The Tenderloin gets a bad rap. Sure, there are often people stumbling through the streets. The sidewalks aren't always terribly sanitary. But the eclectic downtown neighborhood also has many great bars, a glut of late night pizza, and colorful crowds to go with it all. Some of the better jukeboxes in the area have gone digital (Whiskey Thieves, Edinburgh Castle), but a handful of the original jukes remain, hiding out like precious relics in the dim corners of certain dives:
1. You can pretty much guarantee that any night you drop in to Hemlock Tavern, you're going to hear good music. Not only because the refurbished and spacious bar hosts superb local and touring bands every week, but also because the jukebox, which boasts both local and touring bands, perfectly reflects the clientele. On any given page flip, the juke has a healthy smattering of musicians young and old, loud and louder. The centerfold page alone features discs by local garage rockers Thee Oh Sees and the Fresh & Onlys alongside Bikini Kill's singles compilation (a personal favorite), and a disc from revered '70s/'80s punks Bad Brains.
The jukebox compliments the usual Hemlock Tavern crowd (young, hipsterish, party-inclined), there's good variety — and here's the kicker: it's free. As long as there's not a DJ spinning, you can push-button songs on the Hemlock's excellent jukebox to your heart's content.
Juke rating: 5 drinks