On the Hunt for the Best Jukebox in S.F.'s Richmond District

The heyday of authentic jukeboxes is long over. With many bars installing those nasty touchscreen digital Internet boxes, the old school record-flipping kind of jukebox is a dying breed. And this is in the town that originated the concept of jukeboxes back in 1889. So what denotes a quality juke these days? It's subjective, but there are some key signifiers: diversity of the records and mood-setting capabilities. In this column we seek out and celebrate the remaining machines. We also measure their success with a one to five drinks scale, based on how long you'll want to linger and listen.

Thanks partly to the diversity of its residents, the Richmond District has a lot of great bars and restaurants. The neighborhood is a confluence of Russian bakeries, Chinese markets, and Irish pubs, and the songs available on the few scattered classic jukeboxes reflect this diverse blend.

1. O'Keeffe's Bar is an Irish bar that offers plenty of Irish music in its back-wall jukebox. The sweet Irish owner/bartender will serve you pear cider over ice as the Pogues come cranking out of the box. There are also CD comps like St. Patrick's Day Compilation and Kiss Me, I'm Irish. Stuffed in between those are sleeves of albums by the Wolfe Tones and a few festive Celtic records.

But it isn't all Irish music. The jukebox plays equal opportunity with good-for-the-bar 1990s bands like British duo Everything But the Girl, grunge rockers Alice in Chains and, happily, L.A. alterna-rockers Mazzy Star.

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