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The Pilsner Inn: Sometimes You Feel Like Busting a Nut, Sometimes You Don’t

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There are few bars in the Castro that don’t give me the willies. While on vacation in San Francisco before moving here I went into Badlands. Innocently fooled by the large crowd, it got me thinking that it may be a somewhat respectable establishment. On my trek through the bar to the bathroom, my balls were grabbed three times. Upon finally getting there, I was a little more than disturbed to discover a pair of shitty underwear on the floor next to the urinal. That’s when I decided on two things. #1: Regardless of two for one drink specials, Badlands was disgusting. #2: I was moving to San Francisco.

After several nights of researching this neighborhood from top to bottom, I came across one place that caters to all walks of life. Not too gay, not too straight, but the perfect combination. Kind of like Kermit and Miss Piggy, but without all the inter-species breeding. The Pilsner Inn, the second stop on Broke-Ass Stuart’s Fifth Annual Pub Crawl, is a charming little dive bar sans the poopy drawers. No dancing, no Cyndi Lauper, no crotch fondling. Just a bunch of queers and breeders getting together to live in harmony and shoot some pool.

Voted the bar with the best beer selection in San Francisco by CitySearch, this place is definitely worth a meander if you’re into cold brews. Also, they have cheap nightly drink specials including Moose Drool Brown Ale for only $3.25 a pint on Saturday nights. I’m assuming that is a type of beer, but in this neighborhood it may be a good idea to check with the bartender.

Whether you’re into hot beef injections or ham wallets, there’s a little piece of The Pilsner that everyone can take home from the Castro (that doesn’t involve a cream or antibiotics). It’s a pretty enjoyable but dignified sports bar in which you can hang out without your wang out, and who knows, you may even switch teams.

The Pilsner Inn
225 Church St. [Castro]
[Near Market and Church]
(415) 621-7058

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Ryan Miller- Depleted Resource Analyst

Ryan Miller- Depleted Resource Analyst

Ryan Miller was raised in a small, quaint village named Portland, Oregon before spontaneously packing two suitcases, scrounging up $300 and catching a flight to San Francisco. Judging from his garbage, he is a connoisseur of Sun Chips and rather inexpensive wine. His personal goals are to refrain from hailing and accepting rides in random cars as well as greatly reduce the amount of hugs he provides for the homeless community. While touring Jamaica and prompted for his opinion on the prevalence of TB in third world countries, Miller eagerly asked, "They have Taco Bell here?"


  1. September 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

    “Voted the bar with the best beer selection in San Francisco by CitySearch”


    That said, The Pilsner does rock. But the beer selection is pretty awful.

  2. September 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

    It’s also close to Lucky 13 😀

  3. September 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I always play pinball there and nurse a beer while waiting for my table at Chow.

  4. September 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

    @Keane And Toronado. And Monk’s Kettle. And Toronado. … I’m seriously trying not to nerd rage about this.

    BTW, Pilsner Inn’s angled mirror above the through in the men’s room might be worth mentioning.

  5. Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)
    September 16, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    I have had many a fond memory of the Pil..even after they fired me. Ha!

  6. scott
    September 18, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Not to be a debbie downer, but it kinda seems like you are saying that the best gay bars have plenty of straight people to make it NOT be like badlands. Obviously badlands is fucking terrible and most gays won’t go outside of a fun sociological experiment.

    But because all straight bars are totally queer friendly, it’s about time straight people felt comfortable mingling in gay bars! hardy harr harr

    But in all seriousness, would you really hesitate to recommend a straight bar that didn’t seem to have many queer patrons?? Here it seems that what this gay bar has going for it is it’s straight clientele.


    • Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap
      September 18, 2009 at 9:51 am

      I’m straight and I feel comfortable in both straight and gay bars. Ryan, who wrote the piece, is gay and seems to feel comfortable in both as well. I don’t want to speak for Ryan, but my favorite bars have a good mix of gay, straight, and in between. They always seem to be the best representation of what San Francisco is.

      And truthfully, the only bars we hesitate to recommend are expensive bars. Most of the bars we write about are mixed, but we’ve also covered exclusively gay bars like Midnight Sun.

  7. Ryan Miller- Depleted Resource Analyst
    September 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I totally get what you’re saying, but that wasn’t my point. I like that it has a healthy mix of people, and I like going places where there is plenty of gay clientele, but that I can bring straight guy friends along without them getting molested.

    I also work in the Castro, so I’m pretty familiar with this neighborhood and it’s awesome that the gays have made it a main stomping ground, but in my opinion, the point of diversity isn’t to let certain communities thrive in certain areas. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of embracing diversity to divide people by what kind of diverse they are.

    That being said, I chose to write about The Pilsner because I’m big on patios and even bigger on alcohol.

  8. Scott
    September 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I think I understand you a little better now, and let it be known that I completely agree that Pilsner is a great bar and definitely one of my favorites in that neighborhood. But it never really crossed my mind that it’s mix of gay/straight is what contributed to the easy going atmosphere. I’ve found that at plenty of bars no matter the predominant sexuality of its patrons. As far as concern for our straight friends goes, I’m usually more concerned about my lady friends and whether or not they are going to get harassed. That usually happens at straight bars and on just about every street in the city (except for Castro, maybe). Luckily they can take care of themselves.

    I see your point about diversity and disagree, but that’s another conversation. I don’t live in the Castro or go there very often, and I think most queer people in the city are on a similar page. I’m not trying to be “above” the Castro, but it’s just a reminder that while it might be a destination location for gay tourists and a certain community (not just queer, but also male, white and middle/upper class) within San Francisco, it’s definitely not THE place for gays.

    I didn’t mean my comment above to be complaining just for complaining sakes or some kind of hyper PC rant, but sort of wanted to point out that as you know, there are plenty of really great places that might not necessarily be a great time for straight men, but also wouldn’t necessarily be better if they were. Just like a gay man shouldn’t be congratulated for being straight acting, I don’t think a gay bar should get a prize for being a nice stop for straights who don’t want to feel left out. It’s not that I think you would disagree with that but your article seemed to suggest otherwise.

    But thanks for contributing to a really great blog, I enjoy reading it everyday.