I tend to be enticed by bars that draw diverse crowds because you never know who you'll meet or what direction your night will go. The space at Bar Fluxus is eclectic art-funk and the bar staff is cool. I seem to find myself there on karaoke night more often than not but I would consider myself a karaoke voyeur. Whether you're looking to sing your hear out or just watch in the shadows, their karaoke night never fails to entertain.
Ginger's is the only gay bar in the Financial District. I prefer it to going to usual suspects in the Castro because, in addition to pouring a stiff drink, the team can also mix up a solid cocktail. The bar feels like a Shanghai opium den with pub-Americana. Expect service with a smile and a sharp tongue.
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Specs' Adler Museum CafeNorth Beach
I go to Specs' for the bar cheese. The space is maximalist with something new always catching your eye. I imagine it would be a challenging place to play a beer-fueled game of eye spy with friends. I typically go just for a beer but they also offer up a solid Irish Coffee served in the proper vessel.
Red's Place is the oldest bar in Chinatown. It's a no-frills stop that gets things right: cheap beers and generous pours. I appreciate it because they stock a few amaris on the back bar which; for me, is exactly I need after having a spicy meal at Z&Y or one too many rounds of Dim Sum at Great Eastern Restaurant across the street.
Jasmine GardenDuboce Triangle
A lot of times I find Phò to be overly aromatized with cinnamon or other spices but the phò at JG is the exception. My power-flex for a solid night out is starting with a deep bowl of Phò and then rum charged tiki drinks next door at Last Rites. Their namesake cocktail is one of my favorite drinks in the city.
Around the corner from Last Rites and Jasmine Garden sits Beit Rima serving Arab comfort food with full flavor. Go with friends and order the whole menu. You cannot go wrong here.
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I was first introduced to Sichuan-Style cooking in my hometown; Portland, Maine, at a restaurant called Sichuan Kitchen. To this day I feel that their Mapo Tofu has healing properties. I feel the same about Chili House in Richmond. The House Spicy Prawns and of course the Mapo is a must.
The Brazen HeadCow Hallow
I love it when you walk into a restaurant and the feeling you get from it intrinsically tells you what you need to order. When I step into The Brazen Head an alarm goes off in my head that says it's Martini-time. I get a similar feeling when I walk into the House of Prime Rib. The space is nostalgic with wood paneling and stained glass and the service is familial. I go for their herb-butter drenched Escargot and the table bread is perfect for soaking up any reminisce.