Park, this place might seem like just another sports bar. But with an impressive roster of local talent — bands ranging from jazz to rock to Top 40 — and a bar that has more than just Coors Light on tap, this tasteful but accessible venue is one more reason to venture near the Giants stadium. 747 Third St (at Townsend), 974-1925.
Peacock Lounge: Channeling a sort of lodge/frat boy watering hole, with all its requisite joviality and excessive drinking, this Lower Haight anomaly seems to be open only when the good mood strikes. It's best to call before heading over. 552 Haight (at Fillmore), 621-9850.
Peña PachaMama: Latin rhythms and Cajun soul (and everything in between) soar here as listeners munch on savory Latin American food or head-bop at the bar. Moderate prices yield massive pleasures. 1630 Powell (between Union and Green), 646-0018.
The Pendulum: Nightly DJs give the gay male crowd what it wants — in this case soul music (old and new) — prompting swinging of all types on the dance floor inside and the patio outside. 4146 18th St. (at Collingwood), 863-4441.
Pier 23: This always-hoppin' waterfront spot bursts with a range of slick nightly bands — rock, reggae, salsa, and jazz (and various combinations thereof). Usually crowded, always fun. Pier 23, Embarcadero & Filbert, 362-5125.
Pink: Although a wee bit unbefitting for a venue near the Mission District's coarse 16th and South Van Ness intersection, this new venue (replacing the admired Liquid) justifies its address with its bold elegance and nonintrusive French psychedelic and house beats. Decked out with an awesome chandelier, snappy seating, and lots of pink, DJ Franky Boissy's club brings a touch of class to an area in much need of it. 2925 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 431-8889.
Place Pigalle: This comfy Parisian-themed bar tucked away in Hayes Valley is a home away from home for many in the neighborhood. Listen to low-key DJs play mellow downtempo and breakbeats while you play pool, foosball, or board games. 520 Hayes (at Octavia), 552-2671.
Plough & Stars: Throwing back pints to a live soundtrack of traditional jigs and reels gives this Richmond watering hole a notably authentic Irish feel. Though P&S occasionally opens the stage to folk acts, the Emerald Isle crooners are the real treat — whether offering tear-in-your-beer ballads or pint-swinging sing-alongs. 116 Clement (at Second Ave.), 751-1122.
Pound-SF: Tucked away (but worth the effort to find) is this edgy live concert venue, host to metal, rockabilly, and other branches of rock 'n' roll. 100 Cargo (at Pier 96), 826-9202.
Ramp: The musical tastes at this waterfront bar lean toward light jazz, pop, and easy listening most of the year, but in the summer a live salsa band accompanies the weekend brunch. When enjoying the Bloody Marys and boleros, remember to bring sunglasses and watch out for sea gulls. 855 China Basin (at Mission Rock), 621-2378.
Rasselas Jazz Club: This upscale urban spot in the heart of the Fillmore offers up nightly live jazz, blues, and R&B. Enjoy delicious Ethiopian food at the bar, fresh from the adjoining restaurant, and take in the scene in San Francisco's own “Jazz Preservation District.” 1534 Fillmore (at Geary), 346-8696.
Rawhide II: This SOMA mainstay features a mixed bag of music, with different nights dedicated to goth, fetish, '80s, new wave, and more. A seafaring theme greets you in the front, but don't get stuck at the dock — check out the three floors of dancing and the outside terrace upstairs. 280 Seventh St. (at Folsom), 621-1197. [page]
Red Devil Lounge: A variety of independent rock bands performs in this intimate, sassy space (clad in comfy booths and red Chinese paper lanterns); on Sundays there's a movie in addition to the live show. 1695 Polk (at Clay), 921-1695.
Rick’s Restaurant & Bar: Quality local combos provide live jazz and blues during Rick’s popular Sunday brunch, but the best entertainment at this island-themed Sunset District bar ’n’ grill happens on the first Monday of every month, when Rick hosts a luau, replete with authentic fare and Hawaiian tunes. Grass skirts highly recommended. 1940 Taraval (at 29th Ave.), 731-8900.
