Food & Drink

Sailing through


THE WEEKNIGHTER It opened a couple years ago at this point. Someone had said to me, “Hey man you been to Southern Pacific Brewing yet?” I hadn’t even heard of it, “What the fuck is a Southern Pacific Brewing?” I asked. A giant, 10,000-square-foot brewpub had just opened almost directly behind my regular bar, The Homestead, and, like, two blocks from my apartment — and I hadn’t even heard of it. Well maybe it’s because it’s not my apartment anymore, I thought to myself. I’d recently moved out of the neighborhood after breaking up with my long-term girlfriend and was sleeping on my cousin’s couch… for a few months.

You know, just some SF shit.

It seemed like my life, my neighborhood, and my city were all spiraling, not exactly out of control, but past mere comprehension. Besides the upheaval of my personal life, San Francisco was just beginning to swell with some kind of sickness, one that it had somehow survived a decade before. And my neighborhood, the Mission, seemed to be the place on San Francisco’s body where the sores of the Money Virus were showing the most. Restaurants were opening on Valencia faster than zippers at the (soon-to-be-closed) Lusty Lady, and little shops and bookstores that had been around for decades were getting tossed out with the trash.

But the thing that worried me the most was that I, Broke-Ass Stuart, the guy who likes to think he knows this city better than anyone, hadn’t even heard of Southern Pacific Brewing. “Have I lost a step?” I wondered. I knew I had to check it out.

All anyone had really said about Southern Pacific Brewing (620 Treat Ave, SF. was that it was HUGE! The ceiling is probably 2.5 stories high and the old warehouse space holds not just the bar-restaurant but also the entire brewing operation as well. I noticed all this when I walked in that first night, despite the fact that I was pretty trashed. I’d downed some booze at Dear Mom, banged a few back at Bender’s, hoovered some shots at the Homestead, and then sauntered into Southern Pacific. I was drowning in heartbreak and — that friend’s couch — numbing backache.

“It is huge,” I said to whichever of my no-goodnik friends I was with that night. We took in the environs. There was a sizable crowd, lots of good-looking people who probably would’ve been terrified to go that deep into the Mission a few years before. Thrillist or something like that had just blown the place up that day so all the Chads and Madisons from other parts of the city were there to explore a “hot new neighborhood spot,” I figured.

And then I looked around some more and saw plenty of Mission locals and natives whom I’d spent my twenties running around the neighborhood dive bars with. It was a good mix of everything the Mission was at the moment, for better and for worse. I liked the place immediately.

A bit later I ran into a girl I hadn’t seen in awhile and we talked about the city and its changes and about all the things that happen to you while you’re trying to grow up. And then it was last call and my friends were gone so the girl took me home with her. I hadn’t slept in a bed in a long time, so for at least that night my heartache and my backache were put to rest.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Foaming at the mouth


THE WEEKNIGHTER There’s a series of photos of me at Mad Dog in the Fog (530 Haight St, SF. 415-626-7279) where I am an absolute monster. I’m dressed in a wretched, beer-stained Santa suit, I have Mickey Mouse ears on, and there’s also some kind of sparkly garland thing adorning my head. In most of the pictures I’m flipping off the camera and making ridiculous faces that usually include an Elvis type lip curl. I look unhinged. I look subhuman. Goddamn, I look like I’m having fun. It was SantaCon 2011.

One of the few things I remember about our pit stop at the Mad Dog was gurgling, “I didn’t know they had a backyard here!” as we stumbled out into it. Apparently they do have one. I feel like I may have found out where the bar’s name came from as well, but that was lost, just like my sense of personhood that day. There is nothing noble about being Oscar the Grouch-level trashed. The only thing you get out of it is a bunch of photos where you look like somebody Shrek wouldn’t even fuck.

Luckily for us, Mad Dog is used to having stark, raving lunatics, in colorful garb, wasted there in the middle of the day. In fact the Lower Haight pub just had a full month of it. Mad Dog in the Fog has long been a staple for any soccer fan in San Francisco. Whether it’s the World Cup or The English Premier League or even a Las Chivas game, Mad Dog lives and breathes soccer. The doors open at 7am every Saturday and Sunday, so people can come watch their favorite team shoot goals and take flops.

