Top 10 Neon Signs in San Francisco

Broadway, San Francisco. Photo from Thomas Hawk

There is nothing in the world quite like a neon sign. Sometimes big and other times small, they tend to represent the most obvious form of advertising in that they’re the best attention getters. I’m more likely to go to a place with a neon sign, since I adore them. The sad part is that most of them are dying with places of yesterday. Along Mission Street, many of the old movie theatres and playhouses still have the larger-than-life marquees up, but time has forgotten the illuminations of those little colored lights. Here are my top 10 favorite neon signs in the city. Be sure to catch them before they’re extinct!

photo from HotelsByCity.net

1.  Castro Theatre :A total classic. Since its revamp after the Milk filming, its been shining brighter both day and night. A total must-see.

photo by Keith C. from yelp

2.  Roxie Theatre: The red glow of this light is super pleasing when bar hopping on 16th and Valencia. Plus, the Roxie shows some of the most badass movies for cheap.

3.  Doc’s Clock: I’ve never actually been to this bar before, but I always see the neon sign when I’m on Mission and I think its one of the most amazing things ever.

photo from CoastNews.com

4.  High Tide: Stu fucking loves this place. A definite bar to keep in the lineup, plus, the neon sign is a great thing to see when stumbling out and getting drunk for under a buck.

5.  Broadway Corridor: Strippers have never looked so lit up and classy.

6.  Whiz Burgers: This huge sign that beckons from S. Van Ness makes eating super-cheap and yummy burgers a pleasure under its glowing beams.

7.  Alhambra Theatre: Yeah, I know, this part of town is bouge-y and the fucking theatre was turned into a Crunch gym, but that’s no reason to not include it on this list. I remember getting drunk at the Buccaneer and standing underneath the sign for about 20 minutes after I left the bar.

8.  All Star Donuts on Chestnut: This is a new favorite of mine. There are so many All-Star donut places in the city, but this one beats them all with its neon awesomeness.

photo from likeme.net

9.  Golden Boy Pizza: Its all about the finger. And cheap late night pizza with a side of the Stones.  Mick would approve.

10.  500 Club: I think it would be kind of sacrilege to not include this place. Probably one of the best glasses that I’ve ever seen on a neon sign.

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About the author

Monica Miller - The Intern

Ms. Miller was born in San Diego, CA to one lesbian mother and one righteous, cheap father. Currently, she is enrolled at San Francisco State University for a B.A. in Journalism and the approximate completion date is around 2015. She has worked for many papers in the Bay Area, including the Oakland Tribune and the San Mateo Country Times and is currently the city editor at one of the most underappreciated publications in SF, the Golden Gate [X]press. Though she may find bargains aplenty, it only stems from the necessity of never landing an actual job and working for hacks [like Stuart.] With intelligence, style, poise, bite, and honesty, she will rip your heart out; but not before writing some awesome, poignant shit. This year, she is looking forward to bigger and better things such as: trying to get paid for a gig, actually finding a date that isn't a loser or fucking crazy, not calling her parents when hungover and bringing you the best of the 7x7 everyday of the week. [By the way, I wasn't kidding about the date thing; if you love food, booze and shoegaze, get at me.]

12 Comments

  1. Janice says:

    Don’t forget the Huntington Hotel’s neon sign. Beacon of Nob Hill.

  2. johnny0 says:

    Don’t forget Drugs + BBQ. That gets points if only for sheer, utter contrast.

  3. That is a good one! But there are often drugs of some kind at my bbqs :)

  4. keane says:

    Drugs + BBQ was also the first one that came to my mind.

  5. Thomas Wood says:

    High Tide has been busted for a while now.

  6. Thomas Wood says:

    No kidding. I live just below the Huntington and use it as a beacon to tell which way home is.

  7. Pennidreadful says:

    I am also a fan of the Tad’s Steaks sign.

  8. Anonymous says:

    youve never been to docs clock?
    missed out on some kick/broke-ass parties!

  9. JJ says:

    I love the” high tide cocktails” neon sign! Great size and that iconic look!!!!

  10. Neon says:

    That martini glass in the 500 club sign does look real great,well designed!!!

  11. Neon signs says:

    The Castro sign is a great example of an iconic neon sign!! Great colors and design!!

  12. sasha says:

    How have you never been to Doc’s Clock? Get over there ASAP!

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