Which Mission Bar Has the Best Jukebox? We Go on the Hunt for Good Tunes

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.


The divide among Mission dwellers is strong. There are the older families that have lived in the area for generations, then the hip twenty- and thirty-somethings who moved in more recently.

The latter half are the ones who can often be found crawling from bar to bar, dance party to live show. And in the haunts of this colorful crowd comes a variety of music choices — though not one quite as diverse as one might assume. There are definitely standards on all the old music boxes of Mission bars, but each has its own musical twist. Let's explore this large and mythic San Francisco neighborhood:

1. Delirium is a dive bar that also seems to divide people — either you love it, or you think it's the most hipster-swarmed joint in the neighborhood. I've heard both views from many people, and am still on the fence. Whatever your take on the crowd and décor (attractive, dirty) the jukebox is definitely in tune (ha) with the bar. It's hip, real hip: Black Lips, Turbonegro, the Bronx. Along with the newer noisy rock bands, there are also a few standby forever-hip records — Faith No More, Bauhaus — along with some regrettable, no longer cool CDs — The Hives, Hot Hot Heat. There's definitely enough interesting music to keep a drinker entertained for part of the night, but not enough variety of sounds to make it your last stop.

Juke rating: Three drinks.

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