I was lucky that day in 2011 that Mad Dog doesn’t serve hard alcohol. I was in a state of saying “hell yes” to pretty much everything, and who knows what would’ve happened. This lack of hard alcohol is also a blessing to serious beer drinkers: It allows Mad Dog to serve more than 150 different kinds of beer from around the world, some of which are rare and hard to get.

In fact, Mad Dog is so supportive of your beer problem that it even lets you pour your own. Yes, you read that right. A few years ago the proprietors installed a TableTender, a system of two taps that stick out of the middle of a table. You and your pals then pour all the beer you’d like from said taps and a display keeps track of how much you drink. Afterwards you settle your tab with the bar staff. I’m pretty sure they were hiding the TableTender from me and my friends that day. I would’ve if I were them.

I’d like to say that after behaving like a Garbage Pail Kid at Mad Dog in the Fog I went home and slept it off, but that would be a lie. Just like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I was a tenacious bastard and led my party of holiday revelers to a number of other bars after that. I eventually lost them all, of course, and ended up at a house party… I think. Honestly nothing else I did later that night exists because nobody, to my knowledge, took any more photos.

But to this day, every time I walk by Mad Dog in the Fog, even when there’s a line of 50 people waiting to get in to watch a sports game, I mutter to myself, “I didn’t know they had a backyard here!” and smile thinking about that weird day back in 2011.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


I want to believe


THE WEEKNIGHTER I don’t know, man. Would I believe what, that cocktails exist? Yes absolutely, I have four in my belly right now. Is this an X-Files themed bar? I hope so! Why is the grammar so totally screwed up in the name of this bar? What is the goddamn question anyways?

These are all things I was thinking as Ashley and I walked into Would You Believe? Cocktails (4652 Geary Blvd., SF. 415-752-7444). We’d wandered down from Trad’r Sam on our little weeknight adventure in the Richmond and here we were. Walking in I surveyed the scene: sitting around the bar was a crowd of Asian folks of various ages. Some were drinking and talking, others flirting with each other, while still others were at the short end of the bar slamming down dice. One girl kept squealing very loudly every time the dice went down. I don’t think she quite understood the game.

“I know what the question is,” I told Ashley. “It’s ‘Would You Believe how cheap the drinks are here?!'” Well drinks were $4, a shot and a beer combo was $5, and Hennessey was also $5. I don’t drink Henny, but I spend enough time in bars to know that’s insanely cheap.

“Hey, wanna have an orgy?” Ashley smiled as she asked me. I’d been trying to get her to warm up to the idea of a threesome for a while, so I was surprised that, of all places, Would You Believe? was what finally got her in the mood. Then I looked where she was pointing and saw that I’d been had. An “Orgy” was just the name of one of the spot’s signature cocktails. Other drinks had names like “Wet Pussy” and “One Night Stand.” I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a drink called a “Long Slow Fisting Against a Wall.”

I stuck with my usual vodka soda, and we picked a place on a banquette to soak in the atmosphere. In this case the “atmosphere” was fake flowers, lots of mirrors, low lighting accented with some blues and purples, and songs by 2 Chainz. I fucking hate 2 Chainz.

My favorite part of Would You Believe was the sign outside that said “Forecast for Tonight: Alcohol. Low Standards and Bad Decisions.” I’m always a sucker for clever sidewalk signs. I was telling Ashley this when a group of five guys rolled in, none of which could’ve have been more than 22 years old. Considering they were all so clean cut and of pretty much every ethnicity but Asian, I said, “Those guys have to be hostel kids. There’s no way they are local.” I strained to hear what their accents were but dice kept banging on the bar and the damn woman kept squealing about it. Nobody likes dice that much. The whole scene was pretty weird.

The new boys flirted with the pretty bartenders and then played some pool and Ashley and I lost interest in figuring out what their accents were. The night was misty and cold and the thought of my warm bed was enough to draw us out of there and send us on our way. But we still never got the answer to the question “Would You Believe?”

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

The mayor of tiki


WEEKNIGHTER The best tiki bar I’ve ever been to is Smith’s Union Bar in Honolulu’s Chinatown. It’s a shitty little tiki dive bar with even shittier karaoke. It’s also the oldest bar on the island. The night I was there it was full of Navy dudes, punk chicks, gay guys, and a big hulking, transgendered Pacific Islander. I had the crowd arm-in-arm singing “Tiny Dancer” and “Don’t Let Me Down” while cheering me on and buying me drinks after I sang. It was pretty much what I wish happened every night of my life.

