Dogpatch Saloon Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

2496 3d St. ~ (415) 643-8592

7:30pm Friday 22 February 2008

Prologue: I’ve actually been to Dogpatch Saloon. I found it quite charming. Only trouble was the company. (“Our drinks are stiffer than your date’s dick” was printed on the coaster, and that coaster wasn’t kidding!) A brand-new Barfly — Big Easy — is coming all the way from Santa Cruz and will finally be able to attend an Official Visit, so the company factor is guaranteed to be 100% improved over the last time I was there. And Dogpatch Saloon seemed to me then to be the sort of place that doesn’t change much, so it’s bound to be as appealing a place to drink as it was before. Please do come join me and Big Easy for a drink or so (that is, if you are reasonably certain of your status as “good company”) at Dogpatch Saloon, won’t you?

Afterword: As I mentioned, I had been to Dogpatch Saloon before, so its rustic charm was no surprise to me on my Official Visit. In fact, I was relieved that the place was precisely as I remembered it, despite being crowded with at least ten times the number of customers as the last time I was there. Even the bartender was the same. If I had forgotten his face (which I had not, at least not completely), then his name would have been enough to remind me that he was behind the bar that other time, too (hi, Goody!).

Big Easy was not there yet, so I had some (/lots of) time to scope out the joint. Dogpatch Saloon is brightly lit (not blindingly so, but there are no dim spots in which to hide a bad hair day, or, say, circles under the eyes from partying pretty much all week long, if one’s friends are to be believed about their version of a certain merry-making timeline that I still think sounds a little far-fetched, even for me). I’ve never had trouble parking there (a major plus). The coasters didn’t have witty — and uncannily accurate — double entendres printed on them on my reunion with Dogpatch Saloon and Goody, but I did get a chance to count the 5 tv’s, 4 ceiling fans, 3 semi-taxidermied pheasants on the wall near the optimistically named “kitchen’, 2 old-timey cash registers, and 1 pool table — squeezed in between the barstools and the booths on the opposite wall so tightly that players need to rearrange people at the bar fairly frequently. And you know what? The vibe in Dogpatch Saloon is so mellow that nobody minds this. Not even The Hostess, as she waited — and waited, and waited — for Big Easy to show up (and if that isn’t high praise, I don’t know what is…)

Dogpatch Saloon is quite evidently frequented by a preponderance of so-called regulars. Which is to say that The Hostess was more than a little, shall we say, conspicuous — especially given my unaccompanied state. Fortunately, I have found that whipping out the Official Notebook and gazing around purposefully and pausing to take notes almost always leads to a new acquaintance (or so), conversations with whom can easily tide me over until a ‘Fly buzzes in. For example, just as I was noting the existence of a raised bit of floor with a piano jammed onto it that could — perhaps — be deemed a stage, a regular named Rick (aka: Rugrat) decided to introduce himself — and a large part of the back of the bar — to me, in the course of inquiring what I was writing…”about our Bar, right?

I don’t think that any of them believed why I was really there and what I was actually doing, despite the business cards (with the possible exception of Cliff, who subsequently warned us about the dubious status of Oxygen Bar in the Mission). But everyone — including Gene, the “mayor of Dogpatch” — was very friendly, in a way that I didn’t feel like I was quite so conspicuously unaccompanied any longer. This being, ipso facto, the sign of a very good Bar…

As I began to seriously contemplate sampling the free pretzels (which really couldn’t have hurt me, given that I was easily 4 days into a debilitating and lingering mysterious illness that would plague me for weeks), Big Easy, at long last, tapped me on the shoulder. It turned out that he had brought along a surprise: the fabulous Dottie P.! So I had double my anticipated long-lost liaison, which was even more than twice as much fun as I thought I would have at Dogpatch Saloon that night (don’t bother trying to do the math — the Fun Factor is a variable that exists in four dimensions and cannot be calculated, except during Official Visits, and after at least two strong drinks). Big Easy and Dottie P. even got to be in the Official Photo since, after all, I had been there long enough to figure out who to trust with my camera for the duration of one shot. Even though we were all understandably disappointed that the Official Visit ended as soon as it did (although I personally had at least 3 scotch & sodas, all told), I made sure to sign Free Drink coupons for Big Easy and Dottie P., the better to keep them from being long-lost to me again.

