NORTH BEACH, San Francisco
The Royal is a small, hip and popular spot on Grant Street in North Beach. There is a full bar that specializes and serves mixed drinks while a DJ or small Jazz band play in the back corner. A small dance area exists but this is more a lounge bar than a place to go and dance. Velvet covered cushions, swanky clothed locals and huge class windows that open out onto the street make this a popular spot for before or after dinner cocktails.
Dress Code: While there isn't an official dress code, most people at Royale dress with style in mind.
North Beach is San Francisco's Little Italy, and is a hugely popular restaurant and bar area. Here you will find cable cars, Lombard Street, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Washington Square, and the Italian Cathedral.
For nightlife you have microbreweries, Irish pubs, late night pizza shops, Grant Avenue's cafes, Broadway's strip clubs, and more. Restaurants are mostly Italian, but you can find good Indian, Chinese, Persian, Mediterranean, Mexican and more.
In 2004 the Project for Public Spaces named North Beach the third best neighborhood in North America behind only downtown Vancouver (Granville Island) and East Village in New York City. They also named Washington Square in North Beach as the 10th best square and plaza in the world!
A great time to visit North Beach is at night. The part of town stays alive well into the evening with sidewalk cafe service and night clubs serving up good business even on a rainy winter evening like the one I recently experienced. Restaurants bring out the patio space warmers to keep the outdoors warm, and canopies overhead keep heads dry. City Lights Bookstore stays open late. I like North Beach at night because of the lighting. There's the remaining porn neon billboards at one end, and in the middle the restaurants and bars provide their own atmospheric lighting. Incidentally, just on the border between the North Beach and Chinatown districts is a tiny alleyway named for the famous American author, Jack Kerouac. This passageway used to be called Alder. It's also safe enough to walk through Chinatown after the businesses have closed down for the night, in my opinion.
Dress Code: Dress warm in winter or summer at night in SF. Casual clothes are OK, but a lot of people in the city like to dress up all the time.
Recently (June '03) we hit up this new little club located in the heart of North Beach for Kevin and Andrew's B-dayz.
Some cool house music spun, with a little mix of some hip-hop once in a while. This place has newly been remodeled to a pan-Asian red motif; comfortable environment with bench style seating around the dance floor. Small outside patio with in and outs but inside is a little touch to talk without yelling.
Dress Code: Moderate dress code. no sneakers. $10.00 cover and one of those places that close at 2am.
Every good nightlife area needs one: a late-night pizza joint with good greasy pizza by the slice. Even better? Golden Boy Pizza in North Beach has beer on tap so you can grab a bite to eat without losing your buzz.
Golden Boy is considered by many to be the city's best pizza. Their large, thin, Sicilian-style slices can only be purchased in house...no delivery! Late at night around 2 AM expect long lines of 20-30 people outside, despite the frequent presence of numerous seats inside at the bar and the counter in the back. A slice of pepperoni is around $3.50.
Their best feature is the graffiti-covered bathrooms. What a trashy mess... come drunk and it won't be as disgusting!
Open weekdays until 11pm and Fri/Sat until 1am.
I list these two bars together because they are just about across the street from one another and can be described in similar fashion. Both are one-room bars, with small dance floors and always have someone spinning. Some nights its breaks, others house, sometimes some funky stuff, and Rosewood has Hip-hop on the regular. It is a little bit dressier in the Rosewood, but not by much. Covers usually range from free to $10, and usually the bouncers will let you sneak a peak, to see if it is your scene. Usually a very unpretentious crowd.
They are conveniently located within a 2 minute walk from inner North Beach, Close to Chinatown. And these close at 2am.
Dress Code: intelligent.
Tosca is an inviting bar in the North Beach Neighborhood that has become a San Francisco institution. The pub is welcoming with friendly bar tenders. Its old wooden bar is the centerpiece of a decor that makes visitors feel as though they stepped back in time a few decades to another era. Tosca offers a combination of old San Francisco charm and inviting ambiance that pleases both tourists and locals alike. It is a great place to stop by for a drink and conversation.
Be sure to order one of the specials. These are hot chocolate and brandy concoctions that are semi made and lined up on the bar ready to be completed as they are ordered. The specials can hit the spot on a cold San Francisco summer night.
