When are lap dances appropriate for date night? When they’re performed by six volunteers from the audience and come with a $25 prize from Ross Dress for Less. Bring the coolest girl you know on this mini-tour of the Tenderloin, now a testing ground for some of the city’s most ambitious and creative restaurateurs, artists and entrepreneurs.
Pre-Date: Welcome Stranger
Stop by Welcome Stranger for a smart upgrade on S.F.’s standard date-night apparel: Garrett Leight sunglasses, a Saturdays sweater and these canvas chukkas that are (A) stylish and (B) so generously priced we thought the price was a misprint. Add your favorite pair of jeans. Wrapped.
Dinner: Rusty’s Southern
Get there early enough and you might be in time for the dozen or so burgers that chef Francis Rubio doles out each night — imported from his last gig, Hayes Valley’s Biergarten. If you’re too late, there’s still plenty to love on the Carolina BBQ menu: a barbecue plate with smoked pork, fried chicken with collard greens and these two heavenly words: “fry basket.”
Drinks: Stookey’s Club Moderne
Next, walk over to this just-opened ’30s-style cocktail bar. The decor is Streamline Moderne (think industrial Art Deco) and the drinks similarly reflect the aspirations of the time. Try the Aviation: Gordon’s Gin, Rothman and Winter creme de violette, Luxardo maraschino and lemon juice.
Lap Dances: PianoFight
“So You Think You Can Lap Dance” pits six volunteers from the audience against each other at PianoFight, a five-month-old comedy club and performing arts space. It’s more slapstick than Crazy Horse, as suggested by the fact that the winner takes home a $25 gift certificate.