My interest in going to Toronado Pub was piqued when the first review I read mentioned the “extremely nude bartenders” (strangely it was a one-star review), until upon closer inspection I realized that I had misread the review, which actually referred to the extremely rude bartenders. Oh well, easy come, easy go. And rude bartenders? In a Lower Haight dive bar? Go figure.
This isn’t really a dive bar, anyway (at least not anymore), but more of a museum of dive bars. Think Planet Hollywood, but with more than forty beers on tap and stickier floors. With its saloon-style half-doors, its tchotchkes and memorabilia adorning every available surface, but a copious and meticulous selection of brews, Toronado is what an increasing number of other dive bars in San Francisco have become—a carefully cultivated exception amidst the gentrification that surrounds it.
The clientele, largely made up of young tech workers, is happy to pay for bad service, so eager are they to experience an authentic hole-in-the-wall and prove to themselves that, despite spending all day being cogs in corporate machines, they are in actuality genuine bad-asses.
The upside is that most beer-lovers will leave here with their thirst satisfied, and the indifferent attitude of the staff includes allowing patrons to bring in food from any of the similarly lowlife restaurants that populate the surrounding neighborhood. This is, therefore, the perfect spot to bring parents, straight-laced friends, and out-of-towners to impress them with one’s street savvy without there being any actual danger of getting one’s throat cut.
Explorer J. Eric Miller crash-landed on the alien world of San Francisco in the last millennium. Trapped in a world he never imagined, he seeks escape in his experience of living. Read more about it at: theupsanddownsofsanfrancisco.tumblr.com