futuristic-looking, mod restaurant and lounge along an uber-queer stretch of Market Street in the Castro, Lime can be counted on for delicious cocktails (and especially lively happy hours) - try the White Cosmo with Citron vodka, white cranberry juice, and lime, or the Kaffir Lime gimlet, a house specialty. It's open till midnight most evenings, and till 1 a.m. on weekends. Lime is very much a place to see and be seen, the the kitchen turns out very good contemporary American chow, too.
The number of popular, full-time lesbian bars in the world has shrunken steadily over the years, but this very cool, welcoming little bar with hardwood floors, a funky old chandelier, a pool table, and ruby-red walls pulls in a diverse (if somewhat youthful) crowd. Join the crowd in watching L Word and other queer faves, and partake of the steady mix of themed music and revelry nights. This bar in the trendy Mission District also hosts art exhibits from time to time. The Lexington bills itself "your friendly neighborhood dyke bar", and...well...that's exactly what it is.
Veterans of San Francisco's Folsom Street-area leather and bear scene have long been cruising and carousing at the Lone Star, which remains somewhat infamous for its "friendly" trough urinal in the men's room. Highlights here include the generous drink specials, good-size back patio, and attractively designed interior, which was redone when new owners took over a couple of eyars ago.
You won't find many better spots for people-watching in the Castro than the extensive balconies at the aptly named Lookout bar - for years it was a different bar called the Metro. This airy and open space with a bit of a sport-bar theme has packed happy hours, serves tasty pizza (all-you-can-eat on Tuesdays), and even presents a pretty fun drag-show on Wednesdays. Although the Lookout pulls in a good mix of guys throughout the night, it's especially popular in the afternoon and early evening. The outdoor balconies overlook Market Street, where you'll also find a number of nice restaurants and shops nearby.
Like Wild West Side in Bernal Heights, Trax in the Haight, and other San Francisco hangouts that are the lone queer hangouts in their particular neighborhoods, Marlena's attracts a catch-all of the city's LGBT community as well as many local straights. It's been a fixture on Hayes Street for years, long before the surrounding Hayes Valley neighborhood truly came into its own as a hot spot for indie-dining and shopping. As this area near Civic Center and the Opera House - midway between the Castro and downtown - has become more popular, sure enough, Marlena's has developed a much more devoted following. Best night: Saturdays, for the Hayes Valley Follies at Marlena's - drag, dancing, singing, and no cover charge!
An elegant little piano cabaret near where the U.S. 101 freeway drops down to Market Street on the edge of SoMa, Hayes Valley, the Mission, and a few other converging neighborhoods, Martuni's draws big crowds after downtown theaters let out, for cocktails before dinner in any of the aforementioned areas, for late-night sing-alongs held by patrons happily sloshed on the bar's stellar martinis and cosmos, for karaoke...well, you get thie idea. There's almost always something fun going on here, and the crowd is completely eclectic and quite welcoming. The talent is impressive, too, whether it's jazz standards or showtunes.
What started out as a somewhat sleepy neighborhood bar has developed into a very popular but still neighborhood-y gay hangout that draws a fun and varied crowd, including guys and more than a few women of all ages, styles, and looks. It's a terrific conversation bar set along the Castro's bustling Church Street Corridor, close to the Mission and Hayes Valley, and a few other cool gay hangouts, such as Blackbird and Bar on Church. There's a lovely garden patio out back with ample seating, and the long bar inside is the perfect place to chat with friends or make new ones. Leave your attitude at home - this is one of the city's friendliest gay bars.