Suffice to say, Dogpatch Saloon is a fine place to have a drink (or so). If I lived in the neighborhood, I’d most likely be one of the so-called regulars. Alas, I live elsewhere. But I will certainly keep Dogpatch Saloon in mind when(if)ever I’m in the vicinity. Dogpatch Saloon is the kind of Bar one can probably rely on (for a while, at least, as long as the forces of gentrification can be kept at bay) to be a reliable place to have a good drink, for a fair price, in the company of some friendly folks (and if one doesn’t wander in there with someone the coasters might be making fun of in the first place that night, so much the better!).

Bathroom Biography:
One for each. Perfectly serviceable. But I used up the last of the toilet tissue. Believe it or not, I think Dogpatch Saloon got extra points when I pointed this out to Goody and he hastily grabbed a roll out of the mens’ room and asked me to personally re-stock the ladies’. I tell you, the vibe is so mellow at Dogpatch Saloon, not only did I not mind at all, I was happy to help out. Go figure. Better yet, go to Dogpatch Saloon and check it all out for yourself.

 

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The Barfly Forum Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

This is a place to chat amongst yourselves. via the Comments feature…

Eight Lounge Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

1151 Folsom ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 431-1151

Saturday 31 January 2009

Tentatively: whenever they open Saturday 17 May 2008

Prologue:  Look, I’ve been trying to get the lowdown on this place all week.  I’ve sent 2 e-mails.  I’m calling them Friday night to see what the deal is on Saturday.  I may need to actually swing by and get the details.  There’s something called “Mandonna” which I think is either a Madonna drag show — which would be fabulous — or a few hours of nothing but Madonna songs — which would also not suck.  I just need to find out when it starts and if there’s a cover, so I can let you know.  Check back on Saturday (afternoon, please, I’m going to need to sleep in after singlehandely saving the Sazerac, I’m sure you understand).

I was there, I swear.  Totally according to plan.  And the — get this — the doorman talked me out of it.  He said there was a $12.00 cover that there was no way around, and that if I came back the next weekend, I could get in for free and he would buy me my first drink.  Just then, I got word that “The Wizard of Oz” was playing in Dolores Park, from a guy offering to take me there on a motorcycle.  Honestly, can you blame me for postponing the Official Visit to Eight Lounge under those kind of irresistible circumstances?

Third time’s a charm, and this time, nothing is going to stop me.  (Stop smirking!)

Afterword: It all started when I got an e-mail from Big Easy, inquiring as to the status of this project.  I admitted to having gotten derailed by an unimpressive stretch of the alphabet, and resolved to rectify the situation in short order.   In a post titled “E = Enough Already”, I — somewhat unenthusiastically — alerted anyone interested to “save the date”:

As in: enough procrastinating on this project.

To be fair, E is a lousy letter for Bars in The Book.  So I’m just going to get it over with on Saturday 31 January 2009.

More details to follow, but anyone who knows how this ridiculous blog works will be able to ascertain pretty well that getting the E’s over with at last shows little promise in the actual merriment department.  But The Hostess knew this fool’s errand wasn’t going to be all fun and games when she started, and so the prospect of an unenchanting evening is no reason to quit now.

Worst case scenario: I drink 3 shots of tequila in 3 Bars by myself.  Worse Worst case scenario: I drink 2 shots of tequila in 2 Bars by myself and am murdered by a drunken bunch of migrant workers when I walk in the door of the third Bar.  (Which will really suck, because if I don’t get to drink there, it won’t even count as an Official Visit.)

I’m not going to beg you to come (unless you are a burly, gay Mexican who wants to make some extra cash being my bodyguard/driver/photographer), but think how sad (guilty) you’ll feel when you hear about my grisly demise through the grapevine if you don’t.

