Thirst-quenching, Gut-wrenching, Head-Spinning SF Bar Scene

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Stephanie Casey
Contributing Writer

Since the notoriously belligerent days of the Barbary Coast saloons, San Francisco has boasted a series of intoxicatingly fun drinking venues. From college bars on Geary, to watering holes in the Mission, and night clubs in the Marina, San Francisco has some drunk love for just about anyone. But before embarking on a night of slurred conversations and pitiable arrhythmic grinding, one must break down the idiosyncratic stereotypes that define the bars of this fine city.

Thirsty Thursday is the kick start to a nauseatingly sloppy weekend. Careful pickings led me to explore the Geary bar strip located in the Inner Richmond, where an abundance of fake ID yielding university students gather in overdressed attire to display their best assets while sipping on reasonably priced cocktails (a pint is just $6). Ireland’s 32 is the first stop for the mob of binge-drinking adolescents. Men crowd the bar stools shouting drink orders over the Top 40 insufferable songs while their female counterparts hoard the upstairs bathroom mirrors for makeup touch-ups. “Oh my god, this is my song!” exclaims a girl who seems just as bubbly as her Hefeweizen. She pushes her way to the DJ set before climbing onto a table where she struggles to dance in platform heels.

Down the street, Forever21 mini dresses adorn the sizeable dance floor at sports bar Abbey Tavern. Undercover cops looking to bust underage trespassers blend into the dimly lit establishment that invites dozens of sweaty bodies to mingle. Meanwhile, sloppy bros slosh around pitchers of beer that threaten to drench your clothes and laminate the floor’s already sticky surface.

If you’ve survived Thursday night’s disaster, I might then suggest a low key Friday evening in the hipster haven that is the Mission where my weekend bar crawl took me next.

On the corner of 19th and Mission, the stink of bacon-wrapped hot dogs and human urine permeates throughout the block. Drooping bodies prop themselves up against a graffiti- infested pink wall while tossed cigarette butts pile up on the curb. Regardless of the minimal breathing space, Beauty Bar seems to always attract a cult following. Regulars crowd the bar where a bartender dressed in pirate attire will fetch you cheap shots and PBR, while a dancer in vintage mod clothing takes center stage on the dance floor.

Just two doors down you can enjoy the best late night tater tots in town at Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, always happy to serve the messiest of Buffalo wings, sliders, and seasoned tots alongside your whiskey and coke. A few blocks over on 16th you can stumble into obscure live music and a serious game of pinball at Elbo Room, an overpopulated venue where Canadian tuxedos go to die.

At least one trip to the nearest hot dog stand is crucial to a successful Friday night bar crawl in the Mission. Don’t be afraid to pile on the onions and condiments, you’ll need the fuel to carry you over to Saturday evening in the Marina.

If you didn’t get enough of Greek life in college, look no further than Fillmore Street in the Marina for the sorority infestation of your nightmares. This is your chance to shamelessly consume your own weight in overpriced alcoholic beverages until you deem every face in the club attractive. Matrix Lounge is your place to see and be seen, and to weasel your way into some rich kid’s bottle service. Middle-aged men crowd the bar, ladies dressed head to toe in BCBG compete for the dance floor, and wealthy foreigners monopolize the seating. Social hierarchy at its finest.

Leave your dignity at the door before you step into KT’s across the street, where thirty somethings relive their college years in the most obscene manner imaginable. Outdated dance moves and impromptu public displays of affection transform the dance floor into cirque du sloppy. Be sure to stop by the women’s bathroom for some age-old drama and body critiques in front of a full length mirror. If you’re aiming for a complete social misfire, you’ll know where to go.

All snark aside, I have experienced my fair share of a good times at each of these drinking venues. Regardless of your neighborhood preferences and prejudices, there is nothing like a little liquid courage to bond the two ends of this city. 

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