Scottish SF

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By Phil Eil

San Francisco may be a long way from Scotland, but the fingerprints of our kilt-wearing friends are all over the Bay Area. Between John Muir (of Muir Woods), and “Uncle John” Mclaren, the Golden Gate Park superintendent who vowed, “There will be no ‘Keep Off the Grass’ signs,” Scotsmen have San Francisco-area parks covered. And then there are the seven San Francisco public libraries—including my local branch in the Mission -- financed by the Scottish-born steel baron Andrew Carnegie. If that’s not enough, consider each Scottish Terrier in Bernal Heights Park, all the Scotch Whisky in town, and every stitch of plaid clothing … ever. Now you’re on your way to giving the craggy country “North of the border” its proper due. Yes, Guy-Who’s-Seen-Trainspotting-Twenty-Four-Times, I’m talking to you.

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So where can you go to connect with the land that produced Sean Connery, David Byrne, and Alexander Graham Bell? Perennial Tenderloin favorite Edinburgh Castle Pub, of course. So Geary Street isn’t exactly the Royal Mile (the street that leads up to the real Edinburgh Castle in Scotland), but the ambiance inside the pub would make Fat Bastard proud. There are Scottish swords behind the bar, plenty of beers on tap (including “Kilt Lifter” Ale), and a U-shaped balcony that once hosted debates. “It’s not a restaurant. It’s not a bar. It’s a pub,” says Frank, the manager. And he meant pub, as in, Public House, the Old-Country venue full of lively political discourse and scraggly regulars who growl “Ah'm only a bawherr away fae pannin your stupit melt in ya gomeril!" (credit to the Scottish vernacular dictionary).

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The Edinburgh castles. Which is the impostor?

Let’s face it, parks and libraries are nice, but you won’t start feeling real Scottish love until you’re a wee smeekit full o’bellywashers at your Local. So throw on your family tartan, grab your copy of Ivanhoe, and head over to Edinburgh Castle for the next Rangers-Celtic game.

(And remember, true Scots don’t wear anything under their kilts.)

Edinburgh Castle Pub
950 Geary, SF
(415) 885-4074
www.castlenews.com

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