While nothing can quite compare to Smith’s Union for obvious reasons, Trad’r Sam (6150 Geary Blvd, SF. 415-221-0773) is probably my second favorite tiki bar in the world. Sitting way out on Geary and 26th Avenue, Trad’r Sam got its start as a Trader Vic knockoff back in the 1930s. And it seems not much has changed since then. Cheap, powerful, colorful drinks come in punch bowls while wicker and cushion booths line the perimeter of the room. Cash is the only form of legal tender accepted and really drunk people abound. The bar itself is shaped in an irregular half circle with a lump, like a boob job gone wrong.

It was a foggy Tuesday night and Ashley and I had just come from Rockin Crawfish down the way. Neither of us make it out to the Richmond very often so it was an excuse to wander into places that she’s never been and I hadn’t been in years. As we walked in the door we were blown away by how busy it was. It seemed like the only business with any customers on that side of Park Presidio. “Damn, it’s busy,” I said to the door guy. “Is it always like this on Tuesdays?” I asked. He replied, “Pretty much.”

We were impressed. Most of the bars in that part of town, at that particular hour on a weeknight, had a client base consisting of old drunks pissing away what little money they had while staring into their beers. Somehow Trad’r Sam had every young and attractive person in the Richmond inside its walls that night. People of all ethnicities mingled together sipping flamboyant drinks while laughing, flirting, and grooving to music like MGMT.

“Can I touch your coat? Where’d you get it?” a girl asked as she approached us.

“Sure,” I said, “I got it at some thrift store.”

To which she responded by hugging me and saying, “I’m Jillian and you smell like garlic fries.” Jillian told us that Trad’r Sam was her favorite bar and since she lived nearby, she was there all the time. “Everyone here is so nice,” she told me, “Most of the time one of the bartenders walks me home. And if I black out I always make it home safely.” Blacking out is an easy thing to do at Trad’r Sam. Considering how many new SF bars have drinks that start at $12, the most expensive drink at Trad’r Sam is $16 and comes in a bowl meant for multiple people.

Walking out that night and towards the next bar on our adventure, I told Ashley about Smith’s Union and all the incredible things that happen there. “That’s all well and good,” she told me, “but I bet you never met the mayor there.”

“Huh?” I asked and she showed me her phone check in at Trad’r Sam. Apparently Jillian was the mayor on Foursquare. I never new smelling like garlic fries would lead me to meet such illustrious people. If you make it to Trad’r Sam, give the mayor a hug for me.


The warm-up


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?

There’s something romantic about San Francisco’s summertime fog. Those damp and chilly nights belong only to us, and the atmosphere they create is what dreams are made of. While the rest of the country simultaneously shares the same experience of panting and sweltering, we bundle up in scarves and coats and hoodies and boots just to run to the store. Maybe that’s the real reason San Francisco feels like a bubble. Maybe it’s not just that we’re this bedrock of progressivism and technological innovation. Maybe it’s that, like living inside a shaken snow globe, our lives are defined by the fact that the rest of the world is obscured from us by the mists floating in the air.

I’ve been telling Noah for a while that I’m gonna go visit him at the Fireside Bar (603 Irving, SF. 415-731-6433). We used to work Thursday nights together at the Golden Gate Tap Room until we didn’t anymore, and I’ve been meaning to catch up with him during one of his shifts at the Fireside. Situated at the corner of Seventh and Irving, the Fireside may be the perfect neighborhood bar. It’s got a dive bar feel without being rundown and smelly, the drinks are stiff and cheap, and the regulars are friendly enough. But most importantly it’s got a motherfucking fireplace.

Imagine this: You’ve decided to get out of your regular routine and go explore somewhere else. Maybe you wandered around Golden Gate Park or decided to check out the Inner Sunset. Or you just walked to the end of Upper Haight and decided to keep on going into the unknown. It’s July in San Francisco, and the sun is starting to go down, and you’ve been wandering around all day with someone who makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. Let’s grab a drink, one of you says as your feet start to hurt and your mouth feels parched and the top of the ear where you just kissed your special person is cold to the touch. And then you see the Fireside Bar. While San Francisco summers have been around far longer than the Fireside, it’s weird to imagine one without the other. You think about this as the two of you order drinks before sitting down to make love-eyes at each other near the fireplace.

