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Less trafficked by tourists than Vesuvio's across the street - but just as cluttered - Specs' bar does indeed feel like a museum, with years of collected trinkets and tchotchkes covering every surface. If the mood strikes, sometimes bohemian old-timers will quietly prop themselves at the piano and plunk out a few instrumental tunes to add subliminal music to the constant hum of conversation.
Specs' leaves me with a bad feeling. Not for what it is, but because of my behavior there a few years ago. I was drinking a beer, and the bartender made a martini for someone else, poured it into its stemmed glass, and then poured the dregs... More »
It's rare to hear news of an old San Francisco establishment that doesn't end in "evicted over a rent dispute" or "replaced by a Starbucks." While ongoing development of the city is a mark of vitality... More »
Another great spot to hit up at Happy Hour or later in the evening. Full of interesting (read quirky) folks, tourists on occasion but mostly regulars from the hood. It's a good dive bar, so if you've done high falutin' at Tosca go around the corner to get your dive on.
Many a Monday and Tuesday night spent here when I wasn't bartending elsewhere in town. Invariably a group of Celtic musicians would come in and play and have a few pints. The bar staff is tolerant, but only just, of outsiders. Most are old merchant marines and if they like you well enough, they might share a story. Don't count on it though.
Specs' is one of the few bars left where you can ask for a martini and get a cold glass of gin and a little vermouth without having to answer a bunch of damn fool questions. That alone would qualify this venerable North Beach hideaway for übersaloon status, but there's so much more to the place: the old-salt pro-union merchant marine ambience; the Ahab-era slicing implement used to carve wedges of Swiss cheese; the eclectic neighborhood clientele, a genial melting pot of writers,... More »
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