Surviving San Francisco At Night as a Young Female Adult (featuring drinks at Naked Lunch)
Hey, welcome back readers!
Last weekend to celebrate our first week in grad school, my roommate and I decided to explore the San Francisco nightlife. San Francisco nightlife has a lot to offer from bar, clubs, shows to wonderful late night eateries. Originally we were going to hit up a beer pong tournament that was occurring at a bar, but we had some unexpected turns along the way and ended up at the Naked Lunch. The downfall to San Francisco nightlife is it is not the safest for two young adult females. While walking past a homeless man fight off, I knew I left the safety of my old college town. For my undergrad, I went to the University of California-Davis where bars were down one street and the scariest thing about roaming the streets was running into an ex-hookup. Lyft and Uber were cheap and worst case scenario, my downtown apartment was only a five-minute walk away. I want to continue exploring the nightlife of San Francisco however, here are some key tips I learned that night.
1. Always bring an extra layer
For me, a typical going out summer outfit consists of shorts and a cute top or a fun dress. Sure you can wear it in San Francisco, but be warned, you will be the victim of the freezing San Francisco air. San Francisco summer weather is the total opposite from the rest of the country so it is totally normal to go out in jeans and a jacket. Always bring another layer whether it is a jacket, scarf or even switching from those wedges to booties.
2. Know about the location of your destination
Some parts of San Francisco are beautiful and the atmosphere feels friendly and safe. Other areas are nothing, but terrifying. Especially when it's just two chicks and old men staring us up and down. When Roommate and I jumped off the Muni stop on Broadway, we were blinded by the flashing lights of strip clubs. Now I wasn't sure if men were checking us out because we looked confused or we looked like strippers. Overall if going to a new place, make sure you research the area so you know it's a safe place to go. Also, always have a good size group with you. No force is stronger than a freezing group of friends who are trying to race to the bar.
3. Things get weird on the Muni at night
My roommate and I's go to when it comes to transportation is the Muni. You can find a Muni line practically anywhere in the city. If there is a location, there is a Muni line or two that will take you there. Plus the benefits of being grad students is our university offers us passes that will allow us to ride the Muni for free**. We rode the Muni around 8 pm assuming that it would still be relatively "safe" to ride. Now, this is not to judge people who ride the Muni because every San Francisco resident has been on it once and most of the time everyone is respectable and sane. However, at night you will run into some oddballs who hop on Muni with you. On our ride up Haight street, we had the lucky opportunity to witness a woman poking at her swollen (and very infected) cyst on her leg, another woman cry/yelling at her phone, another man trying to tell us we are too cute to settle down and another trying to suspiciously ask where we are going. This is not to scare you from ever riding the Muni at night but do expect to see some unsavory people on the bus. Be respectful and civil, but remember you do not owe these people anything (including where you are going).
**we paid for a pass in our tuition so our muni rides can be covered all year long.
4. Be a bitch on the Streets
Save your "kill 'em with kindness", "don't judge a book by its cover", "a smile is the most contagious" crap out the window (for now). If he/she is not your friend, this is not the time to make a friend on the street. If a strange man (or woman) is asking if you are lost or if you want to go to a party, you do not owe them a response. A resting bitch face will do. You may be thinking, "Paxton, that is so mean" or "He looks sweet". Know who also looked sweet? Ted Bundy, muggers, anybody who wants something from you will be nice to you. You have a cell phone so look up directions or if you need wifi, McDonald's provides free wifi and a safe place to stand while finding your location. It may be tempting to be mean or sassy at the creeper, but more cases than not, s/he will want to talk/follow you more! Like if you give a mouse a cookie, if you give a creeper some bait congrats, you caught unsavory fella. When in doubt, always look forward, look determined, and always look for a safe location to go to if things get too sketchy walking.
Ok, let me do a quick detour from my scared straight rant by telling you my funny story of how we found the Naked Lunch. Originally, we were trying to find another bar off broadway street because we heard they were doing beer pong tournaments (plus they offered 5 cups of beer for only $5). The problem was we actually ended up coming way too early and the bar wasn't open yet. While we were deciphering what to do for the next half hour, a group of middle-aged men decided to swarm us. We are surrounded by a group of men and I hear "are you ladies lost like we are?" I look up and I stare at the man's piercing blue eyes. I noticed the space between he and I were way too close for comfort. So Roomie and I pushed our way out of the circle as quickly as possible without looking back. Fortunately, after that adrenaline rush, we ended up darting into the Naked Lunch.
The Naked Lunch by day is a lunch location and then at night, it turns into a dinner service/bar. There is an outdoor patio in the front and then walking into the restaurant, you are immediately welcomed with a chalkboard menu with all the drinks and the bar on the right. On the other side, there was a pool table and more open seating. The best part was the outdoor seating which had heaters! The heaters were the best when we had been walking in the chilly SF air. I tried their specialty drink of the season which was the watermelon margarita. It had the freshness of watermelon and the salty aftertaste of the tequila (for me tequila has always had a salty taste, comment below if you agree with me). However, there was a weird middle sipping taste that had almost a stale/flat taste to the drink. There were good aspects to the drink, but I couldn't get over the staleness sitting on my tongue. The watermelon margarita may not have been my favorite drink, but their other drinks were totally fine. They had a selection of local beers on draft and their vodka sodas were a relatively fair price ($8 for a vodka/soda is a pretty decent price in San Francisco). Besides the drinks, the atmosphere was an open and friendly place that I would definitely go back there again (maybe in the daytime for lunch).
The best part of the night was the roommate bonding. We met each other in a Facebook roommate search. She was looking for a room and I was looking for a roommate so basically a match made in heaven. It was nice to get away from the apartment and spend some time getting to know each other. Roommate hack: if you ever want to have fun easy convos with your roommates, get drinks together. My roommate and I were in such deep conversation, the bartender had to ask us to leave because they were closed; oops. It was two in the morning and we had to decide how to get home. Mind you that it is possible to take the Muni at night (check out their Owl Service), but talk about sketchy people on the bus. If 8 pm brought out unsavory people, 2 am brings out the fish from the very bottom of Bikini Bottom. This is what I have heard my colleagues from my program. I have personally never taken the night owl service, but I did not want to experiment that service after everything we went through a couple hours beforehand. So this leads to my last tip.
5. Save your Uber and Lyft trips for at night
Around here, Uber prices are easily 13-15 dollars if you aren't riding in Uber Pool which makes it so discouraging to ever go anywhere. However, if you are trying to find the best time to use Uber or Lyft, I would definitely say use it at night. It will be expensive, but the benefits of picking transportation apps over the other options are: it will take you home sooner than riding on the Muni and you will avoid the dangers of late night creepy crawlies.
I hope that this was useful and doesn't scare you away from going out in San Francisco. Definitely, take the opportunity to explore SF at night; when you find the right bar, the whole night is saved!
Comment below if you had any experiences similar to these or if I'm missing any other important key tips. See you next Wednesday!