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This former Mission dive (Belinda's, we hardly knew ye) has taken a sudden turn for the hip. New owners transformed the tiny space into a den of droll anachronistic culture, where vintage lamps cast a subtle glow over a collection of thrift-shop paintings, taxidermy animal heads, and half-quaint/half-quirky retro tchotchkes. You might find a local musician warming the keys of the electric organ in the corner, or perhaps a solo bluesman blowing on his harp, but otherwise the soundtrack comes via a dusty old record player: simply flip through the repurposed library card catalog to find the title of your favorite LP of folksy Americana, classic jazz, trad Latin, tropical exotica, or "Novelty and Beyond," then tell the bartender to slap that platter on the turntable. The most modern thing in the Royal Cuckoo is its signature drink menu - artisanal cocktails being very trendy and "now," of course - so despite the hipster clientele, don't come here looking for the latest high-tech fad. The Royal Cuckoo is the rotary telephone of San Francisco bars.
The first time we rolled into Bernal's newest bar, the Royal Cuckoo, we were not expecting to undergo a profound transformation. But that's exactly what happened. We were greeted by a harmonica-toting bouncer who then passed us on to a blind and drunk organ player. He chatted us up for about two hours while the mounted deer head and stuffed birds on the red walls stared deep into our souls. After PBR number five, the walls began melting and the gothic chandeliers went wiggly, so we made for... More »
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