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?
As the cab pulled up to the curb in front of the Broken Record, the bar exploded in ecstatic cheers. Krista looked at me as we exited the vehicle and said, “Oh my god, I think we won.” This was election day 2008, and the results from California had just come in. Barack Obama had been elected the 44th President of the United States. We’d been hopping all over town, trying to find a viewing party to watch the election results, and after waiting in line at Mezzanine for far too long, we hailed a cab and headed out to the Broken Record. All of our friends were there anyways.
Walking into the bar the night of November 4th, the crowd was abuzz with whiskey and optimism. People were hugging the shit out of each other and buying rounds of drinks. I got a text from my mom, who was in the hospital, that said, “Yes We Did!” It was the same chant that was echoing through streets of San Francisco from Hunter’s Point to Pacific Heights. The text message brought me to tears.
For those who live in the Excelsior, the Broken Record is an anchor of awesome in a sea of not much else going on. For many, it is the only nightlife option out there. For those who don’t live in the Excelsior, the Broken Record is cool enough to inspire us to sail our little ships in its direction, even if that means a long, late night adventure on the high seas of San Francisco mass transit. Besides having great prices and a legendary whiskey collection of 300+ bottles (that includes whiskey on tap), the Record is equally famous for its kitchen. What other dive bar can you get lobster mac & cheese and duck confit potato skins? It’s so well regarded that Guy Fieri featured it on his show Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Even if Fieri is a total douchebag, at least he’s got good taste.
I’ve been a fan of the Broken Record since long before it was featured on the food network. Since it first opened it’s doors in 2007, I’ve been making the trek to visit it. From having it as a stop on one of my yearly pub crawls to simply going out there for a change of scenery, the Broken Record has always proven to be filled with a friendly clientele, great bartenders and a healthy amount of beer pong. I even had my 30th birthday at the Broken Record, which proved disastrous. There’s photo floating around out there of me slumped down in a chair next to a Christmas tree, passed out with my hat over my face. My only real recollection of the night was the flashing lights of the Disco Cab that ferried me home. Like any good bar, the Broken Record accepts you for who you are at your very best and at your very worst.
That night in November 2008, we were all at our very best. We were drunk not just on whiskey and beer, but on promise, on a new beginning, on what we thought was the kind of change some people wait their whole lives for. I kissed Krista and hugged my best friends, and we howled and screamed and danced in the streets, and I realized that there was no better place to be on that fateful Tuesday night than at the Broken Record. Maybe I’ll be there on election night this year too.
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.