San Francisco has always been known for its eclectic nightlife and fabulous watering holes. However, it is no secret that this is one expensive city not only to live in, but also to drink in, especially for students grappling with rising tuition and an ever-expanding cost of living. Having fun unfortunately always come with a price tag, but here are a handful of affordable venues that offer a little something extra that will not break the bank and are guaranteed to be a great night out.
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Buckshot is a college student’s paradise located in the Inner Richmond. Not only does this place offer fabulous drink specials, but it also has a wide variety of games that are sure to bid relief from a stressful week of hitting the books and tons of good, old-fashioned fun. They also offer ski ball, shuffleboard, pool, darts, board games and an array of video games. Better yet, at Buckshot there is never a cover and there is a DJ spinning seven days a week. Happy hour lasts an astonishing nine hours daily from noon to 9 p.m. and presents three-dollar draft beers, four-dollar well drinks, and new masterpiece cocktails created daily by pro-mixologists. This neighborhood hot-spot also includes a movie night every last Tuesday of the month, where students can relax with their popcorn and enjoy great films on the big screen. Even more, Buckshot offers an array of satiating small and large plates including garlic fries, homemade corn dogs and the mouthwatering chicken fried bacon, sure to fill the most starving student. Come decked out in casual wear whether it is your favorite skinnies and t-shirt or a fun, flirty dress and fit right in— this place is truly void of all pretentiousness. “There are always people here, and there is always something to do,” says Manager Devin Calvert. “There are plenty of things to do other than just sit around, get drunk, and stumble home.”
If you want to watch the latest games and possibly view a little eye candy on the side, Bar None is the place to go. Party-goers come fitted out in their favorite teams jerseys or dress in their trendiest duds from one of Union Street’s numerous boutiques, but no matter what you choose, Bar None is always a laid-back, casual bar. Situated on trendy Union Street in the Marina, this place boasts a multitude of plasma TV’s and features an old school jukebox where patrons decide what tunes they’ll be drinking and dancing to all night. “We hear a lot of journey in here,” says bartender, Sue Ellen. Students who have had enough of the game can partake in darts, foosball, a basketball shooting game, and board games. The weekdays feature a happy hour from 4 to 9 p.m. which offers three-dollar well drinks, two-dollar Rolling Rock, eight-dollar Rolling Rock pitchers, and half off all appetizers. Additionally, those looking to indulge can partake in their $2 Jagermeister and tequila shots from the hours 7 to 9 p.m. Those too pooped to party during the weekday needn’t fret, Bar None also offers happy hour during the weekend from noon to 5 p.m. “It is always huge in here when the Giants play,” adds Ellen. “Really after any major game it is packed. I mean, it is cheap and it is always a really, really good time, especially for the college crowd.”
Reminiscent of an old school salon, the Beauty Bar is not only a fashionable spot to drink and dance, but it also has a place where bar-goers can beautify themselves by indulging in a manicure. Beauty Bar is truly one-of-a-kind and the unique atmosphere transpires into bar-goers attire—as long as you come as yourself no matter how dressed up or dressed down—you’ll be ready to rock the dance floor. During their happy hour that is offered from 6 to 9 p.m., patrons can relax with a manicure while sipping a cocktail of their choice for only $15. This Mission Street haunt also features nightly drink specials that include PBR and a shot of whiskey offered during every happy hour for $5. Bartender David Ruiz says, “Beauty Bar attracts a crowd that is into art and music, but everyone who comes here always has a great time.” According to Ruiz, the lure of Beauty Bar is the affordability, the variety of music, and the fact that you can glam it up that makes for the perfect girls night out. “The weekends are always packed here, but Sunday nights are becoming our new big thing. Any night is a good time,” adds Ruiz.
Creative types looking to tantalize their eyes while having a cold one look no further than 111 Minna. According to Manager Anthony Culmer, “111 Minna Gallery is San Francisco’s haven for creative minds.” With the wide selection from local and renowned artists, it is pretty much impossible for students to get bored at this downtown destination that features an acclaimed art gallery, film screenings, DJ’s, happy hour drink specials and a wide variety of events. Located in the SOMA district, 111 Minna’s art gallery is opened every night and boasts a plethora of special events ensuring that every student will find something they’re supremely satisfied with. Upcoming events include a record release party, a showcase of live sketching, the San Francisco Derby girls, and more. Not only is the venue itself the epitome of cool with hardwood floors and an industrial vibe, but also the art changes every six weeks, guaranteeing one time at 111 Minna is never enough. Even though all eyes will be on the dramatic work, students should suit themselves up in elegant and fashion-forward attire—just like 111 Minna.
Freshman and sophomores lacking cool venues to get their party on can dance all night to the sounds of emerging and popular bands that infiltrate Slim’s every after hours of the week. This venue boasts local talents and fan favorites that all ages can sing along to. A fifteen-minute walk from Civic Center Bart, Slim’s is not only convenient but also the premier venue in San Francisco to catch a variety of music—upcoming shows include fan favorites Hellogoodbye and Andre Nickatina. Foodies can feast on Slim’s affordable dinner and bar menu that is always offered and tantalizes with tasty treats including nachos, mozzarella sticks, and cheddar and bacon potato skins. Those 21-plus looking to add a little mayhem to their night need not fret, Slim’s also has a fully stocked bar. Students looking to support their favorite band should show up in their favorite band-tee, but of course any look is permitted at this laid-back locale—just don’t forget to put on your party hat.