Archive for the ‘Best Bars’ Category

Bow Bow – Edelweiss in Tagalog

It’s come to my attention that we don’t give enough attention to our local great bars.


That’s from my birthday party last year at BOW BOW, a karaoke bar on Grant at Broadway. One of my favorite moments was when Candy kicked out 10 privileged twenty-somethings (I’m sure they Yelped about it immediately). Why? Because one of the guys was ordering a gin and tonic about 10 different times and refusing it each time, loudly. Why you would get a mixed drink here, is beyond my knowledge. It would take you about 5 minutes to realize your best bet is sake, Chinese whiskey, or bottled beer. Friends I made that night- another set of local regulars, two guys who considered Candy their adoptive mom, and 3 very professional old guys singing standards.

The song book has listings in Cantonese, Tagalog and English, and you will be rated, not only by the score on the big screen, but by the three guys sitting in the back waiting for their turn. One of the bartenders is opera-quality – she’s the one singing Edelweiss in Cantonese.

Face The Music This Week: Jello, McLagan, Ruby Howl, etc

Lots of good music has been, and continues trickling through the local live music stream lately, and this week is no exception. Tonight, the amazing and amusing Dengue Fever is at The Castro Theater, while the Red Devil Lounge offers up a rare opportunity to see Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan’s latest band. The silver haired Brit who relocated to Austin TX, continues his legacy as a road warrior with a resume including too many greats & near greats to mention in one blog post. If you are familiar with the Faces and Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones or Billy Bragg…you have likely been exposed to his key tickling skills.

Macs Latest Release on his Maniac imprint Never Say Never

Mac's Latest Release on his Maniac imprint "Never Say Never"

His latest indie album is a solid & sincere effort from a veteran rocker, and of course he’ll likely spice up the live set with old faves, possibly dating back to his first chart topping days circa 1966 with Steve Marriott & Ronnie Lane in The Small Faces.

On Thursday night, while Bimbo’s in North Beach features Cake, meanwhile the deep down underground will possibly be sucked into the Vortex Room with Mr. Lucky and the Ramshackle Romeos. Others may be down on Harrison @ The Eagle Tavern. Bands playing there include former Nice Strong Arm bandleader Kevin Thompson’s new project “bun bun bun” and Sunward Spike. Ruby Howl hits the stage in the middle slot, a band featuring the talented alterna-chanteuse Laurie Hall who has played in numerous local combos over the past couple decades. Maybe you saw her with her mom in the Hall Flowers, or with her sis in Ovarian Trolley, or perhaps opening for the Pixies reunion at The Greek with Knife + Fork. She knows her craft and has a new band called Ruby Howl plying their trade with her husband Pat and a somewhat shy drummer who wishes to remain anonymous. More info on Ruby Howl at

Pat & Laurie

Pat & Laurie

Friday night , two soul music legends hit the stage on a double bill at the Independent, Booker T. Jones of the MG’s preceded by Detroit’s own Bettye LaVette, both of whom are promoting new albums on the Anti label, an Epitaph offshoot.

On Saturday night @ Annie’s Social Club, old school punkers will be in force catching Social Unrest, and Ribzy as well as the debut of Jello Biafra’s latest unnamed musical project. Before leaving on a reunion tour with his old band, Faith No More bassist Billy Gould will be backing Biafra alongside drummer Jon Weiss and guitar wizard Ralph Spight of Victim’s Family. If you get bored of the jurassic punks onstage at this Alcoholocaust, head to the backroom and be yer own D.I.Y rock star via the punk schlock karaoke set up…

SF: are we dog friendly or not?

One of the reasons I love San Francisco so much is because it is so dog-gone friendly. I am a huge fan of dogs, they have been apart of my family my whole life. I take my chihuahua Funston with me everywhere I can, and when I can’t, I conveniently pop him into a bag.

Funston is hangin out while we are in line for iPhones!

I first discovered that I could take dogs into some bars in SF when I visited one of my favorite establishments, Bender’s Bar & Grill on S Van Ness. A large mastiff Sweet Pea frequents the joint along with other regulars. I took Funston there to meet up with Ridley and they happily hung out as we downed our beer.


