Under my umbrella

You-versus-pho challenges, sizzling hot chocolate: find your rainy day adventure at these bars and restaurants

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Get wet: bellyflop into Pho Garden's mega-bowl eating challenge next time it's pouring out.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY CAITLIN DONOHUE

culture@sfbg.com

GO THERE Nothing fouls an SF afternoon like a sudden shower. We are not given much to bike fenders, Gore-Tex, or waterproof shoes (current Doc Marten resurgence notwithstanding), so when the skies open you are as like as not to find that your dayplanner has closed. But worry not. Should your loved or soon-to-be-loved-whether-they-know-it-or-not one get cold feet on the rainy day of your date, offer them this fuzzy bunny slipper of a list: our collection of bars and restaurants around the Bay that are perfect for when skies are moist. 

 

PHO GARDEN

This Clement Street Vietnamese spot does not play. A billboard out front advertises its particular draw: a pho eating challenge employing the use of a bowl large enough to hold a baby, as said billboard helpfully illustrates. A $22 bowl of serviceable beef pho containing two pounds of noodles and two pounds of — at times frighteningly stringy and translucent — meat awaits competitors, who have one hour to scarf it down. You may never want to eat pho again after plunging into its depths but hey, it's rainy out and you just found a bowl of soup on which you can rest your elbows (and chin when the hour inevitably takes its toll). Winners get the pho for free and take home the mega-bowl. Losers get a "Got Pho Challenge?" T-shirt, so everyone waddles home happy. (Caitlin Donohue)

2109 Clement, SF. (415) 379-8677, www.phogardensf.com

 

THE LITTLE SHAMROCK

A 118-year-old bar surely has a few ghosts (or at least three sheets to the wind). But nothing could send a chill up your spine while you're seated in front of the fireplace at this Irish Inner Sunset favorite, enjoying a sprightly game of backgammon and nursing a fortifying draft. The uber-Victorian décor and Great Quake-oriented memorabilia lining the walls might just whisk(ey) you back to 1929, when then-owner Tony Herzo Jr. "always had a big kettle of Spanish beans at the window by the front door," according to the bar's lore. We'll gladly settle for the Shamrock's belly-warming Bloody Mary meal plan. (Marke B.)

807 Lincoln, SF. (415) 661-0060

 

TOSCA

When it's chilly outside, nothing warms your insides like hot chocolate with sweet brandy in a fancy glass. Tosca, with red vinyl booths and exquisite-imposing carved wood bar, will be your beacon in a dreary North Beach storm. The bar keeps the sizzling hot chocolate lined up, awaiting request. And if you need to steady the alcohol running through your delicate system, they bring out these lovely homemade cheesy nibbles and other assorted snacks. The atmosphere is doubly cozy thanks to nostalgic cuts off actual records in the vintage jukebox; the Rat Pack dominates the mix. (Emily Savage)

242 Columbus, SF. (415) 986-9651, www.toscasf.com

 

THE RIPTIDE

Everybody in the Sunset knows that this bar specializes in providing cozy climes for those who have been carving gnarly waves (or just stuck on a packed L-Taraval car). The local paraphernalia-bedecked brick fireplace makes for a great place to curl up and wait out the rainstorms — and you're unlikely to be alone when you do so. The Riptide houses a mini-scene in the outer neighborhoods: open mics, live bands, karaoke, all set to a food menu that rotates daily. Shepard's pie Mondays? DIY grilled cheese Thursdays? It's just enough to reconcile a person to the caprices of Mother Nature for the day. (Donohue)

3639 Taraval, SF. (415) 681-8433, www.riptidesf.com