Drink 2014: Nightlife Listings

21 Club: The 21 Club is one of the last remaining bastions of Tenderloin dive bar living. This small liquor den — at the untouristy intersection of Turk and Taylor — serves stiff drinks and frothy beers to a diverse crowd of both grizzled old-timers and bohemian youth. The walls are crammed with dusty mementos and non-ironic kitsch that complement a jukebox laden with musical memories from decades gone by. Although the overhead TV is usually tuned to sports or the primetime movie du jour, sometimes the most intense drama happens right outside the 21 Club's front door — here in the heart of the Tenderloin, life itself is a round-the-clock tragicomedy. 98 Turk, 771-9655.

500 Club: The 500 Club is a lounge in the old-fashioned meaning of the term: Rather than boasting sleek modern furniture and slick modern cocktails, this longtime Mission District standby features retro leather booths, back-to-basics drinks, and classic rock and country on the jukebox. Sadly, the pool table is no more — they needed the extra space to pack 'em in on weekends. A more favorable and flavorful recent development, however, is the opening of Clare's Deli next door, meaning you can now get delicious sandwiches and snacks delivered to your seat in the bar. 500 Guerrero, 861-2500, fivehundredclub.com.

Aunt Charlie's Lounge: Boys, girls — what's the diff? Guys become gals as part of Aunt Charlie's “Hot Boxxx Girls” lip-sync show every Friday and Saturday night. During the day, this place is a Tenderloin dive bar — albeit one more gay than the neighbors — while nighttime events attract both old drag queens and ghetto-fab young hipsters. 133 Turk, 441-2922, auntcharlieslounge.com.

BeatBox: This location can claim more identities than Sybil, having been called Studio Z, Fat City, Siberia, and other names over the past few years. After a brief incubation and renovation period, the name has changed once again — to BeatBox — with a newly updated interior whose boxy, brick-walled forms are reminiscent of the neighborhood's recent industrial past. 314 11th St., 500-2675, beatboxsf.com.

Bender's: Sure, it burned — but a little fire can't keep rock 'n' roll down forever. With some new paint, a fresh supply of cheap beer, and a restocked jukebox blaring the scrungy S.F. bands of past & present, Bender's has resurrected itself to rock anew. Bands often prop themselves on the elevated corner steps and blast the Pabst out of your hands. The two pool tables are in constant use. And even the new paint job is finally starting to return to its faded former self. 806 S. Van Ness, 824-1800, bendersbar.com.

Boom Boom Room: Couches and cocktails complement a blues and funk boogie, which makes shaking it on the checkerboard dancefloor 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, 673-8000, boomboomblues.com.

Bottom of the Hill: This indie-slash-punk rock club is a revered local institution with all the staples you'd expect: kitschy retro decor, sticker-smothered bathrooms, and nightly entertainment that ranges from loud-as-hell to what-the-hell-was-that. A smoker's patio in back offers a welcome respite from the crowds and noise inside, or, for another form of distraction, you can scope the old event calendars from years gone by and try to count how many musicians played this small stage before moving on to huge theaters or even arenas — you'll run out of fingers before you run out of bands. 1233 17th St., 621-4455, bottomofthehill.com.

Brick & Mortar Music Hall: The former Coda Nightclub is back and stirring up a stew of new live music. Brick & Mortar's eclectic calendar presents funk, soul, jazz, rock, hip-hop, classical music, and more in a small, open space on the northernmost edge of the Mission District. 1710 Mission, brickandmortarmusic.com.

The Chapel: Housed in a stately 1917 former mortuary with rich red walls, high ceilings, and clear sight lines, the Chapel is a worthy bar, restaurant, and live music venue. Touring bands hit the stage often, and the Chapel is the official West Coast home of New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band, but the 400-capacity room also hosts top local talent. With Cajun food and the kind of cocktail menu you'd expect in 2014 San Francisco, this is one of the better spots on the new Valencia Street. 777 Valencia, 551-5157, thechapelsf.com.

Dear Mom: The Mission District's trendier half extends itself eastward at Dear Mom, a newly hip hangout in the (now totally unrecognizable) old El Rincon location. There's a pool table and Pabst for those who dutifully maintain a downscale-twentysomething hipster profile, but it's the exposed wood and bare bulbs that give away the bar's fancier adult airs. Dear Mom, can we borrow some money? 2700 16th St., 625-3362, dearmomsf.com.

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. The small, black-walled back room can get pretty hot and sweaty when the DJs are firing on all cylinders. With a motto like “service for the sick,” we can dig it. 3139 16th St., 552-5525.