I first moved to San Francisco in the summertime, and considering I lived in the Upper Haight, the fog was like a visitor who showed up towards the end of each day. My friend Maria lived a block down from me so one night we got drunk at her place and decided to go on an adventure. I grabbed my skateboard, she put on her roller skates and we headed west to explore parts of SF neither of us was familiar with. Cutting through the fog and the shadows of UCSF we eventually found our way to the Fireside, where we stopped for drinks and so Maria could clean up the scrapes she received from falling repeatedly on her skates. We got warm by the fire and then managed to get our drunk asses back to our respective homes without either of us cracking our heads open. It was a romantic night, not in a sexual way, but in a way where we both knew we were two people falling in love with San Francisco and its foggy ways.

I think it’s time I finally get my shit together and go visit Noah. Maybe I need a little fog and the Fireside to remind me of all the reasons I fell in love with this city in the first place.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at

On the hoof


THE WEEKNIGHTER Roughly a decade ago a guy named Ken came into the restaurant I was working at in North Beach. He was new to SF so I convinced him to buy my zine Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco. Thinking it was a good idea, he tried to drink at every bar in the zine in a single night. That was, in fact, a terrible idea and he ended up blacking out and getting kicked out of a few of them. But what he woke up with the next day, besides a horrific hangover, was a brilliant idea: the Broke-Ass Stuart Pub Crawl. And it was through this act of genius that Ken and I became good friends.

The idea was simple; get a big vehicle, fill it with lots of rowdy, drunk people, and cruise around SF descending on bars like a Mongol horde. Ken and his peeps worked at the corporate offices of multibillion dollar companies so they could afford one of those boozy trollies that you see around. Considering no one I knew had any money, I rented a big yellow school bus and filled it with my fellow broke folk, then the trolley and the bus caravanned around town causing mayhem.

As you can tell already, Ken is a man of vision and he said to me at one of our drunken stops, “There’s something I need to do. You know The Black Horse London Pub (1514 Union, SF. 415-928-2414)? It’s the smallest bar in San Francisco. I want to break the record for how many people have fit in there at one time. This is important shit, man.” I could tell Ken was serious, but there was no way both the bus people and the trolley people could all fit into the Black Horse. We decided it was best if the trolley people did Ken’s mission from god by themselves. Afterwards they would meet us at the next stop.

The Black Horse London Pub really is the smallest bar in San Francisco. It’s only 136 square feet, so all it has room for is seven seats, a little bit of standing room, a bar, and a bathtub full of beer. In fact, all it serves is beer. It also has “ten commandments” that include things like women having priority over the seating, kisses being the only thing allowed to be thrown in the bar, and not using your phone. It’s a good place for a party of two — and a terrible place for a party trolley.

“We did it!” Ken told me as he met us at the next bar, “We broke the record!” Honestly, I don’t know if there even was a record before that night, but there certainly was now. Ken was beaming and I was proud of him. He set out to achieve something and he accomplished it with flying colors. Fucking tenacity…or at least, fucking booznacity.

Since then we’ve done the pub crawl six times and Ken has even managed to beat his previous record. Of course nobody is ever sober enough to remember what the record is. Maybe I’ll pop into The Black Horse, ask the owner James if he knows the record, and tell him I’m thinking about planning another pub crawl soon. Hopefully he won’t make an 11th commandment forbidding them.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Who moved my cheese?


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?

I think it was SF writer Brock Keeling who told me The Lion Pub (2062 Divisdero St, SF. 415-567-6565) used to be a gay bar. Well, I mean he didn’t tell me, I read it on his old site SFist, but you get the point. There was some reference to “remembering when the Lion Pub was a gay bar” and I thought, actually I don’t remember that at all. To me the Lion Pub had always been that place that had the cheese spread and that acted as the Normandy in the Marina’s D-Day-like onslaught of Divisidero. It was the first place over the hill where the waves of guys in collared shirts and gals in uncomfortable shoes had landed before slowly, intrepidly, marching south.

