Bar Leon is a delightful little bar on the busy Calle de la Virgen (the street sign uses the Catalan name Carrer de le Mare de Deu) in Sa Penya, Ibiza Town. You're guaranteed a warm welcome from Erwin and his dog Jimmy, when you sit down outside the bar and watch the world go by. By day this street is dead, but at about 10pm lots of bars like this spring up with tables outside and lots of atmosphere. If you buy a bottle of water, give the bottle to Jimmy once you've finished with it - water bottles are his favourite toys! By far the most charming bar on Ibiza.
Calle de la Virgen (Carrer de la Mare de Deu) 62, 07800 Ibiza. www.bar-leon.de
In the same vein as the Mad Dog in the Fog (owned by the same guy), this is the city's premier sports bar.
And by sports, I mean sports. The Kezar is located across the street from Kezar Stadium, the former home of the city's five-time Super Bowl champion 49ers, now converted to a trim 10,000 seat athletics, football and soccer stadium. The atmosphere follows the same vein as the decor: distinctly 49ers-related, and NFL and college action packs the place to watch every game on its 24 TV screens. Similar crowds watch baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox, or ice hockey (an unusual interest of the owner - read more). March madness may bring the biggest crowds of all. If you want your American sport, the Kezar's the place to go.
But it's more than that.
The Kezar abuts the epicentre of the city's legendary Irish community (a community third only to New York and Boston) and there is a distinctly Irish undertone to the place, from the logo exhibiting Kezar Stadium's famous arch with a shamrock placed in it to the Irish bar staff and owner. Gaelic sports are in abundance here, and the bar is equally full for the Six Nations or Republic of Ireland internationals.
But while it's an Irish bar in America, it's not an “Irish” bar. Rather, it's a mishmash of European and American sensibilities. The Premiership and Champions League football attract huge crowds, mixing tourists, American fans, and expatriates. New Zealanders and Australians pack the pub for Tri-Nations rugby (shown live in the wee hours) and even Indians come for cricket. The World Cup saw the start of Kezar's newest demographic - Ukranian soccer fans.
Oh, the food's also top notch for a sports bar. You'll find your fish and chips, meat pies and your Irish fare, including shepherd's pie and the legendary Irish breakfasts munched on by hungry rugby and football fans, as well as American hamburgers and buffalo wings. But the owner's wife - a chef - adds some subtle touches in the form of salmon, penne pasta and excellent salads.
Beer flows freely here, with several varieties of American beers, English ales, and God's own Guinness.
770 Stanyan St, at the edge of the Haight-Ashbury district. Reachable by several bus lines, including the 71 Haight-Noriega, the 43 Masonic and the 6 Haight;
tel: (415) 386 9292
The bar on top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel is a famous and historic bar. It has a fantastic view of the city and a relaxed atmosphere. Here you can have a drink at "weepers corner" where the wives/girlfriends of the sailors in WW2 watched their loved ones sail off to war, many to never return again. Truly mesmerising views.
1 Nob Hill (999 California Street) - you cant miss it, it is visible from all of San Francisco;
tel: (415) 616 6916;
It's a great bar that hosts literary readings, music quiz nights and more. They also serve the best British chippy-style fish & chips I've found since moving here. (They actually come from the Old Chelsea, a tiny place round the corner.) Irvine Welsh has been known to hang out there.
950 Geary Street;
tel: (415) 885 4074;
If it is a sunny evening, have a drink at Medjool's "sky terrace", the only rooftop bar in the city. Beautiful panoramas, beautiful people. The drinks and food are slightly less beautiful, but you come here for the 360 degree drop dead gorgeous views.
2522 Mission St (nearest intersection is 21st Street);
tel: (415) 550 9055;
Classic beat hangout just across Jack Kerouac Alley from City Lights Bookstore. Good beer on tap; fascinating decor; try to get an upstairs table.
255 Columbus Avenue; tel: (415) 362 3370;
Open: 6am-2am every day of the week;
This is a low key bar in the Lower Haight (Haight and Fillmore), a funky, low-key neighbourhood, where you can go early on Saturday and catch your Premiership games. They've got a lot of TVs to cover the games, good food and atmosphere. The house team is Aston Villa.
Market St Street car line to the Church St Exit.
One of the best views in San Francisco is to be found in the financial district, at the top of the Bank of America building (of Towering Inferno fame). Its bar/restaurant (Carnelian Room) is open to the public after three in the afternoon and has some breathtaking views of the bay.
Bank of America Building
555 California St. (Kearny St.)
San Francisco, CA 94104
The stretch of Kingsland Road between Shoreditch and Hackney can seem barren at the best of times, with little more than car mechanics and tool hire shops to stop for, but a sure sign that things are changing is The Fox, a gastropub ripe for serving the new cluster of flats springing up in the area.
The menu is organic, and changes monthly, and they have a special menu for kids. Sunday morning is a real family-fest. When I visited the patrons seemed to span in age from 8 months to 80 years.
