One of the most politically progressive towns in the country, the decidedly off-center college town of Arcata - home to Humboldt State University - has no specific gay bars, but the raffish Alibi dive bar and restaurant
(744 9th St., 707-822-3731) has a very popular following in the community. The bar's owner also ran Aunty Mo's, a gay bar in nearby Eureka that closed in April 2010, and the laid-back Alibi draws an eclectic, if eccentric crowd. The old-school bar serves a long list of martinis and foofy cocktails, including the bracing Naked Glacier (Stoli and peppermint schnapps in a sugar-rimmed glass), and a refreshing chambord margarita. There's a very impressive selection of beers, too, and the kitchen hearty diner-inspired fare throughout the day, from traditional Hangtown Fry (scrambled eggs with oysters, scallions, mushrooms, and bacon) and Belgian waffles at breakfast to towering burgers, ahi sandwiches, tofu wraps, and seafood grills later in the day.
Note that as of summer 2010, there was talk that the Alibi would open a second branch in Eureka in the space formerly occupied by Aunty Mo's gay bar. Also, the original Alibi in Arcata is soon to go under the knife, as the ownership is planning a major renovation that includes expanding into the empty lot next door and adding a second floor. The Alibi's retro-hip decor will be spruced up but preserved.