Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bar roundup, and why I'm really loyal to Make Out Room.

I'm unhappy with my work situation right now, so I don't want to talk work. Let's talk drinking.

I know I've mentioned bars here before, so it's probably no secret that I'm kind of a major critic of them. Here's what you've got to understand about me: I really, really like bar games. My social life is centered around them. I throw a mediocre game of darts and play a similarly mediocre game of pool, but god help me, I could do both of those things for hours. I love cards. I love stupid little bar machines. And also? I really, really love beer.

San Francisco and I are okay as far as bars go, mostly because I live in an area of town that's littered with them on every corner. We are not okay, because I don't make very much money, and my desire to pay more than five dollars for a beer is really low. That being said, here's a roundup of my experiences so far:

Doc's Clock. I like Doc's a lot. It's on Mission between 21st & 22nd, so it's close to me. Their happy hour lasts from 6-9. Midwest happy hours - and most east coast happy hours, for that matter - exist until 7 if you're lucky. I can get cheap drinks until 9?! Thanks, Doc's. I also like Doc's because I don't like to have to wait twenty minutes to get a drink. It gets busy, but it has a tendency to get busy way later than I arrive. The Roommate and I have a tendency to arrive at happy hour time and be done by 10 or so, which is just when Doc's is hitting its stride. They've got a fantastic shuffleboard table, and an assortment of board games that are all missing a few pieces, but work well if you're willing to adapt. (Our favorites: Trivial Pursuit where all of the pieces have at least one wedge stuck in them and Connect Four missing half of the pieces.) PBR is $2 until 9p, or all night on Sundays. And after that, the PBR price only goes up to $2.50, so you don't have to be too worried. Plus, the bartenders are awesome - I had to wait a ridiculously long time the other night because the bartender was involved in a conversation and didn't see me. Two Anchor Steams for free because he felt bad. Yes to all of it. Thanks, Doc's.

Kilowatt. Oh, Kilowatt, I moved further away from you and now you feel like you are SO FAR AWAY. (Five blocks. Suck it up.) Kilowatt is the best place to play pool in the Mission IF you want to rotate in and out of tables. And if you're not completely worthless as a pool player. Free pool on Sundays. Gets wicked crowded when football is on, unfortunately, so we occasionally end up across the street at Delirium until it clears out. Beer isn't particularly cheap, but isn't the end of the world. They've got a nice selection and a killer pale ale on tap. $3.25 for most beers during happy hour, which only lasts until 7. Also, they've got two dart boards. They're awful dart boards, but they exist - and they're on a raised platform so assholes aren't constantly tripping over you while you try to shoot. Plus one for Kilowatt. Unfortunately, there are two tables up there, and when there's nowhere else to sit, people default to sitting there - making it impossible to shoot. I can't handle Kilowatt when it's busy, but I love it on Saturday afternoons.

500 Club. Love me some 500 Club. I will fully admit, however, that I've only been there when they were showing the presidential debates, so I can't say anything about the clientele. What I can say is that their happy hour lasts until 7, all drafts are $2 on Tuesday during happy hour, and the bartenders are very good at what they do. I will be investigating this deal tonight while I rock today's crossword puzzle, because I am a nerd.

Delirium. I kind of don't feel like I belong at Delirium. Ever. Still, the beer is cheap, and on Sundays, they've got free food and free pool. The free food is seriously an event - they grill about seven pieces of meat at a time and set it on a table in the middle of the bar, and you better be watching for it, because seven pieces of meat go very quickly. Like, seconds. And it'll be about 30-45 minutes until the next run of meat comes up. But it is free, so it's hard to make a major case against them. A couple of TVs if you want to watch a game and don't want to battle the Kilowatt crowd.

The Phoenix. Love/hate relationship. $5 Hoegaarden. Grumble. But they have food, and occcasionally I just want to sit at a bar, watch World Series of Poker reruns with The Roommate, and down an order of fries with mayonnaise. This is the perfect location to do that, if you hit the timing right so you're not battling way too many people that are trying way too hard. I've got a soft spot in my heart for this place, but I just can't figure out why.

Inner Mission Beer Parlor. If I wasn't so poor, I would love the hell out of this bar. It looks super divey, and hell, maybe it is. What I know is that they have a simply incredible beer selection. Absolutely my favorite in the Mission. They're also $5-7 per draft, and that's a little much for me to pay for a real night of drinking. Getting $25-30 deep with tip for a night is a little more than I'd like to pay, and I feel a little bit like an asshole ordering $3 bottles of PBR in this place. They do have two pool tables, a decent amount of seating, and the pool tables aren't as competitive as Kilowatt. I'd like this place a lot if I could feel less guilty about dropping a lot of cash on beer. As it stands, I still like it a lot - I can just only go on nights I don't particularly feel like drinking. Too bad. Good beer = I want to keep drinking it.