Rickshaw Stop: Though the Rickshaw’s unmarked facade makes it a little difficult to find, you’ll receive ample rewards for the search. Here it’s possible to double-fist a Pabst and a corn dog while enjoying some of the most progressive DJs and bands in the city. Particular props to the biweekly “Loaded” party, a night dedicated to “bands that can actually play and DJs that can actually mix.” 155 Fell (at Van Ness), 861-2011.
Rite Spot Cafe: Folk and jazz dominate the Spot's ever-improving ambience. A perfect place to see live music and sit comfortably while noshing on a plate of your favorite carbohydrates. 2099 Folsom (at 17th St.), 552-6066.
Roccapulco: Salsa dancing is the featured attraction at this gigantic Mission District supper club, which loves nothing more than a great party (including annual extravaganzas for Mardi Gras and Carnaval). 3140 Mission (at Cesar Chavez), 648-6611.
RoHan Lounge: DJs spinning vintage funk and modern downtempo grooves in this cozy den valiantly compete for attention with smooth yet potent soju cocktails and a creative Korean take on tapas. 3809 Geary (at Second Ave.), 221-5095.
Rose Pistola: Call for the schedule of live jazz at this restaurant known for its hearty and decadent Italian family-style fare. 532 Columbus (at Stockton), 399-0499.
Ruby Skye: One of San Francisco's most well-heeled dance clubs, this multilevel bar is host to steamy house-music DJs (with several special guests and events each month), weekly concerts, and corporate parties. 420 Mason (at Geary), 693-0777.
Sacred Grounds Cafe: This Haight local claims to be S.F.'s oldest coffeehouse, which provides a clue to its musical tastes. It has an assortment of weekly comedy and poetry nights, but the pass-the-hat musical performances are mostly acoustic troubadours, open mike jam sessions, and, well, coffeehouse music. 2085 Hayes (at Cole), 387-3859.
Saloon: Revered for its daily live blues performances, the Saloon also has the rugged distinction of having survived the 1906 earthquake and standing as the oldest bar in San Francisco (opened in 1861). 1232 Grant (at Columbus), 989-7666.
San Francisco Brewing Co.: The ambience of Cheers if you replaced Norm and Cliff with tourists, plus live jazz and blues on varying weekday nights. What it lacks in elegance it makes up for with damn tasty beer. 155 Columbus (at Jackson), 434-3344.
Savanna Jazz Club: Formerly the Voodoo Lounge, Savanna stands out in its Outer Mission neighborhood. It's as if a North Beach jazz club dropped a spore on Valencia. Intimate and comfortable, with accents of fake plastic plants, Savanna presents live jazz nightly, along with dinner and drinks at a reasonable price. 2937 Mission (at 25th St.), 285-3369.
Shanghai 1930: Opulent and unique, Shanghai 1930 includes a Chinese restaurant, a jazz venue with nightly live performances from several local bands, and a members-only cigar lounge. 133 Steuart (at Mission), 896-5600.
Simple Pleasures Cafe: This low-key Outer Richmond mainstay has been a favorite of poets and folkie songwriters since it opened in the '70s. While people can take in a book and a pint in the quiet back room, the stage out front hosts low-volume sets of acoustic rock, folk, and the occasional plugged-in pop band. 3434 Balboa (at 35th Ave.), 387-4022.
Skip's Tavern: Skip's could have been plucked from the roadside of a flyover state by a huge tornado and dropped — scruffy patrons and all — into Bernal Heights. It's more heartland than highbrow. Despite a long legal battle with ASCAP, guitar heroes of the neighborhood parade across the corner stage every night for no cover, offering electric blues licks by the bushel. 453 Cortland (at Andover), 282-3456.
Skylark Lounge: A dandy DJ bar with grand, high ceilings (which must have looked even grander when smokers reigned supreme in our nightlife). During one visit, a group of elimiDATE-rs walked in and, with much dissatisfaction, walked out. Our point? We love and thank Skylark. 3089 16th St. (at Valencia), 621-9294.