By the next day, I had all the dealt with the details, and the schedule for that Saturday’s “Spree Through the E’s” was posted under “E is for Expectations”:

One thing The Hostess has learned about expectations — from going to the first 39 Bars in The Book (and from having a chauffeur) — is that the lower one’s expectations are, the better are one’s expectations of being pleasantly surprised. (If you think this sounds like some kind of Zen Buddhist koan mumbo-jumbo, then you’re right. Remember, this year’s motto is “More Divine in ’09”.)

With this in mind, on 31 Saturday January 2009, Saturday’s “Spree Through the E’s” (as it will henceforth be ever-known) will proceed as follows:

9:30pm: Eight Lounge — I am pleased to report that I have (semi-)secured a suitable escort to this establishment (Rocks before Cocks” — whew!) There is some sort of live music show starting at either 10:00 (according to the performer’s web site) or 10:30 (according to the club’s web site), but I don’t really care, because, while I don’t mind paying the nominal $5 cover for my Elegant Escort and I, it would truly surprise me if I were to remain here for more than an hour. I will be sipping a shot of tequila, whilst I survey the premises for your edification, before proceeding to…

Now, I had reason to believe that Big Easy and Dottie P. were going to join me at some point in the proceedings.  (I wasn’t even ruling out an appearance of the famously reclusive Dr. Black.)  And I had the lean and luscious Kevin Banks to get me in and out of Eight. But you cannot imagine my surprise when, as Kevin Banks and I set out to stroll down the block, we had a positive passel of new Barflies with us.  Somehow, while waiting for the appointed hour, the redoubtable Jessica Rabbit had enlisted the lovely Holly-Anne, the best-Barfly-named-to-date Hooker Bait, and the seriously Salawesome to eagerly experience the Spree Through the E’s with Kevin Banks and I…

I”m not sure what Big Easy thought when he saw me saunter into Eight surrounded by such a crowd, but I will not soon forget the thrill I got when he whispered “Grenadine” in my ear.  I knew then and there that E was going to be for Epic, and that the great social experiment that is Bars By The Book was not going to disappoint.

As for Eight…it’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be. There’s three distinct spaces on the ground floor (rooftop patio was not open for our inspection, alas).  Front bar (with hooks), middle space (with makeshift stage and a lot of mirrors), and back bar (with a couple of booths and those crazy laser-projected dots on the ceiling).  It’s very dark, on account of there being no windows and the entire premises being painted black. They have $9.00 tequila and $4.00 tequila (of which The Hostess recommends the former).  Big Easy had the following issue with his $9.00 margarita:

Eight: The bartender made my margarita with Rose’s Lime Juice – WTF? The smoking patio pretty much made up for it, though – a narrow passageway between two buildings, with stylized palm trees!

…and he is completely correct about the smoking patio, which is, as far as The Hostess is concerned, Eight’s best feature. (Although, crammed full of smokers, it could definitely totally suck).

Then again, I have not experienced the rooftop garden at Eight, which, for all I know, could really redeem the place. There are, however, more than one other rooftops in the immediate vicinity, should you find yourself in the environs with a rooftop jones. But if you are gay and Asian, by all means give Eight a chance.

My own favorite part about Eight was after we left and Holly-Anne showed her true colors as a fantastic photographer.  She realized that if we clambered (a word that does not get used enough, frankly) into the back of the  pickup parked in front of Eight, that she could get the Bar’s sign in the shot.  I seem to recall her actually sitting in the street to accomplish this photographic feat.  The rest of the evening proceeded to get hazy, but I do distinctly remember thinking, as Big Easy helped me gracefully out of whoever’s pickup truck that was,  that Holly-Anne was my kind of girl.

