Epic Bush crawl, part one

Pub date October 19, 2010
SectionSuper Ego


SUPER EGO Marke B.’s off getting hitched to Hunky Beau, so we asked the raffishly cute Ruggy, senior community manager at Yelp.com, to fill in as nightlife correspondent. Part two comes out Nov. 3.

What does your average Friday night look like? Does it involve catching up with old college friends over a 2007 Chateau Montelena Bordeaux blend? Maybe you’d rather snuggle up next to your boo on an EQ3 chaise longue with the remote in one hand and a Shake Weight in the other.

If you’re anything like me and my ragtag group of degenerate colleagues, nothing quite spells F-U-N like a bar crawl spanning seven different locations in less than five hours, complete with gratuitous heavy petting, nacho cheese Doritos, and warm Miller High Life. Now, what if I told you there was an unheralded bar route in the city that’s chock-full of sticky floors, intoxicated curmudgeons, and more bottom shelf liquor than you can shake a Polaroid at?

The stretch of self-reproach I reference is Bush Street between Stockton and Taylor. But beware — this challenge isn’t for the faint of heart. Being the altruist I am, I decided to document this fantastic, drunken journey on your behalf, to ensure you avoid a colossal case of bottle flu the following morning. You can thank me later.

Tunnel Top (601 Bush): From Union Square, take the stairs north at the entrance to the Stockton Tunnel (after a salacious afternoon romp at the Green Door if you want to up the ante), turn about face, and gallop roughly 10 paces west. Perfect for guest registration on a Bush Street crawl, since the T-Top offers a nifty happy hour with $3 drafts and $2.75 bottled beers as well as a slew of aging hipsters and law school dropouts (a.k.a. real estate brokers) enjoying glasses of Chimay and a hip playlist. Plenty of complicated haircuts at 6:30 p.m., but not a single raccoon tail in sight.

Chelsea Place (641 Bush): If you’re expecting skyline views of Manhattan and metrosexuals out the wazoo, you most certainly have the wrong Chelsea in mind. This is a cozy nook for true alcoholics, where one drink is too many, and 1,000 is never enough. A tiny push through the saloon-style wooden doors grants you access to the Emerald City of unglamorous horizons. One of the few bars in San Francisco that will still let you smoke inside (but the first of many we encountered this Friday night), the immediate rush of second-hand smoke is enough to give you flashbacks to the first time you choked on a Marlboro Red in your junior high bathroom stall. If you’re sensitive to environmental tobacco, you’ll just have to suck it up and enjoy those delightful, toxic fumes.

As is usually the case with these sorts of establishments, the bar was packed with nothing but men over 50 (plus us) cooing over the female Asian staff, who all looked like they were auditioning for a Britney Spears music video. Laissez-faire seems to be in full effect: cigars, graffiti, dice games, whiskey shots out of plastic bottles that just say “whiskey” on the label, cheap beer, snuff pipes, and free bags of Orville Redenbacher. ‘Nuff said.

RJ’s Sports Bar (701 Geary): Korean women behind the bar (it seems to be Bush corridor de rigueur) who speak excellent Spanish and have incredible dance moves (don’t ask me how I know, but this was the biggest surprise of all). Another bar that allows indoor smoking, despite a sticker, in plain sight, that contradicts such actions. A man came in and requested that the bartender fill up his empty Gatorade bottle with Anchor Steam for $5, and without a second thought, that call was answered.

High Tide Lounge (600 Geary): Free food ranging from kimchi, chicken wings, and sushi rolls to stuffed peppers, pad Thai, chow mein, and something that resembled an egg roll but looked more like a snuffed out cigar. I didn’t ask questions. In the midst of our revels, we happened upon a petite woman taking a little catnap in the corner of the bar. Despite sleeping on a cold linoleum floor, she looked quite peaceful. Definitely not dead, though … we checked her pulse.