Tradition Bar San Francisco

Tradition Bar San Francisco

Tradition Bar San Francisco

The reputation of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District precedes itself. It’s traditionally been the roughest neighbourhood in the city, with its high crime rates and drug use.

But as with the seedier area of most cosmopolitan cities, it’s becoming gentrified.

There’s a portion of the San Francisco community that is outraged over the gentrification. It always reminds me of Judith Beveridge’s poem Streets of Chippendale, about the gentrification of the Redfern area in Sydney, Australia.

I don’t have a strong opinion on gentrification, but do wonder if we had better housing options for the homeless population (in both San Francisco and Sydney), perhaps it wouldn’t be such a social issue.

We find ourselves walking through the Tenderloin on a Wednesday night to find Tradition, a trendy speak-easy style bar, where we’re meeting our friend Mike.

And impressively, it does give off a great speak-easy vibe (aside from the obvious front entrance, of course). The bouncer who lets us in has a fantastic pin striped suit and hat, and a smile. Fancy that, a friendly bouncer!

Tradition has booths to seat 2-10 people. Mike’s made reservations, so we’re seated in one of the 4 person booths.

Each booth reminds me of a teeny-tiny salon, with their wooden swinging doors. Our booth is tiny, but surprisingly comfy once you’re in.

Tradition Bar San Francisco

Though, you’d want to make sure you liked the people you were seated next to if you were in one our size!

The music is an eclectic mix of obscure disco and 60s tracks, mixed in with some newer alt pop stuff. It’s good for inoffensive background music, and is at the right level where you can actually have a conversation.

Our waitress is polite and efficient with our menus, orders, and drinks.

The menus are a work of art themselves, but a bit tricky with my poor eyesight and the sexy dimmed lighting in the booths.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good Pimms cup, and I order one a ltitle apprehensively. So many of them are done so badly, but a good one really hits the spot.

This one is delicious and not overly fizzy. The cucumber and mint is lovely and refreshing, but I would have liked some fruit in it, like a strawberry and a lemon or orange slice along with the cuce and mint.

Tradition Bar San Francisco

Mike orders something with the word “Zombie” in it and it comes out in an ornately carved wooden looking mug. It looks like it would be at home in a tiki bar in Florida.

I have a sip and on my second round, order one for myself. It takes me a while to get through and I must admit to feeling a little tanked after a whole two drinks.

North Nomad orders a bourbon based drink  and he’s not too fussed on the first, but adores the second drink he tries.

The funniest part of the night is when Mike realises we’re not trendy bar patrons. “We could have gone to a dive bar!” he says, with a little remorse. He tells us about a few other trendy speak-easy style bars in San Francisco, including one which had been booked out for the night and required a password to get into.

Tradition Bar San Francisco

After our drinks are done, we head off to Soul Groove around the corner for a bite to eat.

Our walk back to the Hilton after our night is done is entertaining. A hobo stops us and we can’t quite figure out what he’s after.

He rants at us a stream of information about local bars, telling us the password to enter the exclusive speakeasy bar. We comment later it can’t be too exclusive if the local hobo knows it!

Have you been to a dodgy area in a nice city? What sort of experience did you have?


Location: 441 Jones Street, Tenderloin District, San Francisco

Opening Hours: 6 Days a week from 6pm-2am; closed on Sunday.

Contact Details: 415.474.228

*First image in this post has been used from Tradition’s website*

Tradition on Urbanspoon

You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.

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2 thoughts on “Tradition Bar San Francisco

    • Pimms Cups are just delicious, Jo. They are very popular in England and Australia. I had a funny time in Singapore about 7 or 8 years ago when I ordered one, and they just gave me Pimms neat. It was disgusting! But they didn’t quite understand that it was a cocktail…

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