It’s hard to be nostalgic for a something you never experienced, but you can sure as hell romanticize it… not that I’m really doing either. As a straight guy I don’t imagine myself trekking all the way over to Lower Pac Heights to frequent a gay bar, especially when I live close to so many on Folsom Street. But Pete Kane’s recent article in SF Weekly about the death of gay culture in SF got me thinking about the peculiarities of The Lion Pub’s transformation. When the bar switched teams in the early 2000s it must’ve been jarring for the regular patrons. What had been a gay bar since 1971 (according to the Gay Bar History Log on The Cinch’s website) was suddenly being filled with the kind of people who still called their friends “fags” when they were busting their balls.

This was the early 2000s after all, way before Ellen or Michael Sam, and not long after Matthew Shepard. Now I’m not saying for sure that shitty things happened, because I want to believe this is/was the San Francisco we all think it is/was. But what I am saying is that the switch from a gay bar to a Marina bar must’ve been mind-boggling.

But I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there. [Ed Note: It was weird, but OK. —Ye Olde Marke B.] The first time I visited The Lion Bar was probably in 2006 and I was incredibly impressed. It felt somewhere between a fern bar (its hidden gay legacy peeking through) and a Victorian parlor, it had a disco ball, and most importantly it had free food. I was researching the “free food” section for my book Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco, and someone had tipped me off to the Lion Pub. Rumor was they put out a big cheese spread and even did free sushi on some nights.

So of course I had to go investigate. Walking in that first night I could smell the fresh fruit juice and could spy attractive people milling around. It was bigger than I expected and it wasn’t till I walked around a bit that I found what I was looking for: cheese and crackers! When I asked the barkeep how often they did this, he just kinda shrugged his shoulders and said, “Pretty much whenever they feel like it,” and let it at that.

I haven’t been back to the Lion’s Pub in years but rumor has it that the luminous cheese spread is no more, which bums me out. But maybe next time I’m in the area I’ll pop in anyways for one of its notorious greyhounds — and I’ll try to imagine what it was like back before everything got so straight. I’ll bring my own cheese spread just for old times’ sake.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Fogged in


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?

We decided to walk around the Tenderloin. I had my computer, Gene had his bike, and Sabrina had a bag of things I’m sure she didn’t want taken from her as well. We were coming from my weekly Wednesday gig at Monarch where I do a coloring book happy hour.

“It’s very San Francisco out,” I said as we came up Taylor and saw the fog sliding its fingers down the sides of Nob Hill’s buildings. “I love summer in San Francisco,” I mused. “Me too,” Sabrina said, “I hate when people bitch about it. It’s part of San Francisco and loving it is part of being a San Franciscan.”

As we got to the entrance of Jones (620 Jones, SF., the three of us landed on something we felt was important at the moment, that before this current gold rush, it was San Francisco’s summers that weeded out who would stay and who would go. You couldn’t take the mist and the fog? Then you got the fuck out of town. That fog is our inheritance and our merit badge and such a part of The City that you have to love it to live here.

Walking out onto the patio at Jones we were surprised there were no heat lamps. The entirely of the joint’s drinkers were crammed into the little sidebar adjacent to the patio, and as we sat down at the short end of the bar, the three of us gave each other a knowing glance. It said: How many of these people are experiencing their first San Francisco summer? How many would be considering packing up and heading back to wherever they’re from if they weren’t here for the gold rush? How many are living in apartments recently vacated by people whose love for the fog, and all it represents, just wasn’t enough to be able to keep them here?

Gene tipped the barman with a two-dollar bill. “Oh wow,” the bartender said, “you’re still doing that after all this time?” Gene told us he’d met him years before, during the first dot com boom, when the guy tended bar at 111 Minna. “Back then Minna was just a small one room space, not like it is now, Gene explained. “And I remember being there and learning for the first time how badly cocaine got on top of some people when these two girls, up from LA, were offering to blow people for blow.” As I looked around the room at all the pretty and well-dressed people, I wondered what they’d all be willing to do to get something they really wanted. I wondered the same thing about myself. What was I willing to do to stay in San Francisco if push came to shove and shove came to eviction.

Across the bar I noticed a friend who was obviously on a date and even more obviously drunk. “Hey look who it is,” I said to Sabrina who was also friends with the girl, and our conversation changed to the fact that, another integral part of living here is being ok with your past. “You can’t burn bridges,” Gene said, “since you’re bound to run into that person on a barstool sometime soon.” To which I replied, “If you burnt San Francisco’s bridges, all we’d be left with was the Peninsula…” The joke hit all three of us harder than expected. We looked around, looked at each other, and then left the bar. We felt more at home amid the fog anyways. 

