Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Gay Bar

    Twin Peaks Tavern

    For years, the young and the beautiful have poked fun at the venerable Twin Peaks bar. "The Glass Coffin," it's been dubbed, for the wraparound windows that allow a glimpse inside at the bar's patrons, gay men in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. While it has long been sport to snicker at the "pathetic" old men and their martinis, let's just consider who and what in the Castro is truly pathetic. What about the Detour, with its tired décor of... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Straight Yuppie Women Act Like Lesbians for an Hour

    111 Minna Gallery

    Something strange is going on at 111 Minna on the first Saturday of the month. During the progressive-house night known as "Loöq Hard," there are platinum blond, diet-starved women in black halter tops kissing each other. It used to be that Marina girls with names like Muffy and Heather would go to "Loöq Hard" to dance, and maybe, if they were feeling especially flirtatious (read: drunk), Muffy would do a mock bump-and-grind with Heather, in order to turn on Biff... More >>

  • Best San Francisco Movie

    Vertigo

    San Francisco's pastel charms and mysterious, fog-shrouded ambience have attracted filmmakers for generations, even before Erich von Stroheim shot Greed here in 1922, but few movies have captured the city's wraithlike spirit and impassive beauty as well as Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. A retired detective with a dizzying fear of heights becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman who is herself obsessed with the past: her spiritual forebear, a contessa who met a tragic end in San Francisco a century earlier. Splendid... More >>

  • Best Place to Take a Chance on a Band You've Never Heard Of

    Hemlock Tavern

    What seemed at first to be a dicey proposition -- put a hipster bar in a neighborhood where few hipsters live -- has now proven to be gold. Since opening last October, the spacious Hemlock Tavern has become a beacon for jean-jacketed, bedheaded coolios who like to toss back a few drinks, eyeball each other's duds, and check out some great music by bands they've never heard of. Thanks to a very open-minded booking policy, the Hemlock's 55-person-capacity performance space... More >>

  • Strangest Little Bar

    Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon

    Heinold's First and Last Chance was originally built in 1880 from the belly of a whaling ship. After several years as a bunkhouse for local oyster fishermen, the tiny one-story building was bought and renovated by former deckhand John Heinold. The current bar looks much the way it did at the turn of the previous century. The saloon's wood floor tilts downward from the front and back walls at a 30-degree angle, while the bar itself slants enough that you're... More >>

  • Best Place to Wind Up a First Date

    Dalva

    Well, the movie or mellow dinner went well, and now you're ready to have that "getting to know you" conversation. You know, the one where she decides whether you listen well enough to see you again, and you weigh whether that peculiar laugh she has is endearing or annoying. But where? The back room at Dalva offers the perfect setting. One of the Mission's hippest watering holes, the narrow front room crams a sea of black-wearing patrons between the long... More >>

  • Best Place to Cop a Feel

    Exploratorium

    Like a tunnel of love with credibly educational overtones, the Tactile Dome will have you crawling, sliding, and climbing side by side with the object of your affection in complete and total darkness. Go ahead, reach out and grab something. The whole point of this fantastic 1971 exhibit is to reacquaint visitors with the remarkable and too often neglected sensation of touch. As you clamber through the maze, housed within a geodesic dome (or Bucky Ball, as we like to... More >>

  • Best Theme Bar

    Owl Tree

    The past few years have seen a proliferation of sceney theme bars, from the chilly ski lodge décor of Sno-drift to the aquatic blues of Backflip. Such halfhearted attempts at Disney-fying the drinking experience are shamed by the truly obsessive theme of the Owl Tree, an old-school dive bar at the edge of the Tenderloin. More than a clever marketing gimmick, the Owl Tree's motif is the manifestation of a deep passion -- a passion for owls. Barn owls, snowy... More >>

  • Best Thursday Night

    Skylark Bar

    We know there are many club choices on a Thursday night -- but how many offer a free cover; amazing DJs spinning deep house, Brazilian, and nu jazz; a dance floor; an eclectic crowd; and animated bartenders who concoct a mean drink for $5 or $6? Resident DJs Paul Craven, King Brit's Capitol A, David, and Tokyo imports Takeshi and Kazu keep the beat flowing until last call. The vibe is local -- no bridge-and-tunnelers here. Mission twenty- and thirtysomethings... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Stoned

