I will be making a trip to Las Vegas this weekend for a friend’s bachelor party. I thought I would put it to you, the readers, are there any excellent bars that I should visit while I’m there?
Shotwell’s is a fantastic example of why I enjoy San Francisco so much. Established in 1891 it has a rich history, beginning more as a combination bar and local grocery store. Now after some well deserved polish, the bar continues as a bustling local pub offering only beer and wine, but what a selection! Shotwell’s should be enjoyed by anyone who truly enjoys beer in its many flavors, varieties, and provenances. Indeed, all beer aficianados should try this place, as my friend Mike puts it “this is a place where people might slowly enjoy their beer like wine, but it’s not stuffy either.” They have one of the best beer menus in the entire city and Dave or Tom, the owners and operators, are happy to take some time to chat with you about your brew or your vino.
Shotwell’s can go from slow and quiet to bustling and nearly crowded in only 20 minutes. Almost everyone here is a neighborhood local from the Mission, indeed my friend who turned me on to the place lives only a couple blocks down the namesake street. Come in alone and chat with the Dave, Tom, or one of the regulars. Or bring a couple friends and enjoy a game of pool, or one of their two pinball machines. Better yet, bring a little Mexican food with you and have dinner at the bar! Mostly come for the beer and the charm, such as the very old wooden back-bar from the turn of the 20th Century. Tom and Dave are always happy to explain the huge piece’s history.
Price $$ – Average to low, there’s no way to make uncommon, imported beers cheap!
Category: Local watering hole, also a Beer Destination
Rating: 5/5 stars – Shotwell’s is a 5 star bar if you are a true beer enthusiast and worth a specific trip! It’s a perfect place for suds-loving San Franciscans.
Christine at the Fishbowl is a terrific bartender and a Margarita Master, hers being the first I’ve had better than Tommy’s Mexican in the Richmond! I highly recommend going on Tequila Tuesday, as the small bar isn’t overcrowded. With specials every night, a good jukebox, some flat-screen TV’s around the place, and a nice menu of food, this bar will make just about everyone happy. Fishbowl often hosts celebrity bartenders for private parties and fundraisers on Thursdays, making it an ideal place for any special events.
The crowd is primarily NOPA and Lower PacHeights locals, but there are plenty of us who travel from further afield to enjoy the lively bar. The new owners have added the flatscreen TV’s to add a sporty feel to the place, and will likely be opening early to show World Cup soccer. According to Christine, with beautiful weather they fire up the BBQ out back which I hope to try myself soon. One of my favorite attractions here is the Big Buck Hunter video game, and they even have Big Buck Hunter Tournaments every so often!
Rarely do I find, even in San Francisco, a neighborhood bar with community conscience and great offerings in tons of tasty cocktails and delicious food. I highly recommend this as a 4.5 star bar, definitely worth the trouble to make the trip out for the night.
Price: $$ – Average SF prices but great daily specials! $5 Margaritas on Tequila Tuesday!
Category: Local Sports Bar and Hangout
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars – You’ve got to check this place out, it’s a fun and easy place to enjoy food, drink, and friends!
Doors open at 5pm ($5 suggested donation) with Happy Hour until 7, complimentary food from 7-8pm and a Silent Art/Jewelry auction plus a raffle. Up for grabs are works by numerous artists including Bay Area noteworthies like Nate Valensky, Ian Ross, and Sandra Garcia.
DJ’s include Lionize, Daneekah, Beatnok, Dj Centipede, Stepwise, Green B, and Adam 12
Mojito is located at 1337 Grant St. in San Francisco See you there!
Farmer Brown’s is a bit upscale for its neighborhood. On the corner of Mason and Market, it borders the Tenderloin, the touristy Union Square area, and Market shops. According to Diego, one of the excellent bartenders here, the proximity to Union Square hotels brings a fair amount of tourists and out-of-towners. However, there are always plenty of local regulars coming in for the delicious food, relaxed atmosphere, and special cocktails. Diego recommends this bar even when you’re alone for great people watching, since they get everyone including “lawyers, bankers, pimps, and scallywags.”
Farmer Brown’s is a restaurant and bar, offering a California gourmet twist on southern soul food. The menu is available at the bar, but as a bar snack I highly recommend the sweet potato fries and aioli. The custom cocktail list changes seasonally and always has popular and delicious selections, like the Northstar Quencher. This fun and lively bar also makes its own ginger beer, though un-carbonated, for any fans of the Moscow Mule or the Dark and Stormy! The variety of people makes Farmer Brown’s a lively place but weekends are most popular. They host live DJ’s Thursday through Saturday evenings, but the all-you-can-eat brunch buffet with live Jazz Saturday and Sunday from 11-2pm is worth a trip. The fried chicken is amazing, and there’s a mimosa option of course! Arrive by 10am before the Jazz to save a few dollars on brunch ($15 instead of $16.50).
While the food is excellent and worth a trip, the cocktails and drink specials are well above average too. Happy hour is priced well with $7 specialty cocktails and $4 pints of beer. Also one of my favorite aspects of the bar offerings is their $7 quart glasses! Try the Scrimshaw from the tap, I recommend it. Also they serve a Farmer’s Special, consisting of a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of Jim Bean for only $5 – great for quantity in the down economy.
Price: $$ – Average, but there are deals to be had
Category: Local Hot Spot – every crowd comes here, not a boring place
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars – This is a fun, great bar and restaurant to try, but if you like Jazz and brunch deals the weekend is worth a special trip!
This is a true dive bar. Old thin red carpet and a smoky, chipped paint ambiance are the first details that come to mind. But a good jukebox and steady crowd of mostly young and middle-aged locals from the neighborhood making it a eclectic and boisterous little spot most nights. You do run the risk of seeing Russian Hill folks from the Tunnel Top down the block which isn’t so bad. Also a few good sized flat screen TV’s usually have a sports game on but the bartenders like Deedee will be happy to change the channel for you, since it’s not really a sports bar.
Speaking of bartenders, they’re all good looking women here adding to the attraction for some. One Highlight setting Chelsea Place apart from other bars is a free buffet dinner on some nights, usually the nights before Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, and on the May evening of the bars anniversary (52 this year). The prices are pretty standard, except that a bottle of Sierra Nevada and a pint of Anchor Steam both cost $4.50. The chatty and enjoyable crowd and bartenders make this a fun stop on the bar hopping circuit, or a great easygoing bar to sit and enjoy a pint and a shot with a pal or two. Also make sure to take a minute to enjoy the unusual original artwork on the wall too.
Price: $$ – Definitely Average
Category: Dive Bar, most definitely
Rating: 3.5/5 stars – While at first glance this is a small and dingy dive bar, it’s a great one. I would definitely recommend Chelsea Place to anyone who enjoys dives, but if that’s not your thing then you’ll definitely hate it! Also, they accept Visa, MasterCard, and Cash.