Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That's why each week Stuart Schuffman will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, giving you the lowdown on how and where to do your weeknight right. From the most creative cocktails to the best happy hours, Stuart's taking you along on his weeknight adventures into the heart of the City's nightlife. So, who wants a drink?
The Fillmore District has changed. When I first started hanging out in San Francisco The ‘Mo was my home base. It was probably around 2001 and my cousin Becky (of Keeping Your Balance fame) was living in the Fillmore Center. My friends and I would come up from Santa Cruz for the weekend and crash on her floor. This was before there was Yoshi’s, before there was 1300, before there was Sheba Piano Lounge. A lot has changed since then.
I mean the corner boys are still holding down the corner, and you still hear guns pop off some nights, but in the past decade The Fillmore District has gone from a place where you couldn’t even get a cab at night (none would drive though) to a neighborhood that can support a lovely wine bar like Fat Angel.
A few Thursdays ago I met my friend Molli for a drink. She’d raved about Fat Angel, so I figured we should go there for me to check it out. I arrived early as always, giving me a chance to sit back and take the place in. Looking around the small, low lit bar, I saw couples on dates staring into each other’s eyes, a girl and her gay BFF drinking beer and talking shit about someone, and a table of girls talking about whatever the hell it is that tables full of girls talk about. This was San Francisco - the crowd was diverse, people had money, and there was plenty of drinking going on. I sat there admiring the chandelier, the pipe organ parts that made up the back of the bar, and the warm vibe that Fat Angel emanated. Then again, that might’ve just been the body heat that was steaming off people in the nearly full bar. Whatever it was, it made me thirsty.
The server arrived with some water and a “menu." I say menu in quotes because it was more like a pamphlet. There was one, maybe two pages of food stuffs, and few more with wine, and then like ten covering the (mostly Belgian) beers list. What caught my eye though was the fact that Fat Angel serves draft wine. I’d seen (and dare I say consumed) plenty of bags of wine before, but this was the first time I’d ever seen the potent grape stuff on tap. The menu claimed it was the “way of the wine-drinking future." I said “why the f*** not” and took a nip out of the flask of Jameson in my pocket.
By the time Molli arrived, I was sweating from the human powered sauna that Fat Angel had become, so we took a table outside, and ordered a couple Grenach/Syrah/Mourverde blends. They were on draft of course, and actually damn good. As we sat there beneath the heat lamps in the chilly San Francisco night, we talked about The Fillmore District, it’s past and it’s present. Fat Angel never would’ve existed in the Fillmore a decade ago. But I’m certainly glad it does now. Here’s to having wine on tap.
Stuart Schuffman has been called "an Underground legend" by the SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero" by the SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap" by Time Out New York. He is also the host for the IFC travel show Young, Broke & Beautiful. Follow him @BrokeAssStuart.