Friday, July 20, 2007

Bar Review: The Pilsner Inn

I have many fond memories of the Pilsner Inn at Church and Market - it was the first Castro bar I came to when I moved here in 1999, and it was the first Castro bar in which someone picked me up (leading to my first hung-over stagger home after waking up in my trick's apartment at 6AM). That night I met Warren, who continues to pour drinks there, and it's the bar I took my Mom to when she came to visit in 2003 and I wanted a place she could hang out and meet my friends.

All these things might give you some picture of the Pilsner as both a typical gay bar, scene of typical gay bar activities, and something akin to Cheers, where you can go and have a pleasant drink with your Mom. In fact, it seems that in the eight years I've been going there, the Pilsner has gone through a number of shifts, starting out as a bit of a hipster bar, then evolving into the waiting room for Chow, and now I notice large influx of lesbian clientele, mostly of the lipstick variety. I think this is largely reflective of the changing demographics of this neighborhood, where the Mission, Castro, and Duboce Triangle meet. Today the Pilsner seems to have more the contours of a neighborhood sports bar, and I don't fancy what my luck would be now if I sat at the bar and had a few drinks to myself (but maybe that's because I'm not quite the cute, young, fresh meat I was eight years ago).

Of course, the absolute best feature of the Pilsner, and the reason I've made it my standard watering hole, is the back patio area. This too has undergone significant improvement over the years and now, in warm weather and cold, it provides a comfortable garden spot to have a leisurely evening's tipple. This is where the younger crowd tends to hang out, and on more than one occasion the boyfriend and I have had pleasant conversation with strangers or someone we know.

The Pilsner doesn't have the mad action of a Castro bar, nor it is as overrun with boys and their hags as say, The Cafe or The Bar. You might meet someone here, chat them up, and then find yourself in a stranger's bed, but it's more likely that you'll come here with a group of friends to have a drink on your way elsewhere, or that you'll be in the neighborhood and decide to pop in for a beer and a smoke after work. Rather than a place to go and get your groove on, or troll for pick-up action, the Pilsner is that rare kind of bar that's simpley a place to go and relax.

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