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May 8, 2007

The Bar Belle: A San Francisco Treat

I made my first pilgrimage to the beautiful, level-challenged city of San Francisco last week for vacation. The magic surrounding the city by the bay is hard to describe but easy to feel. I spent most of my days wearing the tourist hat — Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, H&M, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown, sourdough bread, etc. But I spent most of my nights exploring the diverse, “good beer”-heavy nightlife scene.    Not that I was looking for one or anything, but a Bud Light bottle was hard to find, Bud Light draught nowhere in sight. And that’s a good thing. I swear. (In fact, the only American swill in bottle form was Pabst Blue Ribbon, which was everywhere!) Also few and far between were chain restaurants and stores, and that was something I could get behind. The food was delicious — every meal I ate, from pizza to Mexican fare to ravioli to chili in a sourdough bread bowl was absolutely amazing. But back to the drinking …    My younger brother lives in the Mission District, so we hit some great bars right off the bat. The Beauty Bar offered a martini and manicure for $10. Medjool gave us a breath-taking view of the San Fran skyline, but was a bit chilly and windy at night. The Phoenix offered the typical Irish pub atmosphere, but I had some issues with the hipster bartenders skipping my songs on the jukebox. Luckily (for them), they let Journey slide by.    We smoked a (legal) hookah in the Haight-Ashbury district, and imbibed a delicious home-brewed pint at the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park. Lucky 13 in Cole Valley was a punk/biker bar that boasted a jukebox full of obscure, staff-made CDs. I punched in the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” then walked away defeated, turning the rest over to my brother. The Zeitgeist was my favorite nightspot — with more than 20 beers on tap (again, no Bud Light, but that’s fine … really), we took turns ordering pitchers of random beers and enjoyed the perfect weather in the beer garden all night long.    I now have a new appreciation for: Anchor Steam and comfortable shoes.Check out the Bar Belle Blog at www.leoweekly.com