Funston and Ridley join us at Bender's Bar & Grill

Unfortunately some not so well behaved dogs and their even more misbehaved humans can ruin it for everyone. Just the other day I went to Four Barrel Coffee and noticed this sign:

Four Barrel Coffee

I spoke to barista Jeremy about the sign and he explained that a couple of people complained to the health department and now he can’t even bring his own very well behaved dog in. He lost one of those intrinsic job perks that keeps him motivated.

The Mission is a very walkable part of San Francisco and you see people with their pooches out all the time. Eric and Mark and doggie Karl came by Four Barrel expecting to go right in, but stopped when they saw the new sign. Eric had to wait outside while Mark got them coffee and Karl was left confused.

It seems pretty overboard to complain about people bringing their dogs into grab some coffee. The floor at Four Barrel is cement and the coffee and the donuts being served can’t be accessed by dogs. The only explanations I can think of are that some people are allergic and/or a dog got up in the face of a non-dog friendly patron.

Mark, Karl the dog, Eric

I’m not sure how to resolve this to everyone’s satisfaction. Clearly there are the dog lovers, and the not so much. So we don’t continue with the negative trend, I ask San Francisco dog owners to please keep your dog in check if you are going to take them into food establishments so the rest of us can enjoy this privilege. And for those of you that aren’t so dog friendly, have a heart. Nobody wants to see a sad dog!

Boxer outside Four Barrel

My hope is that we can try and be the friendliest dog city in the world and add more signs like this one at Sidewalk Juice:

Galleries: Artists Talk with Amy Franceschini and Wilson Diaz

If your interest was piqued by The Gatherers, the exhibition over at the YBCA (reviews: SF Gate, Shotgun Review), you might be interested in the Artists Talk tonight at Artists’ Television Access. Two of the artists in the show — Amy Franceschini and Wilson Diaz — will discuss their collaboration, The Movement of the Liberation of the Coca Plant. SF Weekly has posted a mention of the event too, with additional info about Franceschini. If this is the first time you’ve heard of the show, let me quote Brian Andrews at Shotgun (linked above): “The Gatherers investigates urban landscapes and food systems in this era of climate change and growing organic consciousness.”

Admission: $6; Address: 992 Valencia (at 21st St).

NB: If you, dear readers, are aware of a good link to a page about Diaz, please post it in the comments.

[Suggestion: enjoy the discussion, and then go drink something organic at Amnesia across the street and north a block. Tonight they feature Gaucho, a “gypsy jazz band.” (Think Django.)]


Books: Chipp Kidd at 111 Minna

[Image at left by Kuwata Jiro (video link); controversy provoked by the book is summarized here.]

Just a quick reminder about an unusual and exciting book event tonight that you might have missed in yesterday’s altogether too comprehensive books calendar: Chip Kidd, the world-famous book designer and author, is going to be at 111 Minna tonight at 6:00 for a special book reading and signing event hosted by Last Gasp, the publisher of Kidd’s new book, BAT-MANGA!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan.

Election Night Goings-On

Sure, you can follow the election at home, on TV or — for those households with no TV — obsessively reloading CNN and the New York Times until 4 in the morning. But it’s a lot more fun to get out of the house and watch the early returns with a big crowd of people, isn’t it? Thus:

The Yerba Buena Center, from 6:00 to 11:00 PM, will be the site of a
a huge non-partisan election night party, complete with free pizza after 8, a cash bar, big walls to scribble and draw on, and live music, DJs and dance performances along with big-screen TVs tuned to PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, “and everybody’s favorite, Fox News.” (They said it was non-partisan!) Check out the event page and humorous “press conference” here. Admission is free.

Over at Mezzanine, the San Francisco Obama campaign is having its official Counting-the-Chickens-As-They-Hatch party, and you can go too. Doors at 6:00. Admission is likewise free, but you should probably RSVP here. (Although I’m betting you can probably just wander in too, later on in the night.)

For those partisans out there, the Democratic Party will be here, and the Republican Party will be here.

