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weird art in bars

Weird Art in Bars: Royal Cuckoo

We're resurrecting an old series: Weird Art in Bars, in which we explore the wacky adornments on the walls of the city's favorite and under-the-radar watering holes.

If you live near the Royal Cuckoo, which sits right where Valencia and Mission Streets intersect, you know there's a giant Salvation Army just down the street. Put two and two together and you'll instantly realize that a ton of what lives on the burgundy walls at this neighborhood bar was found in that thrift store treasure trove. Owner Paul Miller has an awesome eye for kitsch. When he opened the Royal Cuckoo last December, he emptied out his apartment to fill every nook and cranny of the bar, and its art collection has only grown since.

Weird Art in Bars: 3300 Club in La Lengua

We're resurrecting an old series: Weird Art in Bars, in which we explore the wacky adornments on the walls of the city's favorite and under-the-radar watering holes.

Owned by the Keane family for more than 50 years, the sunny corner bar 3300 Club is a complete diamond in the rough in La Lengua. Populated by devoted regulars and rabid sports fans, this watering hole is a no-frills home away from home for many.

Weird Art in Bars: Bigfoot Lodge

Taxidermy takes a turn for the entertaining at Bigfoot Lodge, beloved den of flaming s’mores and other concoctions that might make you wish for an early death the next morning. But the stuffed trophies adorning the walls aren’t the expected big game moose or buffalo - i.e., the hunter’s equivalent of a muscle car. The mounted raccoon heads and what looks suspiciously like a sloth dangling from a branch might more accurately represent a hybrid, stating that Bigfoot Lodge is perfectly happy with its penis size, thank you.

Weird Art in Bars: Molotov

Decorated in large part by the random stickers so highly favored by bars in the lower Haight, Molotov distinguishes itself by also featuring pinup girls, black and white portraits, and men in straw cowboy hats tipping slowly to the left. Also, $3 whisky sours at happy hour. So you can afford to get really smashed no matter what the economy’s doing. Which might explain all the drunk dudes playing the Lord of the Rings pin ball machine.

Weird Art in Bars: Specs

Pass up the bar as you walk into Specs - a living ode to San Francisco’s beatnik history - and you’ll find yourself gazing into the rabid maw of a taxidermy weasel fighting a stuffed snake. Arrive on the right day and you’ll see a grizzled Chinese man sitting in the corner painting, his thin gray goatee dragging in his oils. If you sat down next to him, you’d find yourself staring into the spectacles of King Nut, a parody of the original mummified golden pharaoh.


Weird Art in Bars: Cha Cha Cha

Cha Cha Cha claims the best sauteed mushrooms known to fungi-kind (the hostess said she ate them every day for four months) and serves them (smelling delightfully of garlic and wine) in a decor that smashes Catholic idolatry with the essence of Carmen Miranda and a splash of luau.


Weird Art in Bars: Smuggler’s Cove

If you're reading this, you’re likely well aware that Smuggler’s Cove has the best rum in town. (Which may or may not mean you research local watering holes with alarming regularity.) What you might not know is that there’s nothing more bad ass than taking a deceased - and, we assume, appropriately gutted - blowfish from its salty sea home and sticking a colored light bulb up its butt.

Weird Art in Bars: Gold Dust Lounge

It’s not every day you find the business end of a pants-less cherub hovering over your gin and tonic. But if this is an experience you simply must add to your bar repertoire (really, you must), head to Gold Dust Lounge. Founded in 1933, this San Francisco institution seems to have handily avoided changing anything since. It still boasts the decor of a gold rush-era bordello, complete with worn red velvet, chipped gilt, and cheap booze.

Weird Art in Bars: Noc Noc

A cross between a Neanderthal’s cave and Aladdin’s lamp, Noc Noc is a cozy cavern with a Gypsy color scheme and plenty of intriguing things to carefully inspect, should your date be late or nonexistent.

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