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Which San Francisco watering holes best reflect their neighborhoods? - Part II

Which San Francisco watering holes best reflect their neighborhood?
Which San Francisco watering holes best reflect their neighborhood?
Tod Regan

If it can be said that you are what you eat, can’t you also argue that, you are where you drink? The challenge here is to find the one watering hole in each neighborhood that best defines that neighborhood’s character; it’s innate personality, the place that just really reflects the locals who live there. Check out our picks in part I here.

We want to know, which watering holes do YOU think best define their neighborhoods?

Here are our picks for the Financial District and the North Panhandle:

The Financial District – A near-mythic land of business suits, Bluetooth’s (blueteeth?) and hostile takeovers, the Financial District appears destined to forever reside beneath the shadow of corporate America. One need only seek out a local watering hole to see this reality driven home - with an exclamation point. Expensive cocktail lounges sporting backless leather couches and swanky hotel bars are the norm here. Look deeper though, and you may notice this neighborhood is more that Hugo Boss suits and Zara shoes. There’s history here. Sure, much of the FiDi is built on landfill, but it’s what’s underneath all that landfill that’s interesting, like Gold Rush ships, for example. And, perhaps thanks to the Academy of Art and the Art Institute campuses, there’s actually a fairly burgeoning art scene downtown. It’s an area that really can’t be claimed by any one social group.

Our pick that best reflects the neighborhood? The House of Shields. It’s got history (dating back to 1908), and it’s just enough fancy for a suit but not so ornate that a pair of Chuck Taylor’s and a messenger bag would look out of place. It’s a bar where you’re about as likely to toss back a few while seated next to a corporate attorney as you are to a web developer or an art student. Plus, the recent change in ownership fits in nicely with the culture of the neighborhood, which is to say, the Financial District is no stranger to savvy take-over’s, hostile or otherwise.

The North Panhandle – A neighborhood long touted as “up and coming” and “the next Mission” (probably by real-estate developers), the North Panhandle has undergone some massive changes in the last decade. Abbreviated as NOPA by some, this diverse neighborhood caters to just about everyone. Popeye’s Chicken nestled up against chic (ish) dining. And while the relatively affordable rents and central location have made it popular with young people in recent years, the promise of a Mission-level of “cool” never really materialized in this ever-changing, locals-only neighborhood. Which is why, much as it’s been hyped, you’ve probably never been there.

Our pick that best reflects the neighborhood? Mini Bar – Part art gallery, part cocktail lounge, this kind of hip (but not too hip) neighborhood bar is in a constant state of flux with an ever-changing art display. Too small to really be a destination bar, Mini Bar isn’t exactly a “scene”. A reflection of neighborhood itself, Mini Bar is cool (but not too cool), caters to a mostly local crowd and chances are, while you may have heard of it, you’ve never actually been there.

Which watering holes do YOU think best reflect their neighborhoods? We want to hear from you! Leave a COMMENT below with your picks and we'll check them out and maybe even feature them in this series.


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