A Drink at Fool’s Errand Proves Just How Wonderful Divis Has Gotten

The successor to Noe Valley’s Hamlet and Caskhouse, John Dampeer's newest wine-and-beer bar feels right at home on the city's It-street.

Maybe it’s the relentlessly cold, gray weather, but simply standing right outside the door of Fool’s Errand, a month-old wine bar on the same block of Divisadero Street as Barvale and Bar Crudo, made me and everybody I was with happy. It wasn’t so much the rare nice evening or even the slight getting-away-with-something feeling of holding a glass in my hand while my feet were planted on a public sidewalk. It was the rush of passers-by. When you run into friends, and the friends you were already with also run into other friends of their own, you feel connected to the city in a profound way that a slight, after-work buzz only deepens. Even if all you exchange are nods and an occasional air-kiss, it feels substantial.

In the former semi-subterranean Mojo Bicycle Cafe, Fool’s Errand is the third effort from John Dampeer, whose first two projects — Hamlet and Caskhouse — were convivial Noe Valley spots for beers and bites. Street traffic, or the lack thereof, sealed their joint fates (and the Hamlet space remains empty, although Caskhouse has become Hi-Way Burger and Fry). Noe has plenty of pedestrians, of course, but the ones who hit the bottle hardest are usually going for milk. So Dampeer needed a new formula, but he’d already been inching from “restaurant with good drinks” to “bar with good food.”

Fool’s Errand, a winking nod to his perseverance, proves that the template was largely there and location was the sticky wicket. (Fleet Foxes said as much in their song of the same name: “What have I got if not a thought?”) As SF Weekly has argued many times already, the eight blocks of Divisadero between Haight Street and Golden Gate Avenue — or maybe from Powder Shaved Snow to Brenda’s Meat and Three — have long displaced Valencia Street as the city’s culinary aorta. Unquestionably, the cool hunters and brand-activators are coming, but for now, anchored by Nopa and Bi-Rite and 4505 and Ragazza and Little Star and The Page, it feels real, a neighborhood catering to city residents first and foremost.

And having a drink at on Fool’s Errand’s parklet lets you see for yourself, if only through people-watching.

You can do so starting at 2 p.m., when happy hour starts and free popcorn comes with it. What shall you drink, then? There are six reds and six whites by the glass, overwhelmingly Old World varietals, plus 10 or so beers on tap, another handful in bottles and cans, and a rotating bottle pour of something special. Regional heavy-hitters like Cellarmaker and Berryessa Brewing are especially prominent, the better to pair with a charcuterie platter or some buffalo burrata and heirloom tomato.

In other words, Fool’s Errand didn’t reinvent the wheel; it drove away on it. But what you’re throwing back matters less than where you’re doing it. Come quickly, you’ll be drinking the stars.

Fool’s Errand, 639 Divisadero St., foolserrandsf.com

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