Or you can go to any of these great events, too. To summarize: between Elixir, The Retox Lounge, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker’s, and Edinburgh Castle, you just can’t go wrong. And out in the Sunset at The Riptide, they’ll be playing the Daily Show election night special and offering their drinks at Depression-era prices. How appropriate!

Still undecided? Reload SFist in the morning and see what Brock hath wrought.

And wherever you end up — out on the town or just out on your couch — The Huffington Post has this interesting guide to watching Election Night Results. Don’t skip it — it’s worth reading!

Tonight: Vive le Rock Indie Showcase

Vive Le Rock IV

Vive Le Rock IV

Vive le Rock continues its run tonight at Mr. Smith’s (34 7th St) starting 8:00 PM, cover charge $7. The show will consist of music from the masterminds behind the series, Oakland’s own Gosta Berling, and the guest band will be The Sleepover Disaster from Fresno, an awesome group that has achieved a certain measure of recognition lately. The music is going to accompany a bunch of presumably funny, morbid films by Waylon Bacon, a local filmmaker who has shown at the San Francisco Underground Film Festival and The Fright Night Film Festival. Or maybe his films are going to accompany the music. Both statements are true. An event page with press release describing the series and tonight’s show in more detail is here on Yelp.

Film Tonight: Carson Mell’s Dispatches from Dimension X

Bobby Bird
[Image by Carson Mell via KQED.]

Tonight at Mezzanine (seemingly the only club I go to these days) is a live appearance by an animator and writer loved by Wholphin subscribers everywhere — or at least loved by this one — Carson Mell. His self-published illustrated novel Saguaro and several of his short films concern the life and adventures of washed-up country-rock legend Bobby Bird (pictured above). One of my favorite episodes in that saga is Chonto, which contains the amazing line, spoken by Bobby Bird: “Sometimes a man needs a dog. Of course, being a big shot, I decide I need a big shot dog. I need a monkey.” So he adopts one from a South American zoo; the story is surreal, hilarious, and touching all at once. Hopefully we’ll see it on the screen tonight.

As usual, doors at 7, screen at 7:30 or so; tix $12 (or $8 if reserved in advance by emailing with your request).

Galleries: Common Descent at 111 Minna

Common Descent
[Images above by the artists named below, respectively, from left to right. Montage by 111 Minna.]

The group show Common Descent, currently on view at 111 Minna, is set to close August 31st, so there’s only a short time left to check it out before it comes down for good. The four artists involved — Brett Amory, Seth Armstrong, Andrew Hem, and John Wentz (no website available) — have never shown at the gallery before, but each is an emerging talent with a strong body of work, and some really nice pieces in the show are still available, if you’re into collecting. All the artists but one are based in the Bay Area — but don’t let local pride put you off of Andrew Hem’s whimsically weird work, which I’m particularly fond of — all those distorted figures and faces set against such soothing pastels make for a viewing experience that’s simultaneously comforting and unsettling. Always a winning combination for me!

Plus, 111 Minna is a nice place to go for a drink after work, as Metblogger Anthony Riva pointed out here a few months ago.

[via Juxtapoz.]

SFFS: Mad for Manchester

Ian Curtis
[Ian Curtis, singer of Joy Division. Photo attribution unknown; I found it here.]

If you’re looking for something to do tonight and you’re into Joy Division, SF360 is running a program at one of our favorite clubs, Mezzanine, all about the late-70s rock group Joy Division. Remember Joy Division? Sure you do. After singer Ian Curtis committed suicide a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday, the group re-formed as New Order. If you don’t know either one … where have you been, anyway?

The program consists of two films and a musical interlude. The first film, which screens at 7:30, is a documentary about the band directed by Grant Gee, the same guy who did the Radiohead doc, Meeting People is Easy. The second film starts at 10:00; it’s a biopic about Ian Curtis, called Control. I’m not much for biopics, but I’ve heard good things about this one.

The musical interlude is going to be a Manchester-themed set spun by DJ Axelson.

Event page here; tix $12. Hope to see you there!

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