Maybe I’m simple-minded, but I enjoy the drunken graffiti littering the bathroom walls of San Francisco’s Toronado. I had a good buzz going when I saw this back in September and even considered doing a companion piece showing my stomach lining loving some Russian River sour beers. Toronado is one of my favorite places to drink, even though it seems to be attracting more of the beer snob crowd in the last year or two. The perfect time to show up is early afternoon on a weekday. It’s rarely crowded and you can sit at the bar, have a few and usually have an interesting conversation with a perfect stranger.
Oh, one other thing I should mention: I disagree with the opinion of many (including one of my beer-blogging peers) that Toronado’s barkeeps are too surly. Yeah, the first time I walked into the place, I asked a question about a beer and got a sneer followed by a sample slammed down on the bar. I didn’t take it personally. Any drinker knows that you have to feel a place out, figure out how they do things. Just because the Toronado has a world-class beer selection doesn’t mean the bartenders have an obligation to stroke your balls and wax eloquent about the flavor profile of the beers on tap. It took me all of two minutes to size things up and realize it’s the kind of bar where you come strong–have cash out, make eye contact and say what you want when the bartender looks your way. I do that and I’ve been treated just fine–sometimes better than fine. I understand people like to have their egos massaged, but I’m glad Toronado isn’t that kind of place.