||Visiting San Francisco
Joined: Mar 20, 2006
|Posted: 6 days ago; 7:24 pm  Permalink|
Hey, Hamo, thanks for the nudge! I meant to post a little trip review; I guess late is better than never.
I do want to give a big Thank You to everyone who provided such great tips here. You helped make for an easy and very enjoyable trip. Cheers!
We had a short trip, arriving Friday afternoon and flying back out mid-day Monday. We had a car and fortunately one in our group has spent a lot of time up there and knows his way around well, making things easier.
We did end up staying at Coventry Inn and it worked out fine. Not luxurious, but it was clean and safe, no extra charge for parking, and the price was right. Our room faced the side street and traffic noise really wasn't a problem. There are food & drink options nearby and it was a short walk over for a view of the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz, Wave Organ, etc. I'd easily stay here again.
My 2 cents on the bars:
Pagan Idol - This was our first stop late Friday afternoon. Enjoyed the front room, though it was crowded & pretty loud (I think there was a company happy hour/meeting going on.) Drinks were good, staff were accommodating, & nice nautical decor. We headed into the back when it opened and also enjoyed that. The room felt a bit too open/warehousey to me in some areas, but I like that there are some different nooks & crannies (though some tables require reservations.) Drinks were good but not particularly memorable. The line at the bar got pretty deep but the wait times weren't too bad.
Smugglers Cove - Just great! Busy and loud during prime time with standing room only and potentially a wait in line, but still worth it. But even better when it's quiet. The drinks are top quality, staff friendly & knowledgeable, and the atmosphere really nice. I don't know what more is worth saying; we spent a bunch of hours there over a short few days. This is one of the ones.
Tonga Room - Glad I got to visit this classic. We arrived before opening after a quick visit with Tiki Bob and got a nice spot at a table in the lounge area. Love the room (how could you not?) Drinks weren't great but were actually better than expected. It's a shame they don't play appropriate music, but again we knew that'd be the case. Hung out for a while enjoying the room and then moved along. I'd make a repeat visit next time.
Saturday morning we hit Amoeba and walked around for a bit, then headed across the bridge.
Kona Club - we were the only customers mid-afternoon. Looks good. Unfortunately, that's about all. Music was bad, something in the gangster rap vein (to be fair it was early and we were the only customers, maybe the bartender just put on whatever he wanted.) Drink quality was also low (many are made with Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry, Bacardi.) I picked the Navy Grog since it sounded the most promising, but unfortunately it was hard to finish. My friends just opted for beer. If I were short on time and couldn't go everywhere, this is probably the one I'd skip. Except...
Right down the block is the Chapel of the Chimes. And that place is amazing! Sure, you're probably thinking "what kind of nutjob goes to a crematorium on Vacation?" But I highly recommend it! The original columbarium building is spectacular. I could spend hours wandering around here (and wouldn't mind having what's left of me tucked away in the Sanctuary of Contentment someday.) Would have spent longer exploring but I wanted to make a quick visit to Trader Vic's final resting place down the block before that closed.
For that, walk just a bit further into Mountain View Cemetary at the end of the road. When you pass through the gate, there's a church building on your left and a masusoeum building just ahead on the right side of the road. Go through the door that's facing you and you'll find the tomb of Victor & Helen Bergeron on the opposite wall (look kind of lower left. Official location: Garden Terrace, Column 357, Tier 3.) After paying respects there, we headed over to toast him with a Mai Tai at...
Trader Vic's Emeryville. It was really nice to finally visit this place in person. It was pretty much what I expected and not sure I can offer any new insight. Had a '44 Mai Tai, naturally, and loved walking around seeing all the decor - we got there early so the dining rooms were empty and we could easily wander around. It's strange to have bright sunlight in a place like this, but obviously they're going to take advantage of the view (I thought the interior looked better after it started to get dark out). We sat in the lounge and didn't eat this visit but I'd love to go back and have dinner & stay longer next time. We bought some of the mini Mai Tai glasses that I absolutely love (I broke one a few days ago, so a return trip is more urgent.)
Kon Tiki - I really liked this place. The decor was decent. Drinks were really good and the staff made us feel very welcome. We didn't eat here but it's nice that they have some food available. There was appropriate exotic music playing, and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere overall. Would have liked to stay here longer, too. The only negative memory of Kon Tiki was the extensive broken glass from previous break-ins littering the few blocks between our parking space & the bar.
Forbidden Island - Another fine spot. As others have said, this place has much more of neighborhood dive bar kind of atmosphere. Which is fine, but I wasn't crazy about the graffiti. Crowded and loud during our Saturday night visit, but we were lucky to get one of the nicely thatch-covered booths. Drinks were good as I recall, and they have some snacky food that did the trick.
(Then we spent an eternity in traffic trying to get back across the bridge. )
My friends wanted to go full tourist so we visited Fisherman's Wharf area on Sunday (not my thing, but I don't have to repeat it.) Stopped in at Luau Lounge at Player's Sports Bar pier 39 since we were there. Decor wasn't bad - I expected more Party City - and they had a couple really nice old Hawaii paintings/posters. Obviously there are lots of windows with the bay view and sports on TV, and you walk through a big loud arcade to get there. They had a surprisingly decent rum selection, but the mixed drinks weren't anything to seek out. Pro: the bartender squeezed fresh lime for the Mai Tai. Con: it tasted like that's all that was in it. Food was edible.
Rum & Sugar. Liked this place. Good "crafty" drinks. We were there early and had the place mostly to ourselves, so it was quiet, but they did set up football on a big screen. Staff here were great to us - we mistakenly arrived before they opened but they let us in and served us anyway.
Unfortunately ran out of time for Trad'r Sams, Whitechapel, and other spots, but will be happy to make another trip. It really wasn't much more time consuming than going to Vegas for us, so am hoping to head back for another visit before too long.
Thanks again to all for the advice!
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Aug 22, 2016
From: Colorado (via Iowa)
|Posted: 5 days ago; 10:47 pm  Permalink|
Cool. Thanks for reporting back. Your Saturday sounds almost exactly like my plan for the first day of my trip at the end of November/beginning of December.
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Jul 17, 2014
|Posted: 2 days ago; 10:50 am  Permalink|
Thanks for the trip report. Funny, after our trip I felt like I accomplished what I set out to do and didn't need a return visit to SF for a long while but lately I've been craving it again. Especially now that a few new spots have popped up.
Joined: Mar 20, 2006
|Posted: Yesterday; 1:54 pm  Permalink|
Thanks, guys. I didn't have any new insight, but glad it was somewhat helpful.
More places just keep coming! Will probably have to plan a longer trip next time.