DNA Lounge: Looking like a spaceship from The Matrix with futuristic factory decor on two floors, the remodeled DNA has long been a fixture on this happening 11th Street block. Regular goth-industrial nights, weekly “Bootie” mash-up parties, cabaret shows, burlesque escapades, and miscellaneous house or hip-hop jams happen alongside occasional rock gigs and other special events. Some nights are all-ages and/or 18+, so check with the club before heading out. 375 11th St., 626-1409, dnalounge.com.

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. DJs spin everything from country to funk, bands play everything from samba to punk, and the $1 Monday nights are the stuff of legend. 3158 Mission, 282-3325, elriosf.com.


Elbo Room: The Elbo Room ain't the rock Valhalla it once was, but a bar and pinball machines downstairs and a music venue upstairs provide entertainment that varies between DJ nights and live bands ranging from hip-hop to punk to funk to samba. There's never a cover charge for the downstairs bar, whose crimson-candlelit booths are often jam-packed with attractive scenesters. The second-floor music room, meanwhile, attracts a crowd as varied as the events themselves: hippies, hipsters, goths, rockers, hip-hop heads, salsa dancers, and old-school soul twisters. 647 Valencia, 552-7788, elbo.com.

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. Though somewhat dated in style, this venerable club's backyard grotto remains an urban oasis, with fountains and ferns and reverberating dance beats distracting from the fact that the highway runs right outside the gates. 401 Sixth St., 646-0999, theendup.com.

F8: Formerly Icon Ultra Lounge, F8 retains Icon's glowing space-age lighting scheme, while DJs spin dubstep, drum 'n' bass, trap, and other bass-heavy brands of EDM. 1192 Folsom, 857-1192, feightsf.com.

Hemlock Tavern: By showcasing some of the world's best underground indie-rock bands, this microvenue has quickly become one of the city's best. A crowded, clamorous bar up front — decorated with kitschy thrift-shop art, vintage beer paraphernalia, and some choice retro lamps — hides an intimate music room in back. There's also a terrarium-like smoking section off to one side, so you can get your nic fix without having to abandon your cocktail. The great (and free) jukebox selections, plus weekly punk DJs, fill out the hours when bands aren't playing. 1131 Polk, 923-0923, hemlocktavern.com.

Hotel Utah: The Old West and indie music come together at the Hotel Utah Saloon, where a small stage, an antique bar, and a diversely stocked jukebox set the scene. A gigantic taxidermied elk head stares down upon drinkers in the main section, which is dominated by a beautiful old wooden bar on one side and a long row of picture windows on the other. The adjacent music area is split between a small balcony (shaped to look like the stern of a sailing ship) and an intimate downstairs section with a scattering of tables and corner booths. Meaty grub fills the menu during the day, while eclectic local bands and acoustic songwriters fill the calendar at night. 500 Fourth St., 546-6300, hotelutah.com.

The Independent: One of the best mid-size venues in the region, the Independent boasts great sound and sightlines, not to mention a diverse calendar that pulls top acts from genres including indie rock, alt-country, electronica, post-punk, funk, hip-hop, reggae, and other music from around the globe. Headlining acts often make the jump to larger, less-intimate theaters, making the Independent a great place to say you saw them when they were still playing the club circuit. 628 Divisadero, 771-1420, theindependentsf.com.

The Knockout: The Knockout has been called a clubhouse for big kids, and that's a pretty apt description. Started by brothers and longtime Mission District bartenders dX and John Segura, the place just bleeds love for kitsch, rockabilly, monster movies, and low-brow culture. On any given night, there might be a touring mod band tearing up the stage, or a DJ spinning metal or old funk 45s, or a drunken, raucous game of bingo going down. There's a photo booth, a few tabletop videogames, and walls covered with dX's distinctive paintings and poster art. Look for the hip kids out front, plenty of tattoos inside, and John serving up an overflowing shotglass of Jim Beam on the planks. 3223 Mission, 550-6994, theknockoutsf.com.

Lexington Club: Cozy lesbian bar tucked into a Mission sidestreet. It's a bar, with lesbians — what more do you need to know? 3464 19th St., 863-2052, lexingtonclub.com.

LookOut: The elevated location, long windows, and outdoor balcony give this Castro bar its name, where queers nosh on pizza and dance to DJed music while keeping an eye out for people to meet. 3600 16th St., 703-9751, lookoutsf.com.

Madrone Art Bar: Unless you're dying to catch a show at the Independent, this is the place on Divisadero to go. Everything in here is created by local artists, from the design of the space right down to the menus, while DJs spin everything from hip-hop, funk, and soul to vintage jazz and retro rock 'n' roll. 500 Divisadero, 241-0202, madroneartbar.com.

