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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#2070 - Specs, San Francisco - 2/26/2013

I don't know how you could really compare a place like this to a place like, say, Smugglers Cove, but this bar is probably my favorite in San Francisco. It is officially named Specs' Twelve Adler Museum Cafe. In various places I have read that it has been an Arab themed place with bellydancing, a Chinese joss house, a speakeasy, a lesbian bar, jazz club, a place made to look like a bull ring, and a bohemian art bar. In 1968 Specs Simmons, an old Boston sheetmetal worker cum political activist, took over the place and filled it with oddball memorabilia. It has a reputation for attracting a range of characters, although they no longer include the girls from the old strip club upstairs, and as if cued for some historical re-enactment on this slow Tuesday evening, one fellow set to playing the old stand-up piano while a Fagin sort of character nodded his beard and top hot sleepily at the corner table.



Simmon's daughter has made a nice little short film on Specs himself, and though I did not meet him, one imagines that perhaps Specs' gritty personality (along with the fairly inconspicuous entrance) keeps the place seeming genuine, rather than gentrifying into some overly precious tourist attraction. And while it seems to host various characters of modest means, it feels a bit too literate and worldly to be classified as a great dive. But like most of the very best of bars, it is both instantly welcoming and not exactly like any other bar in the world.


12 Saroyan Pl, San Francisco - (415) 421-4112                                  
Est. 1968
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