The Basque Hotel (it's a bar) is a great place to have a drink. Usually has a crowd on the weekends, but not jam-packed very often. Go early and anyone can enjoy a great old space with modern refinements. I like this place because it's just a few steps off the busy Broadway corridor, but has the feel of stepping off the beaten path and into a modern speakeasy. Later in the evening the crowd seems to be ages 25-50. Not even sure if there is a hotel - I think not. Relaxed vibe here. Hit Tosca, Vesuvio's and the SF Brewing Co. all surrounding the same block. A great night out.
Dress Code: Dress up or down - there's always a mix
Tosca will make you feel like you're in a scene from a movie. Great, soft lighting and bartenders in classic form. Step outside and you're looking at a postcard. The Coppola Building and the Transamerica Pyramid are right there to great you. Crowd could be 30ish hipsters to 70ish hipsters, locals to local celebs. Few finer places in town for a true nightcap.
Hit the Basque Hotel, Vesuvio's and the SF Brewing Co. while you're in the 'hood.
Dress Code: No dress code, very relaxed. But the sort of place to enjoy wearing that sporty hat or that slightly sparkely purse.
San Francisco Brewing Company (SFBC) has tastey brews in a vintage setting on the border of North Beach and Chinatown. Beautiful mahogany bar, stained glass windows, tile floor and belt-driven fan give this spot a classic Barbary Coast feel. Enjoy an ale outside if it's not too chilly in the shadow of the Transamerica Pyramid.
Happy hour! Glasses of beer are $1 and pints $2 (every day, 4pm-6pm and 12am-1am).
Dress Code: Casual
The club has been revamped to accomodate more patrons in a comfortable and intimate setting. The service and staff were in my opinion, all three nights friendly, accomodating and yet professional. The hostess for all three nights, sorry I don't remember there names were wonderful. We were lucky enough to have front row seats two nights and a second row seat on a third night. Although in that intimate setting all the seats are good.
When you purchase your tix you are given a time to be in line which is done to stagger the patrons and thus the line will go much faster. As far as seating if you want a table in front, just ask the hostess. We found everyone to pretty much be able to choose what table they liked. The lines go very smoothly and efficiently. And, contrary to popular belief friends of the musicians are not given preferencial treatment. Pearl's treats everyone the same.
They now accept credit cards which is a big plus. You can order anything from water, to juice to wine, champagne etc... They have a full bar. They also provide free, a wild mushroom risotto in the bar area for a little bite before the shows.
Their policies have also been redone which is good. It used to be chaos there years ago. Now it's smooth sailing and just a pleasure to enjoy a show there.
Check em out. It's family owned and operated by Kim Nalley, the jazz and blues singer.
Dress Code: No dress code.
White tablecloths, low lighting, barely a whisper of conversation and comfortable, not cramped, seating permeate much of the space. The wall art, like the music, is contemporary, juxtaposed with Moroccan-styled archways and a brick-colored interior. During sets, the staff slip quietly through the crowd serving rounds of martinis and gimlets.
This club is dedicated to jazz, with a rotating cast of performers playing styles ranging from bebop to Latin jazz. An equally diverse crowd fills this place on most nights: well-dressed cats, hot mamas, young intellectual couples, brooding professor types and hip-hop hipsters. All 100 seats have a clear view of the stage and the focus is on the performers. There's a small cover fee, but it's worth every penny.
Bix is a great spot for drinks. It is an old Supper Club located halfway down a small alley. It attracts the moneyd 30-something's crowd. The decor is fantastic with a soaring ceiling and original artwork by Mark Stock. (The Butler's in Love series)
The food is good... but with so many amazing restaurants in the city...I recommend this place for drinks. Also because it can get a bit loud when the piano starts competing with a room full people. There is always champagne on ice at the bar... and the bartenders have been there forever. Ask Bradley to suprise you with something.
Parking in this area is next to impossible on weekends. Valet at Bix and walk to the entire North Beach area for a night out.
Dress Code: Dress to impress.
A French/mediterranean restaurant is on street level and on the level below, a jazz bar! It's dark and loungy, but compared to the restaurant part above, you would have never guess such a place existed below!
North beach is always lively when the sun goes down. Whether you're looking for a nice dinner, a quiet drink, dancing or all of the above. North beach has it all. Just forget about parking though...not gonna happen.
A lot of fun, friendly people and really hospitable establishments.
Dress Code: Anything goes with these fine folks. With the exception of some dress code enforced restaurants i'm sure.