Best Bar Food (place), Best Sports Bar
Since its debut in late November Hi Tops has been an instant hit, and it gained international fame when a photo of a gay couple making out at the bar during a 49ers playoff game landed in Sports Illustrated 's special Super Bowl issue. Promoted as the first real LGBT sports bar in the city's gayborhood, it replaced Lime restaurant, despised for its Sunday bottomless Mimosa's that left diners, gay and straight alike, inebriated.
A mixed clientele can still be found at the upper Market Street hangout, but the focus is no longer on drinking to excess on a weekend day. Instead, patrons are more likely to be glued to the TV screens watching their favorite sports teams.
Even non-sports fans have been flocking to try out the well-reviewed menu at the bar. As one Yelper hooked on the place raved online, the choices include "really good gluten-free options for me, and even some good bar eats for my vegetarian partner."
Hi Tops, 2247 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 551-2500. http://hitopssf.com/.
Best Mixed Drink, Best Gay/Gay-Friendly Bar
Perhaps it's the Butler, a blend of Earl Grey infused vodka, Algarvinha Almond, Cassis and lemon, ready to greet you at the bar? Or maybe it's the warm embrace of the Drunken Sailor, a mix of El Dorado spiced rum, Creme de Cacao, Dry Curacao, orange, and cream?
The answers weren't specific on which best mixed drink tickled respondents' fancies, but they did know it is served at Blackbird. B.A.R. readers also named the watering hole with an English sensibility this year as the best gay/gay-friendly bar.
Be adventurous and order one of the bar's unique signature cocktails. For at Blackbird the atmosphere is relaxed but the liquor connoisseurship is taken seriously.
Blackbird, 2124 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 503-0630. http://www.blackbirdbar.com.
Best Place to Meet Men
B.A.R. readers out on the prowl for a mate have one place in mind, 440 Castro. Yes, distractions await those who enter this bar, whose address doubles as a name, such as the long-running Monday underwear nights or the special Sundays geared to hairy men.
But those looking for a man – whether hirsute or just scruffy – will no doubt find a plethora of potential paramours at this gayborhood hangout.
440 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-8732. http://www.the440.com.
Best Place to Meet Women
The Lexington Club – known simply as the Lex by locals – asks patrons to this Mission district bar one question: Do you like beer and boobs? If the answer is yes, then be sure to check out its $10 beer busts.
Long the pre-eminent "friendly neighborhood dyke bar" in San Francisco, the Lexington is one of the few remaining establishments from when Valencia Street was a Sapphic wonderland. Today it remains a welcoming place for women who love women to meet and relax.
Lexington Club, 3464 19th Street, San Francisco, (415) 863-2052. http://www.lexingtonclub.com/.
Best Place to Meet Transgender People
Head over to the Polk Gulch to find Diva's, once again voted the best bar to strike up a friendship with a transgender person. Whether it is one of the performers on stage, or a fellow customer in the audience, the patrons here are always friendly and out to have fun.
Diva's, 1081 Post Street, San Francisco, (415) 474-3482. http://www.divassf.com.
Best Dance Floor
The line up the block on a weekend night is a testament to the popularity of Badlands, perennially picked by B.A.R. readers as the place to go to show off your dance moves. The Castro establishment packs in locals and out-of-towners onto its circular dance floor, surrounded by a video wall. The latest pop tunes and dance songs dominate the play list seven nights a week.
Badlands, 4121 18th Street, San Francisco, (415) 626-9320. http://www.sfbadlands.com.
Best Bar with a Patio, Best Bar with a Pool Table
Since 1980 the Pilsner Inn has welcomed thirsty patrons to its bar, famous for its selection of 30 draft beers on tap. Locals also know on sunny days to head to this Church Street hangout for its sizeable outdoor patio.
And any day of the week, rain or shine, pool mavens can be found here aiming for the corner pocket as they show off their skills.
Pilsner Inn, 225 Church Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-7058. http://www.pilsnerinn.com/.
Best Theme Night
Those in the know about the city's best "down, dirty, and cruisy" party can be found Tuesday nights starting at 10 p.m. at Busted, a weekly event held by off-the-beaten-path gay hangout Truck. The speakeasy vibe comes complete with the need to whisper a secret password to enter. Our lips are sealed, so you'll need to do your own investigation into how to gain access.
Truck, 1900 Folsom Street, San Francisco, (415) 252-0306. http://www.trucksf.com.