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 perform here. Regular DJ nights also expand the soundtrack to include everything from Latin funk and Jamaican ska to New Wave and indie dance hits. 3225 22nd St., 647-2888, makeoutroom.com.

Mezzanine: A top-flight club on a dark city sidestreet, Mezzanine has elements of both red-velvet slickness and brick-wall industrial chic, although the dancefloor's loud enough and packed enough that you may not notice. Every week brings a fresh new music lineup, with talent ranging from electro hipsters and European house DJs to hip-hop MCs and indie rock bands, all playing through a sound system loud enough to shake the floor. If dancing isn't your thing, you can always go upstairs to the more chilled-out lounge or head out back for a cig break in the fenced-in smoking section. 444 Jessie, 625-8880, mezzaninesf.com.

Mighty: This warehousey (but stylish) location on the edge of Potrero Hill hosts many mid- to high-profile DJ events, from house music love-ups to multi-crew hip-hop throwdowns and even the occasional roller disco. 119 Utah, 762-0151, mighty119.com.

Monarch: The people behind the Om Records music label, Black Pancakes vinyl emporium, and other local culture outlets have taken over this two-level nightclub along the Sixth Street corridor just south of Market. Expect a lot of house music to fill the vaguely steampunky space, decorated like a fancy, retro-futuristic Victorian parlor where brass horns sprout cephalopod chandeliers and pipes are bent into privacy screens. 101 Sixth St., 284-9774, monarchsf.com.


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, punk, metal, indie, and underground acts delivering intimate shows in the main room for a low cover. The back patio is great on warm afternoons and evenings, too. 1600 17th St., theeparkside.com.

Powerhouse: Having club nights with names like “Nipple Play” (nipple fetish night), “Underwear” (panty fetish night), and “Wrasslin'” (wrestling fetish night where grown men sport high school wrestling outfits and try pinning each other to a mat), it's safe to say that this isn't the place you want to take Mom and Dad when they come to town. It is, however, the place to go if you're looking for a daddy and a dirty time. DJs spin a mix of house and techno every night, and the back room/dancefloor, rife with leering men lurking in the shadows, is appropriately dark. 1347 Folsom, 552-8689, powerhouse-sf.com.

Public Works: Tucked into an alley at the northern edge of the Mission District — look for a Banksy stencil and a bunch of other great street-art murals on the outside wall — Public Works is a multi-use space that hosts art shows, DJ dance events, live music, and more on its two floors. It's become one of the city's hippest hangouts in only a short period of time, attracting diverse crowds that include queer party fanatics, electro-house hipsters, exploratory foodies, gallery crawlers, and other San Franciscans looking for the latest in artsy underground entertainment. 161 Erie, 932-0955, publicsf.com.

The Riptide: With its roaring fireplace, wood-paneled walls, hearty drinks, and amazing free live music calendar, the Riptide is a cozy home away from home for many. DJs spin punk, ska, and metal on Wednesday through Friday nights, with folk, bluegrass, and Americana bands and players taking over Saturdays and Sundays. Homemade vittles on Friday evening, surf videos on the TV, and a friendly staff make this a perfect after-beach warm-up spot. 3639 Taraval, 759-7263, riptidesf.com.

The Stud: Although small and cramped when packed, the Stud rules over other gay clubs with some of the best local DJs, innovative club nights, wild drag queen performances, and overall atmosphere. This old SOMA standby eschews the flashy glitz of trendy new nightclubs, instead cultivating a comfortable, almost bordello-like environment with lots of warm wood surfaces and plenty of dark corners in which to canoodle with your latest date. 399 Ninth St., 863-6623, studsf.com.

The Uptown: So you're a new hipster in town. Or you've just decided that you want to have sex with a hipster. Where should you go? Try the Uptown, particularly on Wednesdays when beer is extra-cheap. You'll know you've arrived when you begin to feel vaguely uncomfortable and notice all the chained-up fixies, their owners puffing cigarettes outside and snubbing homeless people. Head inside, though, and the quirky, red-tinted innards of Uptown and its warm weirdness welcome you to stay a while. Maybe it's the cushy old booths, or the pool table that's slightly off. All we know is that seven PBRs later, you'll be playing Simpsons pinball against some guy with big sunglasses and a pet rat on his shoulder, wondering when your Steely Dan jukebox selection will come on. That is when you know you are home. 200 Capp, 861-8231.

Underground SF: This small, dark, and unpretentious Lower Haight spot attempts to inject a subversive element back into the nightclub scene — and, for the most part, it succeeds. The music runs the gamut, from vintage disco to drum 'n' bass to hip-hop to reggae, as does the crowd. A good place to escape from upscale and trendy nightclubbers. 424 Haight, 864-7386, facebook.com/undergroundsf.

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