Public House - Review
General Appearance: I'll say this right up front: Toronado is not pretty. It's located on a busy street in the Haight district of San Francisco, where the poor and dirty come to play. It's not that I have anything against the people who frequent the area, it's just that I prefer to drink with people that share my personal standards for hygiene. Toronado is dark, crowded, and generally a pain in the ass to visit, but as with most things in life, there is usually a reason why places become that way. Pizza on the left, Shawerma on the right, head shops up the wazoo (the interest within lies not with items for purchase but with the fabulous assortment of freaks), and a number of other hip bars within spitting distance all make braving the dirt and dank worth the effort.
General Atmosphere: LOUD, crowded, hot, smoky (they do NOT enforce the new California smoking law - although their website specifically states that cigar smokers are not welcome, but does not mention cigarettes - unexplained hypocrisy?), interesting, hip, cool. It's not the kind of place you go to relax, it's not the kind of place you go to talk, and it's not the kind of place you go to meet Ms. Right. It IS however a place you go to drink beer, watch the game, and perhaps taunt the lesbians.
Beer Selection: This is the only area where Toronado gets a god-damn no.1 A-plus. They have 115 beers available, 45 of those are on draft. HUGE kudos to Toronado for carrying Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot (especially this time of year - they must have been hoarding it). They carry Belgian ales, English Ales, and damn near every style of beer you could want (even the dreaded hefeweizen). In the unthinkable event that they drop the ball in this department and reduce their fantastic selection, I predict that doom and pestilence will not be far behind.
Munchies: No munchies, but I suggest Ali Baba's Cave just up the street.
Points of Interest: It's a toss up between playing "Name That Smell" as you walk down the street, or wading through the pierced and tattooed teenagers that panhandle on the sidewalk.
Complaints: Remember the scene in the movie Tainspotting, where Ewan MacGregor goes into the toilet? Okay, it's not that bad at Toronado, but my recommendation is to take your toilete before you leave the house. It's just my opinion, of course, but I firmly believe that a pub can be hip, cool, and cater to the 20-something crowd, and STILL maintain nice facilities. There are examples of this, and I would be happy to show them to the owners of Toronado. Also, they should immediately fire any bartender that allows smoking on the premises. It's against the law, and if I lit up my pipe, they would throw me out in a heartbeat. What's the point of have all that great beer, just to have the experience ruined by some low grade semi-moron who wants to stink up the place?
Location: Toronado is located at 547 Haight San Francisco, CA in the Haight District (Haight-Ashbury for you out-of-towners). The phone # is (415) 863-276, and the bar is open 11:30am to 2:00am daily. You can Visit their website at www.toronado.com