El Tin Tan Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

3065 16th ~ (415) 558-9746

Prologue: 11:30-ish:
El Tin Tan — <cue=”dreamy musical effect”> It was the second night of the Holiday Lark III, 2007, when I walked into Coco’s Bar — a 100% Latino establishment — with only a whisper of a modicum of trepidation. Immediately upon the arrival, shortly thereafter, of one Dr. Black, what commenced was one of the most festive evenings that I can barely remember. (Someday, the notes I took that night will be deciphered and I will recount the riotous raucousness of that remarkable evening…)

The Hostess is NOT promising a similarly enriching experience at Et Tin Tan. (Full disclosure: I, myself, will probably just be pretty giddy to have gotten a parking space somewhere in the vicinity.) The Hostess is factoring in time for driving to the general locale, miraculously finding a parking space, and ordering a beer… in Spanish. Thereafter, I expect to leave El Tin Tan, more or less immediately.
</cue>

Afterword: We had to take two cabs, and so we were a little discombobulated, and there was the arrival of Dottie P. which we were also awaiting … so The Hostess was, understandably, very distracted, but I did still notice that everyone in this Bar was staring at us. Not in an unfriendly way. But in a noticeable one…as in, “who the hell are these people with different skin color than we have and what are they doing here?”

The boys’ cab arrived.  We investigated the premises, which turned out to be a trio of a floor plan, strangely reminiscent of Eight: front bar, then a space with pool tables, followed by a dance floor (& dj).  Holly-Anne had figured out how to order a White Russian in Spanish, and so she was feeling like dancing, which the rest of us eventually joined her in.  (Holly-Anne’s dancing is pretty damn infectious.)  Especially, of course, Hooker Bait, who got his Barfly name when a certain lovely Latina lady crossed the dance floor for the express purpose of asking him to dance with her  Holly-Anne and Jessica Rabbit danced up some storms with the locals and The Hostess cut a rug with Salawesome!!!  After a while, we were all pretty much dancing together, and the Barflies were getting stared at less noticeably…

The Hostess was feeling strangely culturally ambassador-ish.  Big Easy concurred.  Dottie P. showed up and brought 2 free drink coupons, which were honored in full. The “Spree Through the E’s”  was officially amazing — priceless photos had already been taken — and not even over yet…

I was so intoxicated on $13.00 worth of tequila from Eight that  I confess that I don’t know if they have hooks (but I doubt they do).  Dottie P. says this is an El Salvadoran Bar (as opposed to a Mexican one).  I’m not sure what the difference is if you are 1 of the only 5 white people, or the only African-American or Middle Eastern person, in the Bar (which we were).

But I am sure about two things:

  1. Dr. Black sent me an e-mail with instructions to text him when I got to El Tin Tan.  I didn’t get the e-mail in time, so I missed him, but it definitely speaks to his character that he was willing to meet me there.  He is a gentleman, and a scholar, and would have probably been miserable at El Tin Tan, which I’m sure he knew anyway when he generously offered to meet me there, nevertheless, which is just one more testament to the awesomeness of Dr. Black (a phrase to which I am quite, quite certain he will object, but which I will not be retracting).
  2. The “Spree Through the E’s” was going, — strangely enough — swimmingly.  The Hostess was drinking a lot more beer than usual (i.e. ever), but still having a smashingly good time.

Big Easy had this to say about El Tin Tan:

El Tin Tan: The first bar I’ve been in where I was taller than most of the other men! The bartender didn’t know how to pull a beer, resulting in two glasses of foam. Also, they needed to clean their lines, as Dottie P’s beer was apparently skanky. Awesome music! And Salvadoran hookers, to boot!

You know what? As much fun as we had there, you should really thank us for going to El Tin Tan so that you don’t have to.

Finally, in the lady’s defense — and Hooker Bait’s — we have no actual reason to suspect that she was really a hooker.

El Trebol Bar No. 3 Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

3149 22nd ~ (415) 647-5774

Prologue: 1:00am (at the latest & probably way more like 12:15-ish if I am not running late): El Trebol Bar No. 3 — I might wind up being named the next Ambassador to Venezuela … or I might not make it out of this Bar alive. The skinny on the internet has me uncharacteristically unnerved about this Bar, and I hope that my own experience here reinforces my dubiousness about yelpers’ opinions (by which I mean: “masses-schmasses”

and live to tell the tale (somewhat rather eventually), of course.

