If the term "hotel bar" makes you think of a piano lounge singer and lonely business men buying drinks for ladies of the evening, then you haven't reckoned with San Francisco's own Hotel Utah Saloon, a raucous South of Market watering hole and kitchen popular with locals and offering live music or other entertainment seven nights a week in a very intimate space with a state-of-the-art sound system. Over a century old, the ornate, rustic space recalls its origins as a waterfront tavern in its aged wood structure with its glorious mahogany bar, down-to-earth grub and hard drinks.
The food is typical pub fare with the multi-culti SF Bay Area influence evident in items like the Utah's Famous Hummus and the Quesadilla. They do make a veggie burger, but for the most part the menu caters to the diner who loves animals, but mostly when they’re on his plate not frolicking in the fields.
There are twelve beers on tap and a handful of select wines, but two-fisted drinkers will want to take advantage of the full bar as the sailors and ladies who loved them no doubt did in the bar’s Barbary-Coast-era heyday.
The entertainment consists of musical acts big and small, from around the bay, the region, and the world; occasional comedy acts on a stage that has had a young Robin Williams perform on it; and a free weekly open mic night every Monday featuring the stars of tomorrow. Weekend brunches also are often accompanied by free music performances. Consult the bar’s website hotelutah.com for a calendar of events or just drop by 500 4th Street at Brannan and see what’s hopping.
Writer and bon vivant J. Eric Miller lives, loves, and laughs in San Francisco and its environs. Follow his further adventures at theupsanddownsofsanfrancisco.tumblr.com.