Elbo Room. I probably have to say that I don't like Elbo, and that's too bad, because I kind of do. Decent beer selection. But oh, god, it's so dark. SO dark. Your eyes have to adjust something fierce. I know. It's a bar. But if you've never been there, you cannot understand how damn dark the place is. I don't like bright, shiny bars, but this is ridiculous. They have pinball machines in the back. I understand they have an upstairs, but I've never been there. I like sitting at the bar for a beer or two occasionally. Also, they start to get packed pretty early, and then it's obnoxious. They also claim to have the longest happy hour in the city, 6-9p, which is a lie, because that title is held, in my experience, by my favorite of the Mission dives so far...

Make Out Room. I love this bar. I have a really ridiculous amount of reasons to love this bar. Also, please realize that my experience with this bar is mostly before 10, and does not involve shows, and those are the two things that they kind of specialize in. That may be why I have such a ridiculously high opinion of it. But allow me to paint you a word picture. In SAN FRANCISCO, they have $5 pitchers (!!!) of PBR until 10. Look, people, I know it's not great beer. But The Roommate and I can get two beers each for $5, and that is amazing. Their other drafts are cheap during happy hour too, and they have cider, which I can drink like water. They claim to have no cover charge Monday-Thursday. We turned up there on a random weeknight and they were charging a cover. When we talked nicely to the door guy and said we really just wanted a pitcher and didn't want to see the show, he let us slip in and just sit at the bar. (We weren't trying to be assholes - it was a comedy show, we paid absolutely no attention, and sat at the bar chatting instead.) I've never had a huge wait for a drink. I'm also usually there before it starts to get packed.

The most recent reason I love them? I got real, real messed up there last week, and I have a certain bartender to thank. We went to see the debates at 500 and had a couple of drinks, then ended up here a little later. (Post-sandwich.) We bought the first pitcher of beer, then made friends with a bartender who looked really bored. I asked him if he was doing okay, he said he was super tired, and I asked him to tell me about his day. After immediately insisting that I didn't really want to hear about his day, I reassured him that I actually did. We made friends quickly. Turns out he's moving soon. We told him that we both recently moved here and wanted to know what awesome things we should probably be doing. Our beer was nearly out, so he poured us another pitcher as he was talking. We're certainly not ones to refuse free beer, so we hung out for awhile longer. This incredibly nice bartender proceeded to introduce us to some friends and try to integrate us into the bar scene. A little later came the shots. 

People, I can't take shots. I just can't. But when a bartender pours three shots of tequila for him, you and your roommate, you suck it up and suck it down. And shockingly, for the first time in about four years, I managed to successfully keep a shot down. A couple drinks at 500, then two pitchers, then the tequila shot? It was all over for this girl. But I got to chat up a really great bartender all night, I became successfully reacquainted with hard liquor, and I did it for $5 because the really great bartender was buying us drinks. (We tipped him incredibly well on our way out because we were incredibly grateful for how our night turned out.)

Much, much love to Make Out Room. And much love to all of the mission bars. (Except the creepy one on Mission where we drank $4 Coronas and I got hit on by an incredibly lewd fellow who did not speak English, but spoke the international language of gross hand gestures. No love to that place again, ever.)


troymccluresf said...

The food at Delirium goes so fast because it's the only time the degenerates crawl out from under the table to feed. Seriously, the only people I talk to who actively like that place are Damaged.

burritojustice said...

Don't forget Latin American Club, nice margaritas.

Allan said...

I love the Make-Out Room too (try the Death & Taxes), but you missed the other four of my top five. Bender's! Pop's! The Attic! Amnesia!

burritojustice said...

Oh, and The Knockout... Death and Taxes is superb. They have a blog!

Allan, we really need a Mission Mission beer crawl.

burritojustice said...

Ugh, I suck at Blogger. Moonlight Brewing blog:


TK said...

Good list. Allan's got some other good ideas. I'll also suggest the Uptown and Bar Mission, two fun, relatively cheap dives.

The Knockout's tons o' fun too.

Allan said...

Yeah, how do beer crawls work though? Couple beers here, couple beers there, and I'm ready for a nap.

New to the Bay said...

Thanks, everybody, for your other suggestions! So many bars, so little time. (And my desire to look like a major alcoholic by trying a new one every night is, well... you know.)

Re: Delirium - the only thing I can remotely like about it is that I can actually get in on the pool table when Kilowatt is completely packed. This Sunday, people were actually sitting on the pool tables because there was nowhere else to sit. I can't imagine a random night where I'd be thinking of somewhere I really wanted to go and come up with them as my first choice.

Allan, for beer crawls - I think the better idea would be one beer here and one beer there. Rapid fire beer crawl. I'm with you. If I did a couple beers at each bar, I'd be sleepy and wanting to go home after the second bar too. I'm all for a Mission Mission crawl.

Allan said...

Crawl it is. The other good thing about Delirium is their Monday night DJ. Weird mix of punk and soul I think. Not that I'd ever be caught dead in there without a really good excuse.

troymccluresf said...

Might I suggest starting at Lucky 13, which is very close to El Castillito?

wendy said...

We actually just posted an article on the best bars in San Francisco. Any thoughts on the ones we mentioned? http://www.drinkunique.com/read/local-scene-best-bars-in-san-francisco