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at  

Secret passages


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?

It was weird that Anthony wanted to go to Bourbon & Branch (501 Jones St, SF. 415-346-1735) for his birthday. “But you don’t drink,” I said, hoping to find out why someone who’d never had a drop of booze in his life, due to being born with a bum liver, would want to go to a fancy bar. “I know that, dummy,” he told me. “But I heard they have a secret room that opens up when you pull a book!”

He had me there. Bourbon & Branch has a few secret rooms that open up when you do various Hardy Boys-esque actions. It’s one of the bar’s many charms. When it opened in 2006, there were no mustache bars in San Francisco. You know what I mean by mustache bars — the ones where a bow tie and suspender wearing, mustachioed man squeezes tiny tinctures into your drink from a utensil clearly invented by alchemists. They are omnipresent in current-day San Francisco but when Bourbon & Branch opened, it was the first one in the city.

At this point, anyone who spends a lot of time in bars is pretty tired of cocktails that are too precious and take too much time, and most of us are waiting for the backlash when places go back to specializing in a shot and a beer. But the thing that makes Bourbon & Branch great is that, while it can take a lot of credit for kicking off the pre-Prohibition cocktail craze in San Francisco, it still does it better than any of them. Why? Because of it’s attention to detail.

They say you’ll always remember your first one. But often times your second one is far better. The first speakeasy style bar I went to was Little Branch back when I lived in NYC, and it was cool. But it wasn’t until I moved back to San Francisco that I saw the trope played out to its full potential. Walking into Bourbon & Branch that first time in 2008 made the history nerd in me squeal. It felt like a real speakeasy. It was full of dark wood and was low lit by candles and a chandelier. Bartenders in ties and fedoras shook things vigorously while making cocktails that hadn’t been popular in half a century. People were only served if they were seated and they were encouraged to speak quietly.

And then I got to the backroom where suddenly the bookshelf opened and an entire other bar was laid out before me, filled with people drinking similarly well-made drinks while laughing and talking loudly. “Where the fuck am I,” I asked myself before realizing I couldn’t afford the place and leaving out the backdoor.

So a few years ago when Anthony said he wanted to go here for his birthday my first reaction was, “Motherfucker, why are we gonna go somewhere with $12 cocktails when you don’t even drink?” His answer was relatable to any of us who have ever dreamed of traveling through time or going on the kind of adventures you only see in movies or read about in books. He wanted to go through the secret passageway and spend time in a San Francisco that no longer exists.

So do I.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


No web jukes


THE WEEKNIGHTER Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?

 The Internet jukebox may be the second worst thing that has happened to drinking since mankind invented alcohol. The first worst thing was the hangover, of course, but that has existed since the morning after alcohol was discovered. It took millennia for villains to come up with something nearly as vile as a hangover, and when they did, it was the Internet jukebox.

Think about it. The jukebox is one of the best ways for a bar to create its vibe. If you go to Zeitgeist, you know you’re going to hear Slayer. You may not like Slayer, but you at least know what you’re getting into and you accept it as part of the experience. The Internet jukebox pisses on all of that by taking away the establishment’s ability to curate its soundscape. Now any asshole can ruin everybody’s night by throwing a $50 bill in the machine and playing two hours of 2 Chainz. These people need to be taken out back and beaten with any number of chainz.

This was all part of the rant I was giving Alex as we sat on the barstools at Last Call (3988 18th St, SF. 415-861-1310). It was happy hour on a Tuesday and I was already a couple drinks in. One of the many things that makes Last Call great is that it doesn’t have an Internet jukebox. Instead, it has one that the owners filled with music they knew their customers would enjoy. Considering Last Call is a neighborhood bar in the Castro with a mild Irish pub feel to it, the box is filled with music like Madonna, The Smiths, U2, Kylie Minogue, and Cher. And of course, lots of disco. And you know what? It’s perfect.

There’s a lot more that makes Last Call great though. Fresh flowers always adorn the back bar, there’s a small library one can peruse, the drinks are stiff as hell, and there’s a cool ’70s-looking fireplace to keep you warm on one of San Francisco’s many chilly nights. But more than anything, it’s the friendliness of the bar that makes it great.

