RUGGY'S YELP When that burning yellow ball of helium makes a rare appearance in the city, shucking out wads of vitamin D like Lil' Wayne at a titty bar, it's hard not to want to cozy up near the coastline for an elixir with Mother Nature.
Unfortunately for those who identify with a Mission state of mind, the idea of rubbing elbows with hordes of Coors Light-chugging Ohio State alums with deep v-necks and picture-perfect fist pumps can be frightening at best, leaving the Marina a rather uncertain prospect. But believe it or not, the northernmost sector of town can be rather enjoyable when you know where to go.
So strap on your faux raccoon tail and peddle that fixed-gear pushbike north without worry. Even in a sea of Four Loko and spray tans — well hey, uncharted waters aren't always easy to navigate, but once you've had an opportunity to engage in a few exploratory voyages, you just might find yourself the Captain James Cook of the 94123.
MARENGO ON UNION
Circumvent the inebriated swashbucklers at downstairs neighbor Bar None — once safely inside the Mad Men cocktail milieu of Marengo, you'll experience the dashing side of the Marina you never knew existed.
Hustle past Marengo's bustling front of the house and proceed directly to the caboose for moonshine that stands nose-to-nose with the coolest cocktail kids on campus. With creations like the refreshing BLT (Bulleit bourbon, lime, tonic), the heavy-handed Rye Hound (think greyhound, but loaded with the brown stuff), and enough fermented grain mash to put hair on the chest of a Jonas Brother, you've got yourself a recipe for fun that would put a glimmer in the bloodshot eye of Charles Bukowski.
If you have an appetite, pair your Kentucky straight with all-beef sliders hailing from farms no more than 150 miles away in any direction, and add a hefty dose of bacon — you know everything tastes better with cured, crispy back fat.
1980 Union, SF. (415) 441-2575, www.marengoonunion.com
The younger sibling of the Mission's Beretta and the Castro's Starbelly, Delarosa brings a much-needed kick to the groin of this cutesy Marina thoroughfare. Combining the bold flavors of Roman cuisine with a top-notch wine and cocktail program, it's an impressive little nook with a convivial clientele, devoid of the typical creatures responsible for the generally regrettable neighborhood stereotype.
While not dark and brooding like its Valencia counterpart, Delarosa's brightly colored interior houses some seriously well crafted libations, like the signature Agricole Mule (Agricole rum, lime, ginger, mint, soda) and a diverse beer lineup assembled by a real-life beer sommelier. Red ales like the Duchesse de Bourgogne, German offerings like the Köstritzer Schwarzbier, and plenty of domestic pours have got your beer bases covered.
Speaking of bases, Giants closer Brian Wilson is a regular at Delarosa. Clearly a meathead in his own right, but I can't say I wouldn't love running into that bearded mug.
2175 Chestnut, SF. (415) 673-7100, www.delarosasf.com
BLACK MAGIC VOODOO LOUNGE
Damn near Russian Hill, you'll have no problem settling into Black Magic. Channeling the spirit of classic New Orleans, this minuscule watering hole is ripe for the picking if you're craving a southern change of pace — without having to dodge incoming plastic beads flung from the hands of skeevy Peeping Toms, or enduring the painful humidity of the Bayou.