TGIF! As we are calling it an end to another work week and getting our plans together, I thought I would share a fun thing that my husband and I did on our recent Anniversary getaway to San Francisco. You could make this work on a trip to some place or even in your own hometown.
We have been to San Francisco many times and done the tourist attractions; i.e. biked the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, Alcatraz, ride the cable cars, Giants baseball game…….. So this trip we didn’t make any plans and decided we would see where the city takes us. On Saturday we woke up and lounged around our hotel room and once we got moving we decided to go check out China town, which was walking distance from our hotel. We strolled around looking in the shops and decided on a little place to have a quick bite to eat and tried dim sum. While we were eating we jumped on Yelp to try and find a sports bar, so we could watch the Preakness Horse Race and the place to find sports bars was the North Beach area of town, again within walking distance of where we were.
Off we went to the North Beach, but we were running short on time, so we decided to go into the first bar we came upon, so we wouldn’t miss the race. And the winner of the first bar went to Mr. Bing’s (201 Columbus Ave)! We liked it right away from the name, because my husband is told all the time he looks like Chandler Bing from Friend’s and we loved The Soprano’s and if you watched it you know about the Bada Bing. Luckily the bar wasn’t too busy and we got to chat with the bartender, Jake, who is actually the co-owner of the place. He just recently bought Mr. Bing’s and gave us the history of the bar and his vision for it taking it forward. Mr. Bing’s is a well known dive bar in the North Beach and was even featured on a show with Anthony Bourdain. After taking in the race, having a few beers and chatting with Jake we knew we wanted to see more of North Beach and better move on or we would have stayed there all day. So begins our bar exploration called, “Hey Bartender, where to next?”. We asked Jake for a recommendation on where our next stop should be and he told us to head up the street Vesuvio Café.
We headed up the street about a half a block to Veusivio Café (255 Columbus Ave), which is a historic bar that was founded in 1948 and frequented by celebrities during the Beat Movement. The Beat Movement began after World War II and those that followed this movement rejected standard narrative values, spiritual quests, rejection of materialism, experimentation of psychedelic drugs and sexual liberation and exploration. Very San Francisco! The history of this time is shown through the décor of this really funky bar. I was pleasantly surprised to see a bottle of Aperol behind the bar. My girlfriends and I had Aperol cocktails in Venice Beach on our recent L.A. trip and when we tried to recreate it at home it did not taste the same. So I asked the wonderful bartender, Joanne, if she could make me an Aperol Spritzer and not only did she make it, she showed me how she made it, so I can hopefully make it this summer for my friends. After enjoying our cocktails at this spot we said, “Hey Joanne, what bar should we go to next?” and she said go across the street into the alley way and there is a little bar called Specs.
We crossed the street and went into the alley way and found a hidden gem called Specs (12 Williams Place). It was a dark bar with a ton of museum-ish items everywhere! It is called “eye-candy for the drinking class”. There are posters, bumper stickers and pictures all over the walls and glass display cases with unusual pieces in them. But the BEST part about Specs is the wheel of cheese!!!!! They have a huge wheel of cheese with an old time cheese cutting board. You can request a small or large chunk of cheese and they serve it up to you in a plastic basket with saltine crackers. It doesn’t get much more dive bar than this and I LOVED it. After beer and cheese, we said “Hey Michael, what bar should we go to next?” and he told us to go to Gino and Carlo. Gino and Carlo was actually on my list of places to stop, because a friend in Vegas who used to live in North Beach recommended it.
We headed to Gino and Carlo (548 Green Street) and as we turned onto Green Street I fell in love with this little area. They had lights strung over head and we forgot we were even in San Francisco. Into Gino and Carlo we went, and were lucky to find two bar stools along the pretty long bar. Again I see a bottle of Aperol, so I ask the bartender, Danny, to make me an Aperol spritzer. He laughed and said that Aperol is turning into a new trendy drink. I seem to find these, remember my obsession years ago in trying to find Moscow Mules and now they are everywhere! At this point my phone was dying, and I was that annoying bar patron that asked the bartender to charge my phone, admittedly being that annoying patron when I asked. Danny gladly took my phone to the back office to be charged. Since we were waiting on the phone to charge back up we had two drinks here and then said “Hey Danny, what bar should we go to next?” and his recommendation was to go to Northstar.
Off we went to Northstar Café (1560 Powell St.). This bar was decorated with Christmas lights and tons of Bay Area sports flags and pennants. My favorite thing above the bar was the picture of President Obama raising his hand like he was toasting to promote the house shot The Obamarama. Of course I had to try one and for only $3 why not! One Obamarama shot later we asked “Hey Bartender, what bar should we go to next?” and we were given the recommendation of Chief Sullivan’s.
Onto Chief Sullivan’s (622 Green St.) we went. It is an Irish tavern that is long and skinny. When we first came in it was pretty dead, but things picked up when the theater, a few doors down, let out and the cast and crew came in to drink. This place had the giant Moscow Mule mugs!!!! The bartender, Rebecca, was kind enough to let me take a few pics with the giant Mule cups, but there was no way I could have one of those without a group of friends with me. I opted for a smaller size Mule, the Irish Mule. Instead of vodka they used whiskey. As we were telling Rebecca about our Hey Bartender Pub Crawl and how we found their pub, our conversation inspired this blog post. Once I finished off the Irish Mule it was that time again, “Hey Rebecca, what bar should we go to next?” and she told us we had to keep the Irish pub going, so she told us to head to Maggie McGarry’s.
We swayed our way to Maggie McGarry’s (1353 Grant Ave.) and found a traditional Irish pub with different rooms and different things happening. We hung out in the room where the cover band was playing, enjoyed a few beers, some dancing and people watching. Then we knew it was time to call it a night. Since this pub didn’t serve food, we knew we had to find a late night food joint to get a bite to eat before we went to bed. Sorry for the lack of pictures here at Maggie McGarry’s, but as you can imaging by this stop I was a little tipsy and too busy Snapchatting my dancing and singing skills.
As we stumbled around the corner we ran right into Buster’s (366 Columbus Ave.), a cheesesteak joint! There was a line out the door and the wait was more than worth it! I have never been to Philly, but this was probably one of the best west coast cheesesteaks I have ever had.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you ever go to San Francisco you visit some of these places or start your own Hey Bartender, Where to Next pub crawl!
Have a great weekend!