Last Call is a quintessential neighborhood bar. The regulars all know one another — but are more than welcoming when someone new comes in. While waiting for Alex to show up I sat there bullshitting with a handful of guys who were joking that, while they hated gym class in high school, they’d probably love it now because of all the hot boys.

Then there was Karl, the super duper nice happy hour bartender. Each time, just before my little bowl of popcorn went empty, he would appear and fill it again. Karl must’ve had that bartender sixth sense that told him I desperately needed food if I was going to continue downing vodka sodas. All this was happening while people down at the other end of the bar were yelling and high-fiving each other over something one of the Giants did. There wasn’t a shitty-seeming person in the whole joint; everyone seemed to love Last Call as much as it loved them.

“So in conclusion, I say ‘fuck the Internet jukebox’ and all the spineless bastards who invented it,” I finished haranguing Alex. “Jesus dude,” he responded, “All I did was ask how you were doing.” And to that I got up, fed a dollar in the jukebox and put on some Donna Summers…or at least I wanted to. The thing wasn’t on, since the Giants game was.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at


Missing Indie Mart


THE WEEKNIGHTER  Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That’s why each week Broke-Ass Stuart ( will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, bringing you stories about the places and people who make San Francisco one of the most phenomenal cities in the world. Who wants a drink?

I’ve fallen in love many times at Thee Parkside. Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration. I’ve fallen into moderate, short-term infatuation many times at Thee Parkside.

For years it was home to Indie Mart, the DIY, rock-n-roll, block party Kelly Malone and Co. used to throw. Scores of local artist and designers would set up booths along Wisconsin Street, selling all the strange and beautiful things they created, while grimy-looking bands played ear-splitting music inside.

The parade of manic pixie dream girls was unnerving. They had no real place in society and only belonged as unblemished ideals in my mind. Some would float into town for the weekend and set up shop, only to disappear as soon as Indie Mart shut down. Others would flit from booth to booth, trying on each other’s wares and complimenting each other’s outfits. All of them pretty much sold the exact same shit, not that it mattered to me, they were all so lovely to look at and really only brought things to sell to each other anyway.

Thee Parkside is way more than just for day-long block parties full of whimsically dressed Amelies though. It’s a semi-legendary dive bar famed for it’s out-of-the-way location and its kick-ass live shows. Any night of the week you can see a variety of punk, metal, or country bands playing their hearts out on that tiny stage in that perfectly dingy barroom.

It’s also known for an awesome kitchen that manages to turn well-executed dishes like bahn mi and Cuban sandwiches into perfect bar food. If you haven’t been before, the Original Famous Twang Sundays are a great introduction to Thee Parkside life. Where else in The City can you hear country and bluegrass at an all-ages venue with a back patio for free? I think that’s what Sundays were invented for.

Despite these great things that happen at Thee Parkside, it’s still all those Indie Mart afternoons that most poignantly stick out in my mind. Maybe that’s just because, for many San Francisco’s doers and makers, Indie Mart was a place where we found a community of like-minded bad-asses. Dozens of people who were tinkering with wonderful things all throughout the Bay Area suddenly had a place to coalesce, sharing and selling what they made.

Sculptors, screen printers, and jewelry designers, set up shop next to each other while vintage clothes were hawked down the way and carpenters displayed their crafts. People who may never have encountered each other otherwise, were now meeting and forging relationships that would lead to marriages, babies, collaborations, and successful businesses. A diaspora of creative people now had a base and a community and a way to show the world what they were up to. It was honestly and truly, with all earnestness, magical. And Thee Parkside allowed that to happen.

Like all great scenes, Indie Mart came and left just like a goddamn fireball. One day it jumped from being a small thing in Kelly Malone’s backyard to a block party at Thee Parkside. It burned hot and heavy for a few years, and then suddenly it was done. But what it left in its wake was a slew of creators who now had the confidence and contacts to make a business out of what was previously just a hobby. And of course Thee Parkside is still around too.

Every time I pass by, I think, maybe I should get some people together and throw one more big block party for old times sake. And then I say nah, and stop in for a Cuban sandwich and a cheap drink instead.

Stuart Schuffman aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, and TV host. You can find his online shenanigans at