Located next to the City Lights bookstore, the Vesuvio was one of the Beat poets' favorite watering holes. It all began when Neal Cassady (the real life "Dean Moriarty" from Jack Kerouac's classic novel "On the Road") stopped by the Vesuvio Cafe in 1955 and told his friends about it. From then on, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and co. became regular fixtures at the little North Beach bar. The cool thing about the Vesuvio is that it still attracts a fairly ecclectic crowd today so that visitors don't feel like they've walked into a tourist trap - when we were there, I noticed a group of women discussing a novel, a young man reading in a corner, and of course a few other Jack Kerouac enthusiasts from out of town. But you don't have to be a Beat poetry fan to enjoy this little place full of character - you only need to be in the mood for a good drink in a very special atmosphere!
Dress Code: Very casual
For those of you who are throwbacks to the beatnik era, you'll love this place - its history AND location.
The Vesuvio has been around since the early '50s, reknown as "the" Beat hangout. To this day it still attracts an off-color, artsy crowd. The ambience is cozy and eclectic, with small tables and hanging lamps and numerous framed photos, paintings, and other objets-de-art on the walls.
It's got two floors, with the second offering a nice balcony view overlooking the first floor as well as outside toward Jack Kerouac Alley. (You can't help but notice his mural-painted face looking back at you - try that after a few afternoon Campari's!)
The Vesuvio is known for having its night time personality, but I've only been there in the afternoons. It's a relaxing place to read (especially since it's right next to City Lights Bookstore), or catch up with a friend.
Dress Code: Are you kidding? Beat all the way, baby....
"This world-renowned San Francisco saloon located in North Beach just across from the infamous City Lights Bookstore, was first established in 1948 and remains an historical monument to jazz, poetry, art and the good life of the Beat Generation. Vesuvio attracts a diverse clientele: artists, chess players, cab drivers, seamen and business people, European visitors, off-duty exotic dancers and bon vivants from all walks of life."
the Vesuvio Cafe
Dress Code: uhmmm... not naked.
This old bar has some unique qualities such as a balcony with a great view of the bar and an atmosphere that encourages a great time out.
Dress Code: Smart Casual, make a bit of effort, you never know who you'll meet.
This is my idea of a perfect bar. Small enough to be comfy, but roomy enough to hold a funky crowd. Everyone is welcome now and they have been open 6 a.m. (yes, A.M.) until 2 a.m. every day of the year since 1948. The bartenders are friendly, they pull a fine pint, and the crowd is just as friendly. There is a small bar, a few tables, and a wall legnth seating area. Then there is a small upstairs area that looks down over the bar. You can even yell your order down to the bartender and they will bring your drinks to you.
Apparently Jack Kerouac once blew off an appointment with Henry Miller to spend the day here. I can see why.
Dress Code: come as you are.
When in San Francisco you should go down to the North Beach area and check out Vesuvio. It's a great bar with a cool atmosphere and friendly staff. Met lots of great people there (even a few Canadians!) and will definitely go back next time I'm in SF.
Vesuvio Caffe (picture courtesy of: www.vesuvio.com)
A Beatnik bar with lots of personality! This is where Jack Karouac and other Beat poets used to frequent!! Order a couple of beers from what they have on tap or a strong mixed drink and you're ready to have a great evening! There is a small upstairs area with tables and chairs. A very artsy place (It was a Beat poets' hangout after all).
Dress Code: Anything
Vesuvio was first opened in 1948 and has had an interesting history since then. It was a hangout for Jack Kerouac and other Beat writers and has stayed the course for over 50 years as a drinking destination for people from all walks of life. It's the best example of a chill bar and a place that never gets wild just for the hell of it. People are here to relax, talk, and think.
To me Vesuvio is an archtypical San Francisco Nightlife spot.
First, it is located on Columbus Avenue, a street lined with bars and restaurants; which always been one of SF's strengths as a tourist destination: in which you can spend the whole night walking around on foot.
Secondly, the crowd. It is a mix of visitors/tourists and locals. Also something that is commonplace in SF; always having a good number of tourists.
Thirdly, the 'feel' inside the bar, with this I mean the decoration which is artsy and historical.
I went here on Monday night with two friends, one of whom lives in SF and had a great time. The only downside was they only seem to have one waitress for the tables. Not a problem for us since we stayed at the bar but I kept seeing people going to the bar to get more drinks.