Slim's: A midsize rock club hosting up-and-coming bands as well as established underground favorites. High ceilings and plenty of space mean less claustrophobia but also less intimacy. 333 11th St. (at Folsom), 255-0333.
Sno-drift: Bay Area snow bunnies delight in the décor of this kitschy, Alpine-themed destination. Whether throwing back highballs to the thump of house music in the front or grooving to hip hop in the back, upper-crust clubbers pack the place on the weekends. Though Sno-drift doesn't house the city's busiest dance floors, DJs in both rooms spin quality sets into the wee hours. 1830 Third St. (at 16th St.), 431-4766.
Soluna Café & Lounge: Nestled right in the bleeding heart of the Civic Center, it's the best place, next to City Hall, to have a good laugh and a good time. Funk and world beats dominate the popular club nights at this spacious restaurant and lounge. 272 McAllister (at Larkin), 621-2200.
Space 550: Uses for this 15,000-square-foot venue, with its multiple levels of dance floors and lounges, vary widely, from gay-centric house music sweat-downs to underground hip hop DJ contests and breakbeat/drum 'n' bass nights. 550 Barneveld (between Industrial and Oakdale), 550-8286.
The Stud: Although small and cramped when packed, the Stud rules over other gay clubs with some of the best local and national DJs, innovative club nights (“Trannyshack” and “Guilty,” to name just two), and overall atmosphere. The “smoking lounge” outside the entrance is a club scene in and of itself. 399 Ninth St. (at Harrison), 252-7883. [page]
Studio Z: The mezzanine of Studio Z offers a view of one of the most eclectic performance spaces in the Bay Area. A regular home to performance poetry events, the spacious club also hosts live reggae, world beat, rock, and fusion. Even if the genres are all over the map, the quality is always top drawer. 314 11th St. (at Folsom), 252-7666.
Sublounge: A great DJ bar in the not-yet-great Dogpatch neighborhood (first-rate DJs make it worth the trip). A clean, cool, and sometimes Burning Man-ish joint for dancing and/or playing a few rounds on the two PlayStations. 628 20th St. (at Third St.), 552-3603.
Suede: House, drum 'n' bass, and everything in between thump and grind at Suede, where partyers succumb to the rhythms of the dance floor. Expensive drinks and a surprisingly friendly staff make overcoming the butterflies somewhat easier. 383 Bay (at Mason), 399-9555.
Suite one8one: DJ Mei-Lwun's seedy mash-ups of hip hop, booty, and classic rock might not be the perfect fit for the super-swank environs, but his Friday residency brings in the club's hippest clientele. Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday the DJs spin hip hop, house, funk, and soul with a conventional flavor. 181 Eddy (at Taylor), 345-9900.
Tempest: Maneuver through the mess of bikes to the spacious back patio, and it won't take long to figure out that this unassuming SOMA dive is a favorite of punks, anarchists, and messengers. Accordingly, the stage is home to crust punk, noise, and rock. Though the performances are infrequent, they're nice and loud. 431 Natoma (between Fifth and Sixth Sts.), 495-1863.
Ten 15 Folsom: A central hub of S.F.'s dance scene, it boasts three enormous dance floors, an internationally renowned roster of DJs, and a guaranteed late-night party. Experimental DJ sets in the basement are a treat for heavy listeners, while the masses rage to more standard house, high-energy, and techno fare on the main level. 1015 Folsom (at Sixth St.), 431-1200.
Thee Parkside: This longtime home to bikers and blue-collars has transformed itself into one of the city's finest small rooms for rock. The calendar is jammed with the crème de la crème of garage, indie, and underground acts delivering intimate shows in the main room for a low cover. 1600 17th St. (at Wisconsin), 503-0393.
Thirsty Bear Brewing Company: Though most patrons come out for the selection of home-brewed bevvies, Thirsty Bear has recently become something of a live music venue. A cast of downtempo DJs spins on Thursday and the Sunday night residency by Toque Flamenco provides some tuneful ambience. 661 Howard (at Third St.), 974-0905.
