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?
I’ve been writing this column for over a year now, and haven’t written up a single place in the Marina. Truth be told, it’s not my favorite part of San Francisco so I rarely go there, but I realized recently that I’d been remiss in my duties to you, faithful Weeknighter readers. Last night, I decided to rectify that and headed down to the part of town where everyone is a little blonder and jogs a lot more.
I was supposed to eventually meet up with my friends Doug and Dylan at The Tipsy Pig's four-year anniversary thingy, but seeing as I arrived in the Marina a bit early, I had time to kill. I wandered around for awhile until I saw that the old La Barca marquee read “Stock in Trade opens Tuesday February 12th.” Realizing that it was indeed the 12th, I decided to pop in.
The old La Barca was a funky place with a cantina motif, mediocre food, and a storied 50-year history that you could immediately feel upon entering. Walking through the door last night, I wondered if it would feel the same way. There were a few chandeliers that looked like they were held over from the La Barca days, but otherwise the space looked entirely different. One thing I hadn’t noticed before was how huge the space is. All the lead-up press had touted the fact that there was an indoor bocce ball court at Stock in Trade, and there is, but the space is so big that they could’ve (and maybe should’ve) added another court just for good measure. Lovely, long communal tables are interspersed with two-tops throughout the restaurant, while the humongous square bar dominates the front of the space. I mean, the bar is really fucking huge! The interior does a great job with the cavernous space, but Stock in Trade is just so big that it feels like there should be other decorative touches to make it feel homier. But then again, maybe it’s just that La Barca was such a clusterfuck of things to look at that the lack of clusterfuck was more jarring.
Looking around the room, the crowd was less full of Marina stereotypes than expected. I saw a few older guys who looked like they may have followed The Dead at some point, and I even saw a fellow hipster. He and I refused to make eye contact, though; it was almost like being seen in the Marina was the equivalent of running into someone you know in the Planned Parenthood waiting room.
I didn’t end up having any food at Stock in Trade, but the bacon poutine sounded amazing. As for a drink program, it was simple and straight forward. All in all, the place seemed like it had some legs and might really prosper. But for anyone who craves the weird, funky, lived-in feel that La Barca seemed to hum with, that vibe is gone. San Francisco is heading towards a completely different direction, and it’s taking Stock in Trade with it.