Monday, October 20, 2008

Bar Review: The Knockout and El Rio

Thanks to a bit of miscommunication this past Saturday the boyfriend and I, along with a couple other friends, wound up going to both The Knockout and El Rio waaaaay down on Mission Street. The occasion was another friend’s birthday, which was originally supposed to be at The Knockout, but an $8 cover for some benefit, along with a couple really loud bands, convinced them to move things to El Rio. Unfortunately, nobody sent us a text or called us before we wound up paying cover and witnessing a truly hideous fashion show.

The Knockout could most succinctly be described as a hipster dive bar, decorated with mug shots and a patina of grime. There is a long bar as you enter, and another bar-like area with a drinks shelf and a brass foot rail where you can stand and look into the adjoining room, which features a stage. Live shows are apparently one of the big attractions here, though we caught only the end of somebody doing some decent beat-boxing before we were treated to a “fashion show.” When Richard Hell and the Voidoids “Blank Generation” started up over the PA I really had to laugh – it’s hard to think of a single song that could be so self-congratulatory and so amazingly cliché at the same time. The fashion, for the women at least, consisted of variations of black-on-blue plaid, but one of my companions put it best: “all these outfits seem designed to make the women look terrific, and the guys look like assholes.” About that time we got a text that we should rendezvous with the rest of our pack up the street, just in time to save us from any more hipster silliness, but before I got to try out the signature root beer float cocktail.

El Rio had a pretty high hipster quotient as well, but was definitely higher up on the bar evolutionary ladder. It also has a stage area, but additionally boasts one of the nicest patios I’ve seen in San Francisco, and when a band did take the stage, you could still hang out in the bar and have a conversation. I liked the warm lighting and the overall vibe of the bar, but was disappointed that they didn’t seem to have any cocktail specials of the sort found at The Knockout.

Since El Rio is only a few blocks from Kitty’s place I think it may become a destination for when I’m down at that end of the Mission; any place where I can sit outside and have a drink and a smoke is a winner in my book.

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