Tongue & Groove: So you've always wanted to hear Scandal's '80s chart-topper “I Am the Warrior” live, but you were born a decade too late? Find solace at T&G's Thursday night cover band series, where live acts pay tribute to the hits of yesteryear. Other weekend days, the club hosts an assortment of local rock flavors from funk to indie. 2513 Van Ness (at Union), 928-0404.
Tonic: You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but judging a bar by its jukebox is a safe bet. The one in this hipster meat-market boasts U.K. alternative staples (Blur, Smiths, Pulp) by the dozen. Occasional DJs spin hip hop, lite house, and soul, but be warned — they rarely bring much action to the dance floor. 2360 Polk (at Union), 771-5535.
The Top: Aside from a booming sound system manned every night by talented DJs (local and noteworthy out-of-town guests playing the spectrum of electronic music), this Lower Haight haunt is largely no-frills — and that thankfully includes the drinks, which eschew dilution in favor of pure punch. 424 Haight (at Webster), 864-7386.
Top of the Mark: This famed martini bar offers high-class wallpaper music on the weekends, including lounge piano, easy listening, classical, and some jazz combos. The best stuff comes late on Friday and Saturday nights, when the drinks pour with a heavy hand and the jazz bands blow with a little more gusto. Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental Hotel, 1 Nob Hill, 999 California (at Mason), 616-6916.
Trax: The DJ fare can be anything from trip hop to rock 'n' roll headbangers. A laid-back staff and cozy lighting attract a mixed lot of tourists and barflies, who — with the right amount of liquid courage — populate the dance floor. Though its DJs may not be the most sophisticated crate-diggers in town, this Haight-Ashbury mainstay rarely has a dull moment. 1437 Haight (at Ashbury), 864-4213.
The Tunnel Top: Its DJs have a penchant for spinning globe-trotting hip hop that explores everything from South American grooves to Afro-Cuban anthems. The cozy upstairs balcony is where most of the dancing happens, while drinkers downstairs enjoy silent movies projected on the wall and a rough-cut Euro atmosphere. 601 Bush (at Stockton), 986-8900.
The Velvet Lounge: Thursday through Saturday, it fills up with fashionable clubbers who partake in hip hop, house, and funky favorites. The music might be predictable, but when the minions of tube-top-and-tight-pants-adorned partyers get going, anything can happen. 443 Broadway (at Montgomery), 788-0228.
Verdi Club: Lace up your wingtips: The Verdi has survived the rise and fall of the swing fad to endure as one of the city's premier venues for live and DJed big-band dancing. Monday nights are for swing, and Thursday nights remain a favorite for tango aficionados; dinner dances take place one a month. 2424 Mariposa (at Potrero), 861-9199.
Vertigo: It's tough to get a bead on Vertigo's musical selections; the DJs at the ornate but unpretentious Polk Street watering hole might spin anything from Patsy Cline to DJ Shadow. Late in the evening the beats get louder, and the mixed crowd — tourists, locals, folks of all ages — takes to the floor, enjoying grooving pop, R&B, and soul from the past 30 years. 1160 Polk (at Sutter), 674-1278. [page]
Voda: This ultra-sleek downtown vodka bar starts weekend-long house and hip hop parties on Wednesday nights and keeps them going into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Uptempo, groove-heavy house music dominates the turntables, but if you pay close attention, the DJs occasionally treat the non-dancing crowd to some interesting stylistic tangents. 56 Belden (at Bush), 677-9242.
Washington Square Bar & Grill: This warm Italian nook (briefly taken over by the Cobalt Tavern) is an enduring North Beach mainstay for business professionals and tourists alike. Most regulars know it as the Washbag, and they enjoy a charming cast of bartenders, moderately priced comfort food, and nightly piano jazz. 1707 Powell (at Union), 982-8123.
Whisper: Its spaciousness and “upscale dress code” make it a tad daunting for a casual night of listening to music and/or getting wasted. Still, with its VIP seating, valet parking, rooftop terrace, and other posh facets, it comes off as a place to see and be seen — if you've got the cash. 535 Florida (between Mariposa and 17th St.), 356-9800.
