San Francisco has plenty of ultra-hip parents these days, and with the encroachment of rock shows and art events for the younger set, a new locale is emerging as the Final Frontier of family fun: the local watering hole. Buoyed by recent memories of their salad days and recession-induced frustration at dropping a boatload of cash on a babysitter, parents are bringing their babies into locales that were once their meat markets. As with everything involving urban children these days, this has provoked some heated opinions, from parents defending their need for a post-baby social life to childfree advocates decrying the presence of breastfeeding at the bar.
Tosca Cafe, the most jaunty of the city’s gin joints, is also well-known as a destination for the celebrity set.
But last night in North Beach when Jeannette Etheredge celebrated the 90th anniversary of her beloved bar, the place was jammed with that most local of breed: San Franciscans.
Generations, in fact, gathered to raise a glass to this historic watering hole -- from cops, politicians, artists, ribald raconteurs to ballet dancers, theater folks, ink-stained wretches and the jet set.
We've spent a lot of time thinking about the dual nature of bars and restaurants in SF. Obviously, restaurants with great cocktail, wine, and beer programs abound in the city, but on a busy night, dedicated drinkers can usually forget about snagging a table to drink first and eat second-- with people waiting, most restaurants won't allow lingering, especially if food isn't a priority. On the flip side, it's easy to darken the door of a beloved bar all night, but when it comes time for some ballast, drinkers are usually sent out in search of that late-night slice or burrito. With that in mind, here's our list of a few places where barflies can both drink to their heart's content, with no restrictions on seating, and snag a bite without having to leave. Have a favorite we missed?
Reclaimed wood has been a staple of contemporary architecture and interior design for years, but the creative uses and interesting past lives of the medium still never cease to amaze us. Lately we've been noticing bars across the city getting into the act. Haight's Magnolia Pub and Brewery received a major renovation last year, and while we love the new menu and adore the gold leafing on the walls, it's the countertops and bars that really make us swoon. The rich, polished wood is as smooth as butter - we couldn't stop running our hands over it. Our helpful server informed us that the wood was reclaimed from an old Levi's factory, of all places.
Lately, I've found myself walking into bars I haven't visited for a while, and have been mortified to see the old school CD jukebox replaced by a neon monstrosity: the MP3 jukebox. At face value, the MP3 jukebox seems brilliant. And from a digital music nerd standpoint, it is. As media technology has evolved—vinyl to cassette to CD—so has the technology of the jukebox—vinyl to CD and now to digital. Its place in the world makes sense. The problem is that I am unable to reconcile my love of new technology's ease with my sentimental attachment to the old school mechanical jukebox.
Like all great parties, the BFD music festival had a raging after party at the uber hip club Mezzanine that featured live performances by hip-hop artist Busdriver, a special DJ set by the Faint and a performance by Brazilian dance group Cansei de Ser Sexy, also known as CSS.
Los Angeles band Moving Units played last Thursday at Café du Nord with The Deadly Syndrome and Test Your Reflex.
According to epitonic.com: "The Units should appeal to anyone who loves Gang of Four, A Certain Ratio, or The Pop Group, but don't think of their music as rote recitation of bygone styles; not only is the band tight as hell, but their tightly wound, minimal, paranoid take on punk feels fully appropriate for these nerve-racking times. What's more, you can dance to it."
According to the press release, Vessel comprises "4,500 square feet of subterranean space beneath Giorgio Armani and Niketown, and [is] neighbor to Campton Place Hotel. ... [It will] serve as the debut West Coast showcase for celebrated designer Stephane Dupoux, one of the world’s most sought-after designers in high-end hospitality (New York’s Buddha Bar and Cielo, South Beach’s Nikki Beach)." J. Bowman and LZ Love brought the house down at the boutique lounge's opening party.
photography by Stefanie Michejda
Last week I attended a fellow Capricorn’s birthday party at Martuni’s (4 Valencia St., 415-241-0205) and—this just in—discovered I loved Martuni’s. I guess it’s not that much of a shock: I love martinis, finding the letter ‘u’ in unexpected places and pretty much anything retro-kitsch so why it took me this long to get there in the first place is itself a bit of a mystery.