Afterword: As the evening was balmy (or we were too drunk to notice otherwise), our bunch of Barflies decided to stroll from El Tin Tan to El Trebol Bar No. 3, so it was a good thing I had decided to wear my sensible 2-inch Hightail-It Heels instead of the 3&1/2-inch Catch-Me-Come-Kill-Me ones I’ve been wearing lately.

Stumbling into El Trebol Bar No. 3 would have been a sobering experience, if we had been less collectively wasted.  Big Easy summed it up succinctly:

El Trebol: I’ve never been frisked as completely as I was trying to get in to this bar, even when I was tapped for a secondary search by TSA because their machine sniffed out bomb residue or accelerants on my clothes. Men’s room had vending machines for condoms, cock rings and french ticklers – SCORE!!

Kevin Banks was right behind me in his first attempt at getting in the door and I was beyond a little upset when he got turned away for having some sort of contraband on him (the rogue!).  But he got in shortly thereafter and I could move on to the more important issue of making my way to restroom, which meant my traversing another Bar full of people staring at us, and this time in a less-friendly  manner than the merely noticeable one we experienced at El Tin Tan.  There is no dance floor at El Trebol Bar No. 3, so my mind raced as to how we would manage to win over this tough crowd…

Holly-Anne and Jessica were holed up in the bathroom and would not let me in.  As it happens, they had the foresight to visit the facilities together, which is necessary at El Trebol Bar No. 3, due to the disconcerting fact that the door to the ladies’ room does not have any lock on it whatsoever and is far enough away from the toilet to prohibit any lone visitor from barricading herself in.

However, while waiting to discover the horrors of the bathroom at El Trebol Bar No. 3, The Hostess did make the acquaintance of two men perched at the back of the Bar who appeared to be more or less in charge of whatever might or might not be permitted to happen on the premises that particular evening (/morning, which it was by then).  I believe this was a most fortunate event.  While I was somewhat taken aback when they first said to me, “You and your friends will be perfectly safe here,” (I kid you not),  by the 15th or 16th time that the security guard — who definitely seemed to have been assigned to ensure our safety — repeated this sentiment to me, I was beginning to find it endearing…

The Hostess made it into and out of the bathroom (thank you, science, for Purell).  Our security detail had procured us some tables.  There was even a waitress (which I found surprising, given the overall environment totally not seeming like a place that would have table service).  Holly-Anne decided she wanted to play pool (since there was no dance floor, I suppose) and so she and I entertained everyone with a round of Girl Pool (no calling shots and lots of gratuitous leaning over the pool table), which  I am pleased to say that I almost won (damn that 8-ball!).

Would I recommend you visit El Trebol Bar No. 3?  No, I would not.  The lighting is fluorescent, the security is scary (in that it’s necessary, not that it isn’t reassuring), and the bathrooms are disgusting (Jessica Rabbit took my camera into the mens’ room and got some shots that confirm this is the fact across the gender board).  (And yes, I did just say, “Jessica Rabbit took my camera into the mens’ room…“)  But if you go anyway, will you check for hooks and get back to me on that?

Am I glad that I went to El Trebol Bar No. 3?  Absolutely.  But only on account of the fantastic company I had.  We were just like a mini version of a United Nations delegation, only more intoxicated.  And better looking.

Thanks to a cast of true characters (in order of appearance):  Kevin Banks (my dapper date for the Spree), Jessica Rabbit (who enlisted 3 new Barflies, to say nothing of her heroics in getting the photos from the mens’ room at El Trebol Bar No. 3), Holly-Anne (my new favorite Official Photo photographer, and who I’ll challenge to Girl Pool any time), Hooker Bait (who is obviously a really good sport, and also a fine escort down Valencia St.), Salawesome (who more than lives up to his Barfly name, and is very fun to dance with), Big Easy (who is angling for the “Barfly Who Travelled The Farthest Distance” award, and who helped The Hostess stick to the Spree schedule), and Dottie P. (who not only came all the way from the East Bay, but who rustled up those free drink coupons — well done, D.!).