Welcome to the second Best of San Francisco of the pandemic era. If this feels a little abrupt, that’s because it is. We published our 2020 “Best Of S.F.” poll in December, instead of May, as we would have normally done before the COVID-era. As you can tell, our sense of time — and probably yours, too — is still a little off kilter.
Pandemic year two is as good a time as any to take stock of where we’re at as a city — the beloved businesses that we’ve lost, the old-timers that have stuck around, and the exciting upstarts that have managed to open during this difficult time. Surveying the big picture, it’s clear the simple narratives we’ve clung too aren’t working too well. The pandemic was devastating to the city’s culture, but not a death knell. The recovery is well underway, but it’s uneven, and slower than anybody would like.
FROM THE EDITORS
We’re grateful that we can still take solace in familiar old survivors, whether that means enjoying a heaping plate of pasta at Gold Mirror, or browsing obscure records at Grooves. The businesses that have opened this year, in spite of everything, mean that when we’re ready, we can expand our horizons with boozeless beverages at Ocean Beach Cafe, or booze-full globally inspired drinks at Kona’s Street Market.
We should take time and space to mourn, too. Far too many restaurants, bars, venues, and stores have closed this year to name. We’ll especially miss Slim’s, Harry Harrington’s, and The Stud — all places where SF Weekly staffers past and present have whiled and danced away many hours. All is not lost, in all cases, however. The worker-owned collective that runs The Stud vows to find a new space. World-famous Zanze’s Cheesecake may have closed its doors for good, but the owners hope to keep selling their delicacies at local grocery stores. The owners of shuttered Revolution Cafe left patrons with a glimmer of hope that they, too, would find a new space.
There’s still so much uncertainty — about the trajectory of the virus, the fate of countless businesses, the sky turning orange and the air becoming unbreathable. But whatever happens, we’ve got each other, San Francisco — a hell of a lot of people who love this city and want to make it the best that it can be.