    The Crucible

    Some say stone carving is a dying art, but you couldn't tell at the Crucible, the educational foundry and arts facility where experienced practitioners and novices can master the tricks of various trades, learning everything from how to get around a machine shop to welding metal, forging steel, blowing glass, and crafting neon sculptures. One of the only places in the Bay Area to learn stone carving and the fiery arts of blacksmithing and welding, the rambling East Bay warehouse... More >>

  • Best Museum

    California Academy of Sciences

    The well-curated SFMOMA and the wondrous Exploratorium were stiff competition, but the choice for best museum in San Francisco goes to the underrated California Academy of Sciences -- actually three museums in one: the Natural History Museum, Steinhart Aquarium, and Morrison Planetarium. Like MOMA's, the academy's creative and lucid exhibits can be visually stunning (for example, the current "Skulls" show, a room filled with thousands of skulls, from elephant to shrew; the vivid palettes of sea life; or the glorious... More >>

  • Best Piano Bar

    Martuni's

    If everything old is new again, then Martuni's may once again be considered cutting-edge. Considered the anti-karaoke bar, Martuni's has become a playful spot for San Francisco's moderately to extraordinarily talented singers to show off their chops among friends. If you've ever imagined what Cheers would be like set to music, Martuni's is a must-visit. The music is mellow, the musicians take all requests (generally classic jazz and show tunes), and anyone with a good ear and a decent voice... More >>

  • Best Place to Go Dancing for $5 on a Friday Night

    26 Mix

    Bay Area veteran DJs O-Dub and Vinnie Esparza spin dance-ready hip hop, vintage reggae, dancehall, Latin, and funk every second Friday of the month at 26 Mix. The DJs' seamless mix of both obscure records and old-school hits on the club's suspended turntables gets even the most determined wallflower onto the dance floor. But most of the diverse and un-yuppified crowd takes quickly to the music; there's always someone to dance with, yet always enough room to groove. And as... More >>

  • Best Marina Outpost in the Mission

    Blondie's Bar & No Grill

    Of all San Francisco's neighborhoods, the Mission boasts the scene that's hardest to define. Bars up and down the vibrant Valencia strip on a Saturday night boast mellow vibes, dim lighting, and diverse clienteles. And then there's Blondie's, which has somehow evolved into a portal to Chestnut Street, where everyone is blond and guzzling one of way-too-many precious martini varieties. If you happen to wander in, there's no point in wondering where all these Marina types came from. Just enjoy... More >>

  • Best Place to Drink Away a Sunday

    Zeitgeist

    On a Sunday afternoon, there is no mellower place to be in San Francisco than the courtyard at Zeitgeist. Hidden behind a somehow foreboding purple exterior on a block not quite in the Mission or the Castro, an eclectic mix of hipsters, bikers, and weekend warriors mingles among rows of picnic tables, passing around pitchers of beer, joints, and, occasionally, a damn good string-bean-garnished Bloody Mary. One of the city's best jukeboxes blasts a selection of tunes that's as mixed... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Hipsters Take a Spill

    Cafe Du Nord

    The cozy basement feel of the Castro's Cafe Du Nord accounts for much of this music venue's appeal. But with every tucked-away underground lounge comes a stairway down to that underground lounge, and that's where navigating Du Nord gets dicey. To witness the phenomenon yourself, just grab a seat near the door and watch as hipster after hipster, gaily re-entering from a smoke break, fails to negotiate those last few steps, slips, and flops to a shameful thud among the... More >>

  • Best Grungy Art Factory

    Artists' Television Access

    In the punkish 1970s, this small storefront art gallery was known not for its art, but as a shooting gallery (as in heroin, speed, sex) serving Valencia Street degenerates. When anarcho-artists took over the space nearly two decades ago, they stuffed thousands of used needles behind the wallboard and then dedicated the space to making alternative television and political art. In the early 1990s, ATA became a center of radical anti-war art and anarcho-communist agitation against what ATA-ites saw as... More >>

Search Best Of Awards