Charleston: The Ultimate Local's Guide
There are days when it’s fun to stay out late in the hopes of meeting someone (hangover be damned) and then there are days when you want a drink or two. Where the possibility of conversation with an attractive stranger is very real, but you also need to go home, catch up on your DVR, and get a good night’s sleep. On those days, head to the Americano at the Hotel Vitale for happy hour. The spacious indoor/outdoor bar is consistently packed with a well-dressed (or, at least wearing outfits that look bizarrely corporate in this casual town) crowd that is ready to forget the workday and concentrate on finding someone to go to dinner with next week. And, even if that doesn’t happen for you, the views of the Bay Bridge and Ferry Building from the heated patio still make this spot a great place to unwind with a drink.
If you walk into Balboa Cafe during the day when ladies are lunching with shopping bags at their feet and white wine in their hand, and older neighborhood residents are catching up over filet mignon and martinis, it’s hard to imagine the 100+ year old bar and restaurant as a place to meet single people. But when the sun goes down, the drinks have been flowing for a few hours, and the final dinner plates have been returned to the kitchen, that’s exactly what happens. There’s always a mix of locals and out-of-towners, and everyone understands that if you’re in the bar area, you’re open to chatting (at least for a couple of minutes while everyone feels each other out). And yes, Balboa has a weel-eanred reputation as a cougar hangout, but that also means there are always people in their 20s and 30s there as well. After all, a cougar doesn’t go to the desert to hunt.
Pool tables, skee ball, darts, foosball, cheap drinks, the game on the TV, and even beer pong in the back. Bar None is like the basement of a frat house in all ways. Everyone is there to have fun; there’s always someone who’s way too sloppy; and even the pickiest of people looking to hook up are willing to lower their standards when the bartender shouts “last call.”
El Rio is an LGBTQ+ neighborhood bar that is active in promoting social change, supporting local artists and musicians, and serving as a community hub. It’s also a fantastic venue to meet people of all sexual preferences with good vibes and open minds. That’s just what happens when the people behind a bar have their hearts in the right place and the space has a gorgeous backyard and deck, a pool table and shuffleboard, amazing live performances, and fantastic drink specials. El Rio isn’t necessarily a bar you to go to pick up people; rather, it’s a bar where you meet people you actually want to hang out with again.
It’s an absolute cliché that one of SF’s only country-western bars is also one of its biggest hookup bars, but clichés exist for a reason and, in the case of Jaxson, that includes girls screeching along to Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” at the top of their lungs, people who may or may not know how to line dance attempting to do just that, well drinks in plastic cups, people wearing cowboy boots, and people looking to knock boots with people wearing cowboy boots. Buck up because by the end of the night, everything about this bar is pretty sloppy, but you’re the one who climbed in the saddle, so you better be ready for the ride.
This popular bar on the corner Divisadero and Fell features exhibits from both emerging and established artists, which is obviously a draw, but it’s the rotating nightly themes, DJ sets, and wild dance floor that make this an excellent place to meet someone. Go on Mondays for Motown, Tuesdays for karaoke, or Sunday afternoons for open mic. In a town full of awkward people walking around with large doses of self-consciousness, it’s refreshing to have a couple of drinks in a place where everyone seems to check that stuff at the door.
There’s really nothing that special about The Page. It’s an average bar with exposed brick walls, animal heads on the wall, foosball and a pool table in the back, and a good beer list--you know, the kind of place you go to with friends when you just want to chill and are absolutely not trying to talk to anyone, much less take them home. The kind of place you go wearing an old sweatshirt and underwear that shouldn’t even still be in rotation. Where you say you’re just going to have one or two and then definitely come home and tackle that pile of dirty dishes and finally change your sheets. Which, as we all know, is exactly the kind of place you go and end up talking to a stranger for hours who is actually cool and definitely wants to go back to your place. Forget cleaning before you go or wearing underwear without holes. If you plan for it, it’ll never happen. Those are just the rules of the magic that is meeting someone at The Page.