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Jay 'n' Bee Club: Checkered linoleum floor tiles, framed photos of old jazzmen and jocks of yore, and the occasional rockabilly DJ give this Mission/Potrero neighborhood bar a comfortable throwback vibe. The rear patio is a bonus on warm evenings, and the menu at this welcoming dive has evolved from standard bar grub and Mexican eats to delicious pizzas and an array of salads. The pizzas are thin-crust, with locally sourced toppings such as sausage from long-running Mission District deli Lucca's. 2736 20th St., 824-4190, myspace.com/jaynbeeclub.
The Knockout: The Knockout has been called a clubhouse for big kids, and that's a pretty apt description. Started by brothers and longtime Mission District bartenders dX and John Segura, the place just bleeds love for kitsch, rockabilly, monster movies, and low-brow culture. On any given night, there might be a touring mod band tearing up the stage, or a DJ spinning metal or old funk 45s, or a drunken, raucous game of bingo going down. There's a photo booth, a few tabletop videogames, and walls covered with dX's distinctive paintings and poster art. Look for the hip kids out front, plenty of tattoos inside, and John serving up an overflowing shot glass of Jim Beam on the planks. 3223 Mission, 550-6994, theknockoutsf.com.
Lexington Club: Cozy lesbian bar tucked into a Mission sidestreet. It's a bar, with lesbians — what more do you need to know? 3464 19th St., 863-2052, lexingtonclub.com.
Little Baobab: An offshoot of Bissap Baobab, the rollicking Senegalese restaurant right around the corner on Mission Street, Little Baobab is more of a club than an eatery — well-known for its reggae and afro-pop dance nights. The menu is similar to the larger restaurant's — festive, shareable Senegalese and Pan-African appetizers and entrees, like shrimp marinated in cloves, chilis, and garlic, tropical salads, and lamb in peanut sauce. The cocktails are unique here; try the Flamboyant (hibiscus, lime, and vodka) or the Salaan (a tamarind-based margarita). 3388 19th St., 643-3558, littlebaobabsf.com.
LookOut: The elevated location, long windows, and outdoor balcony give this Castro bar its name, where queers nosh on pizza and dance to DJed music while keeping an eye out for people to meet. 3600 16th St., 703-9751, lookoutsf.com.
Madrone Art Bar: Unless you're dying to catch a show at the Independent, this is the place on Divisadero to go. Everything in here is created by local artists, from the design of the space right down to the menus, while DJs spin everything from hip-hop, funk, and soul to vintage jazz and retro rock 'n' roll. 500 Divisadero, 241-0202, madroneartbar.com.
Make-Out Room: It feels almost like a bingo parlor at the community church. Fortunately, the quirky Midwestern atmosphere of this bar lends itself to the mostly folk and country acts that perform here. Regular DJ nights also expand the soundtrack to include everything from Latin funk and Jamaican ska to New Wave and indie dance hits. 3225 22nd St., 647-2888, makeoutroom.com.
Mezzanine: A top-flight club on a dark city sidestreet, Mezzanine has elements of both red-velvet slickness and brick-wall industrial chic, although the dancefloor's loud enough and packed enough that you may not notice. Every week brings a fresh new music lineup, with talent ranging from electro hipsters and European house DJs to hip-hop MCs and indie rock bands, all playing through a sound system loud enough to shake the floor. If dancing isn't your thing, you can always go upstairs to the more chilled-out lounge or head out back for a cig break in the fenced-in smoking section. 444 Jessie, 625-8880, mezzaninesf.com.
Mighty: This warehousey (but stylish) location on the edge of Potrero Hill hosts many mid- to high-profile DJ events, from house music love-ups to multi-crew hip-hop throwdowns and even the occasional roller disco. 119 Utah, 762-0151, mighty119.com.
Monarch: The people behind the Om Records music label, Black Pancakes vinyl emporium, and other local culture outlets have taken over this two-level nightclub along the Sixth Street corridor just south of Market. Expect a lot of house music to fill the vaguely steampunky space, decorated like a fancy, retro-futuristic Victorian parlor where brass horns sprout cephalopod chandeliers and pipes are bent into privacy screens. 101 Sixth St., 284-9774, monarchsf.com.
Pilsner Inn: At the busy corner of Church and Market in the Castro sits this casual neighborhood sports bar with simple wood tones, a pool table, pinball, and a garden patio. This is more of a straight-friendly gay bar, reminiscent of a small town bar that supports the community pool, softball, and bowling leagues. Trophies and plaques adorn the walls along with a strong, yet random, puffin theme (if you get the chance, you should query the bartender), as well as a few old-school touches such as a hanging surfboard and classic telephone booth. The patio can accommodate large groups with dark wood benches (with built-in ashtrays) lining the garden and a cornered-off porch for more intimate groups. The patio is well-lit with a transparent canopy, and it never gets smoky even when it's crowded on Friday night. The seating is well-designed so everyone has space, yet it all feels very intimate and social at the same time. A strong rosemary smell, babbling fountains, and Christmas lights help keep the mood calm, juxtaposing the lively but poised position inside, where the '80s hair metal streams from the jukebox. 225 Church, 621-7058, pilsnerinn.com.
Powerhouse: Having club nights with names like "Nipple Play" (nipple fetish night), "Underwear" (panty fetish night), and "Wrasslin'" (wrestling fetish night where grown men sport high school wrestling outfits and try pinning each other to a mat), it's safe to say that this isn't the place you want to take Mom and Dad when they come to town. It is, however, the place to go if you're looking for a daddy and a dirty time. DJs spin a mix of house and techno every night, and the back room/dancefloor, rife with leering men lurking in the shadows, is appropriately dark. 1347 Folsom, 552-8689, powerhouse-sf.com.