It’s about that time again (for the first time). Time to heap a whole year’s worth of praise on to several lucky and talented establishments that did us the kind service of getting us drunk. Yes indeed, ‘tis the season for recognizing the best of the best, the places that don’t settle for second place, that realize life is a marathon not a sprint, and any other clichéd ‘successories’ slogans you can think of. Crack-a-lack-a!! Barrespondent Drew here to give out some FISTies!!
Like the Grammys, we’ll start off with the ‘dud’ awards like ‘Best Polka Recording’ and charge ahead to the big award of the night, the ‘Best Tejano recording’ award, if you will. But enough jibber-jabber, Let’s Do Dis!!
Best After Work Burger and Smoke: Zeitgeist. You would think a jam-packed gravel lot under a freeway filled with tattooed bikers would make for a slightly horrifying dining experience. Amazingly, this place not only serves one hell of a burger, but is an extremely friendly environment. It may be a little chilly at the moment, but as soon as spring rolls around, look for this place to start filling up in the early evenings with hungry Hell’s Angels looking for good grub.
Best Neighborhood Bar: The 3300 Club. The Outer Mission, a seemingly ‘forgotten’ neighborhood when compared to the crazy bridge-and-tunnel weekend cram fest that is the Inner Mission and SOMA, is a really convenient little getaway for anyone who doesn’t equate a good time with how hard it is to get the bartender’s attention. The 3300 is a nice, friendly, comfortable and easy place to hang out in all night.
Best Place To Watch Sports: The Kilowatt. A good rule of thumb when looking for a good sports bar is to avoid any place that calls itself a sports bar. Generally speaking, it’s usually a last ditch attempt by a desperate owner to fool tourists into thinking that they’re the only place in town where someone might be showing the ‘Cincinnati-Pittsburgh’ game. Truth is, there are a lot of ‘hipster’ bars all over the city that have satellite dishes and throngs of cheering drunks. At the Kilowatt, Lions and Jets games seem to get priority on the HD flatscreen, but there’s more than enough other TVs in the place to catch whatever game you’re interested in.
Best Dive Bar: The Uptown. As other bars trend up and down all around it, this place remains one of the best seedy little joints on earth. Disgustingly dirty but surprisingly comfortable couches await in the corner, one of the city’s best jukeboxes pumps out the tunes, and a good game of pool can be had with just about anyone there most nights. Your friends from Marin might find it a little scary, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you want.
The ‘Vibe’ Award For Best Environment: The Phone Booth. Dark, red and oh-so-cozy, this place immediately puts the world weary drunk at ease. That and enough space to move around in without ever feeling empty makes this place feel like the rec-room of your coolest friend. Killing an evening here isn’t a chore at all, in fact it’s the kind of place that surprises you when last call arrives and all your pre-evening plans of going to other places have totally been shot to hell.
And now that you’ve sat through the technical awards and five musical numbers choreographed by Debbie Allen, it’s time for the big one.
Best Bar Of The Year: The Tempest. Not yet reviewed as we just recently discovered it, this hideaway down the street from the Chronicle offices on Natoma between 5th and 6th is drunkard heaven. An excellent crowd, ridiculously cheap drink specials (like draft Pabst and a shot of Jim Beam for $4), and loads of local flavor make this our new favorite spot. You ain’t gonna impress anyone taking them here, but if you’re looking for a nice, dingy spot to knock back a few and don’t want to blow your student loan payment doing it, this is the place for you.
So there it is, another year in the books. Here’s hoping next year is as hard to recall as this one was.