Wish: This cozy destination hosts some of the most creative-minded DJ residencies in SOMA. “Exist,” an ongoing Friday set of noncommercial hip hop and downtempo grooves, is a particular favorite, though every night brings a diverse crowd of socialites, neighborhood regulars, and deep listeners. Bonus: There's rarely a cover. 1539 Folsom (at 11th St.), 278-9474.
xyz: This stylized restaurant attempts the futuristic “ultra-lounge” vibe Thursday through Saturday nights, when DJs treat drinkers to a blend of relaxed house, trance, and ambient selections. Though quaint, the candlelight sessions might not make the best listening, since the high-class after-work crowd tends to chatter over the tunes. 181 Third St. (at Howard), 817-7836.
19 Broadway, 17 Broadway (at Embarcadero), Fairfax, 459-1091
21 Grand, 449B 23rd St. (near Broadway), Oakland, 510-444-7263
924 Gilman, 924 Gilman (at Ninth St.), Berkeley, 510-525-9926
5th Amendment, 3255 Lakeshore (at Lake Park), Oakland, 510-832-3242
Albatross Pub, 1822 San Pablo (at Hearst), Berkeley, 510-843-2473
Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo (at Gilman), Berkeley, 510-525-5054
The Baltic, 135 Park (at Washington), Point Richmond, 510-235-2532
The Bench & Bar, 120 11th St. (at Oak), Oakland, 510-444-2266
Bison Brewing Company, 2598 Telegraph (at Parker), Berkeley, 510-841-7734
Blake's on Telegraph, 2367 Telegraph (at Durant), Berkeley, 510-848-0886
Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph (at 16th St.), Oakland, 510-763-7711
Caribbean Gardens, 1306 Bayshore, Burlingame, 650-344-1797
Cato's Ale House, 3891 Piedmont (at Montell), Oakland, 510-655-3349
Chris' New Harbor, 150 Harbor, Belmont, 650-591-1881
Club Fusetti, 815 West Francisco (at Hwy 101), San Rafael, 459-6079
Club Muse, 856 San Pablo (at Solano), Albany, 510-528-2878
Echo, 1411 Locust (at Cypress), Walnut Creek, 925-934-9490
Fourth Street Tavern, 711 Fourth St. (at Lindaro), San Rafael, 456-4828
Freight & Salvage, 1111 Addison (at University), Berkeley, 510-548-1761
Gallery 23ten, 2310 Telegraph (at 23rd St.), Oakland, 510-986-0847
Gatsby's, 39 Caledonia (at Johnson), Sausalito, 332-4500
Gliss, 1313 Park (at Encinal), Alameda, 650-634-9252
Ivy Room, 858 San Pablo (at Solano), Albany, 510-524-9220
The Jazz House, 3192 Adeline (at Martin Luther King Jr.), Berkeley, 510-655-9755
Jimmie's, 1731 San Pablo (at 17th St.), Oakland, 510-268-8445
Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck (at Berkeley BART), Berkeley, 510-THE-ROCK
Kimball's Carnival, 522 Second St. (at Washington), Oakland, 510-444-6979
Kimball's East, 5800 Shellmound (at Powell), Emeryville, 510-658-2555
La Peña, 3105 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley, 510-849-2568
Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, 510-655-6161
No Name Bar, 757 Bridgeway (at Princess), Sausalito, 332-1392
Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth St. (at Franklin), Suite 290, Oakland, 510-637-0455
Peri's, 29 Broadway (at 11th St.), Fairfax, 459-9910
Plymouth United Church of Christ, 424 Monte Vista (at Oakland), Oakland, 510-654-5300
Port Lite, 229 Brush (at Third St.), Oakland, 510-451-0600
Radio, 435 13th St. (at Franklin), Oakland, 510-451-2889
Ruby Room, 132 14th St. (at Madison), Oakland, 510-444-7224
Savanna Grill, 55 Tamal Vista (at Lucky), Corte Madera, 924-6775
Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley, 510-841-2082
Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph (at 23rd St.), Oakland, 510-444-6174
Sweetwater, 153 Throckmorton (at Miller), Mill Valley, 388-2820