372 Kingsland Road, London E8; tel: 020 7254 4012
Everyone says: go to Charlie's Bar. Don't. For a start, the place is a dump. Secondly, and this is the main reason not to go, the door staff are crooked thugs.
We were in there, minding our own business and our friend went to the toilet. He was followed in by 3 doormen who closed the door behind them and demanded money and cocaine off him. Upon finding that he had no cocaine and was not eager to hand over cash, they beat him up, leaving him needing a trip to the hospital and several stitches in his top lip which had been completely split open.
We called the police who seemed to be in on it because they arrived, and the same doorman that had been involved in the beating told them that there was no problem. They left, despite us protesting otherwise, with a guy standing there bleeding profusely from the mouth.
Just don't go there. I can't say strongly enough that there are so many good bars and clubs in Bratislava - enough for that place to be avoided. Vote with your feet. Any place that employs thugs on the door who try to fleece tourists needs to be given a wide berth. Go to the Slovak Pub. It's ace.
Don't find it. Avoid it.
A deeply eccentric experience based in Belfast and Dublin. It is a combination of live art and jazztronica presented in ever-changing environments. I was given corporate tickets by my employer in France but I believe you can get on the paying guest list for 80 euros. Beautiful people, beautiful music and very very weird venues - this is the coolest club in the world.
Various venues in Belfast and Dublin. Contact +44 (0)7901 853 216.
A jenever (gin) tasting house (aka bar).
As well as the usual Bols jenevers, this delightful small bar has a large range of flavoured gins (including liquorice and a salty one), aged 5 & 10 year old gins and bitters (their own brand Olofspoortje Bitter is on my desk at the moment - a very nice bitter orange 30%).
The bar is on the corner of the main Red Light area, not far from Centraal Station. I went on a busy evening & approached from the wrong direction, past hoards of drunken English tourists trying to find somewhere to get ... well, what do people go here for?
But this historic bar was nice & quiet - about 10 Dutch people (including two who were tourists), and a small party of Japanese who were shown into a back room for a 'tutored tasting'. I stayed & tried to understand as much Dutch as I could, whilst selecting the more unusual jenevers.
Beer, cheese and other snacks are also available.
Nieuwe Brugsteeg 13, 1012 AG Amsterdam; tel 020 624 3918
This is the kind of bar you find on holiday. It's friendly, plays great music, and is refreshingly un-designer-y. Hector the owner is a genuine Cuban and is always happy to have a chat. It's Hector, and the cool vibe, and the rum-based cocktails that really make it a great place to start or end an evening. The best mojito this side of Habana!
36 Preston Street, Brighton (between Western Road and the sea front)
A cool, relaxed vibe makes our local the best pub in Brighton - good food (yummy meatball sub!), good beer, friendly funny staff, and old school decor with a twist (check out the photo of cabaret girls next to the bar).
67a Upper Gloucester Road
Great pub, nice people, serving big, tasty food. Very informal - sometimes riotous - pub quiz every Thursday night from about nine.
Not been the same since the glory days, but still jolly good fun.
You could also try wandering on through Kemptown past the Hanbury Ballroom and St George's Church, turn right at the end and you're back on the seafront, with great views of the ocean. Or the naturist beach, if that's your bag.
92, St Georges Rd, Kemptown;
tel: 01273 682 259
This hotel does great food, fab wines (of course) and has a walk-in humidor. It is part of a chain, and a great chain too. Highly recommended, even if you just pop in to visit the bar. You won't be disappointed.
Pub in central Brighton with enough brass and red carpet to still be called a pub - and not a bar. It has a great barn-like seating area, lots of little sections, a function/cocktail room upstairs and a great - and good value - menu. It's fab.
15 Black Lion St, Brighton; tel: 01273 329472
A great pub with a fab patio, that gets very crowded with local people for a good reason. A cheeky (honestly, it is cheeky) menu offering home-cooked food in enormous portions, always with freshly baked bread on the side. I can't tell you how good it is, you just have to try it. It's a Brighton thing.
13 Middle Street, Brighton; tel: 01273710444;
pen: Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-10.30pm
I'd give at least an hour to get to the stadium from the city centre, and would advise you avoid the 'fan fest' altogether. There's a better atmosphere in bars in the centre of town.
Can recommend a good bar just beside the HauptBahnhof, called Hibernia. They serve Gruben Pils there and the stuff is like amber nectar. The big screen is quite good too.
We had three Gelsenkirchen games, and stayed in Cologne or Dusseldorf for each of them. Would recommend either place ahead of Gelsenkirchen. (Dusseldorf is a little closer to Gelsenkirchen, but isn't a host city.)
Hibernia Brauhaus: Bahnhofsvorplatz 2, Gelsenkircen;
tel: 02 09 20 8531;
Fantastic decor, open windows overlooking the river, colonial charm and delicious food and drink.
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