A weekly attempt to find just the right balance of amassing encyclopedic knowledge of the San Francisco bar scene and drinking enough to forget all that knowledge. Barrespondent Drew returns this week from Mexico with a new found respect for Mr. Sauza and all three generations of headache-merchants in his family. Now back down to business.
Over the past months we've seen our fair share of theme bars. Be it the 'double viking' inducing devils at Lucky 13 or the pimped-out tricycles littered about The Rickshaw Stop, everyone's looking for a gimmick, and whether it's a legitimate tribute to something/someone or just something the marketing team came up with, it certainly helps to remember a place the next morning if it happened to have a whole lot of crazy crap on the walls.
Eddie Rickenbacker's on 2nd Street in SOMA feels on first impression like some cheesy T.J. O'Pootertoots-like family fun zone. Littered with antique motorcycles and toy trains, it would be easy to quickly assume that some sales squad went nuts at the swap meet and opened up a restaurant. This is definitely not the case, however, and anyone turning and running from Rickenbacker's is missing out on a slice of true San Francisco history.
"Normal" Norman Hobday opened Rickenbacker's in the '70s and has packed it with an incredible collection of turn of the century war memorabilia, old motorcycles and big HO scale train sets.. One of those pieces of memorabilia, a set of Native American teeth, has apparently created quite a controversy as of late, but that seems to be dying down. In the several times I've been there, I've never noticed the teeth, so I'm assuming they're not the main draw for people coming there, or even displayed very prominently. Hopefully this won't cause too much distraction for what is otherwise a great bar.
Rickenbacker's long, wood bar is immediately comforting, and the combination of incredibly friendly bartenders and talkative and helpful locals make this place instantly comfortable and inviting. The great beer selection and perfectly made cocktails don't hurt either. Apparently it's not unusual to see Normal Norman himself off in the corner playing 'Liar's Dice', ready to give a piece of his mind to anyone who asks for it.
So do yourself a favor and check out Eddie Rickenbacker's. Just remember that this ain't no Cracker Barrell so don't touch the antiques on the wall.