Finding The Best Of San Francisco Inside HBO’s Looking

lookingThe gays have been grieving, riled up on Twitter and flinging hashtags — basically aghast at HBO’s short-sighted decision to end the only gay drama on cable. Here we had a show to call our own, real and gritty and heartfelt and sexy, and HBO goes and pulls the plug. Luckily, we still have Game of Thrones to satiate our homerotic fantasies and pangs for full-frontal. But still, Looking was a gem, a milestone, the first TV show to depict this generation of gays.

But aftrer two seasons, it’s gone, and we have only the memories. And a handful of places your favorite characters hung out in and worked. So if you have no life, and no friends, and the pain of losing Dom and Patrick and Agustin is just too much, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up our favorite Looking landmarks, from greasy spoons to greasier bathhouses. Here are top choices to mourn this loss, and to remember the two seasons of a show that left us too early.

Zuni Café

Zuni has long been a cornerstone to the San Francisco dining scene, where Dom worked as a career waiter, and while you’re dream of having him serve you one of their legendary burgers is not dead (it never actually existed but just go with it…) you should still stop by for lunch, grab a seat at the bar, and experience why this flat-iron institution has become such a mainstay in SF.

El Rio

El Rio made its Looking debut way back in Episode 1, providing the backdrop for an engagement party we’d rather forget, but the bar remains the best neighborhood dive in the Mission, no small feat considering the national attention hype of so many of its neighbors – but El Rio is different. Cozy and local with a killer backyard patio space, a pool table, and amazing Happy Hour specials on Mondays (Hello $1 Tecate, free oysters after 5pm and free BBQ after 8pm! Yes, Mondays at El Rio kick ass.) Oh, and they have Bloody Mary’s infused with Bacon, because San Francisco is awesome.

Press Club

When we first see the swank and sexy Press Club, it’s under less-than-sexy circumstances: Patrick is on yet another disastrous first date. But, hey, if you have to make awkward small talk on a dead end date, where better than this much-lauded wine bar in San Fran’s Financial District? We love this place for its small plates, open spaces (great for large groups of friends) and their expansive and unique wine selection. A glass of chardonnay can run you upwards of $25, so beware the price tag.

Willy’s Barber Shop

We’ll sure miss Richie, but luckily for us, we can hop into his shabby Mission barbershop anytime we’re around 22nd Street and looking for a haircut. This cute, old-timey space has a a strong, gay clientele (and stronger now, thanks to the show!)

Eros Sauna

We’d recognize those floor-tiles anywhere! The minute we saw Dom shirtless and towel-draped in a sauna, we knew it had to be Eros, a throwback to seventies-era bathhouses when sex in San Francisco was a different scene and places like this were a more ubiquitous. For the sake of gay history, nostalgia for the show, or a chance to see nude dudes strutting their stuff, it’s worth a look.

St. Francis Fountain

After Patrick and Richie reunited (at The Stud of all places!) they had their romantic, cutesy date here, at St. Francis Fountain, a classic 1918 soda fountain diner that serves tasty all-American fare. And while we can’t guarantee coming here will snag you a cute guy and a romantic, cutesy date, this place remains high on our insider radar, a real local spot spot that’s finally getting some much deserved love.

Dom’s Chicken Window turned out to be an old Crème Brulee walk-up window. Don’t go looking for it, it doesn’t really exist.

R.I.P Esta Noche. A noble gay bar that graced many an episode and closed its doors just shortly before the show did.

Photo credit

Published by edsalvato

Educator, marketing, communications and travel safety expert; LGBTQ Pavilion at the New York Times Travel Show; public speaker; expert panel organizer and moderator

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