Tuesday, July 8, 2008


1. (noun) The spirit of the time; the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation
2. A San Francisco dive bar that doesn't need your praise to be cool.

Zeitgeist is a quintessential dive bar. It's located under a freeway, the walls are covered in graffiti, rocker memorabilia, bumper stickers abd the bathrooms are either porto potty horrors or badly lit closets of questionable sanitation. Furthermore, the staff seems to display only two moods, frantically busy or surly. And yet, Zeitgeist is probably one of the more beloved institutions in the city. This is a bar that locals go to, and they don't need your shit or your attitude if you plan to bring it.

Those who are open minded and patient can find a silver mine of lining underneath the dark cloud exterior. For one thing, Zeitgeist boasts a very large selection of beers on tap. They also are well known for making one of the best bloody marys this side of the country. Even better, they're on the cheaper end of the spectrum for booze in the city and pitchers (big glass ones, not the sissy plastic water pitchers you find in pizza places) seem to range between $10-$12 bucks. The place serves some delicious freshly grilled bbq for the cheap, although instead of fries they're served with grilled potatoes that always seem slightly undercooked. The biggest draw, however seems to be the large outdoor beer garden, where at any given time during the spring and summer seasons you'll find college kids, hipsters, bikers, bike couriers, and just whoever chilling outside with their friends over several pitchers of ale. It's like a large no stress social gathering.

Quirkier features of the place are $30 rooms you can rent per night up above that claim to be clean, though I honestly have never heard of anyone ever renting a room upstairs nor could imagine anyone wanting to sleep above the cacophony of noisy drunks, and the Mission District Tamale Lady. The Tamale Lady is somewhat of a local hero, dispensing cheap tamale treasures around the streets of the Mission District and Zeitgeist is her headquarters. At any given night cries of "The Tamale Lady" can be heard and gaggles of hipsters will line up around her as if she's bringing manna from heaven. If I were to ever give Zeitgeist a score, I'd give it a solid 4 Gomorrahs, minus one for the horrors of the bathroom I've had to endure there while drinking a pitcher of pear cider by myself, but it's Zeitgeist. They don't need my praise.

Zeitgeist is located on the corner of Valencia and Duboce, under the freeway. Parking is decent, the 16th Street BART is close by, and they only take cash so bring lots.

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