The Cavalier, 10.11.2016

Apparently, The Cavalier is another restaurant that feels that the listing of any non-alcoholic options on their dinner menu is a waste of space.

So, I won’t waste much space on them.

(To be fair, they do list “Fresh Juices and Refreshers” on their Lunch, Brunch, and Breakfast menus. Not sure why they fall out of consideration for the dinner menu.)

The Dark Horse Inn, 09.16.2016

Note, this is a collaborative post authored by both Missus and Mister Flannestad.

Aside from Old Bus Tavern, the place you are most likely to find the Missus and myself on a Friday night is The Dark Horse Inn on Geneva near Mission St in the Excelsior District.

Our exceedingly cool next-door neighbors also find themselves there on a regular basis, so we recently plotted to head there together to celebrate our shared discerning local expertise. It was great fun to enjoy the glee of their 5 year old son as he raced to the door in anticipation of the Dark Horse Inn’s secret kid’s menu item “chicken fingers”.  It was also hilarious when, in the spirit of buying rounds, we ordered him another glass of milk and he sighed, “I don’t need ANOTHER milk” when it was delivered.  It was not a double milk kind of night.

Last Friday night, we had the good fortune of being spotted at the bar by another friend (and a longtime Dark Horse regular) who graciously waved us over to join him and his wife at their table.  It turned out to be a wonderful night of trading stories, Midwestern brat haus experiences, and shared musical interests.  It was only after we realized that there were others waiting on our table, that we were able to tear ourselves away, and depart the good company.  On our way out we traded hellos and hi-fives with another regular at the bar who laughingly accused us of stalking him.

It’s this sort of friendly neighborhood atmosphere that reminds me a lot of the Taverns and Bars that the Missus and I grew up with in Wisconsin.

Dark Horse Inn keeps their beer taps filled with tasty and interesting local beers like Epidemic Ales’ Brain Bash, Local’s Hetch Hetchy IPA and St. Florian’s Bella Rosa Engine Stout (find Dark Horse’s always evolving tap list on They also have a very good beer bottle list.

(For those of you for which only hard liquor will do, note The Dark Horse Inn is Beer and Wine only. Plan ahead, or bring a flask, if you really need a post work Martini or Manhattan.)

Most of all, their hamburger is our current favorite in San Francisco.  The Missus, (a beer geek who enjoys the eclectic tap list and evil eyes anyone at the bar who ignorantly orders an Old Style,) argues it’s consistently the hands-down BEST BURGER IN SF! They also offer unique daily salads, custom burgers, and other specials advertised via Instagram teasers. Chicken & waffles! Sunday night dinners! Brisket! We need to step-up beyond our regular Friday night visits to take advantage of these opportunities in deliciousness.

The non-alcoholic drink list isn’t fancy, but provides good options for grown ups, (even if the Mister would rather not have the taste of rose petals in his lemonade). Also, the free re-fills on regular non-sugary iced tea is an (un)sweet deal.

Dark Horse Drink Menu
Dark Horse Drink Menu

The Mister’s current go to non-alcoholic beverage is Milwaukee’s finest root beer, Sprecher Brewing, available at all times.

Sprecher Root Beer at the Dark Horse.
Sprecher Root Beer at the Dark Horse.

There are many options at the Dark Horse Inn beyond beverages, whether sitting alone at the bar or with a table of your ten best friends. Along w/ a few TV sets airing sports games there is always one screening esoteric film classics. What a pleasant array of options!

Whether you are craving a burger, the “Kimchi Reuben” (made with house smoked pastrami), interesting beer, good company, or all of the above, The Dark Horse Inn is a great place to go. Sit at the bar. You’ll probably make some new friends.

Old Devil Moon, 09.09.2016


On the way home from dinner at Old Bus Tavern, we stopped by Old Devil Moon (Facebook Link).

The space which Old Devil Moon took over had long been a Latin Bar, but the owners wanted to retire and a group of folks who had been involved in the San Francisco Homebrew club wanted to open a bar. Win/Win.

The owners have been working on remodeling the bar for quite a while, six months to a year, while the neighborhood patiently awaits its chance to deliver a verdict on the new venue.

We were initially going to meet up at Old Devil Moon with some friends who have a 5 year old. When I questioned the owners via instagram whether the venue would be “kid friendly”, I got the following reply, “We welcome everyone! We’re more a “bar with food” than a “restaurant with alcohol,” so it’s the sort of spot that may feel a little too rowdy for kids after a certain hour.” We did stop by with our friends and their son, but there was no space to sit, and, at 6:30pm, already looked a little “rowdy for kids”. Hey, it is their first week open. So we went elsewhere for dinner.

Mrs. Flannestad and I wanted to get back in and check it out, without having to worry about whether it was kid friendly, so we stopped in last night.

They do have a very good tap list of beers, including a few under 5%, so nearly non-alcoholic. They even feature Cask Ales, at this time from Freewheel Brewing, on beer machine. So, if you don’t mind a little alcohol, there you go, a few options.

As is recently trendy in modern venues, they also have spirits and mixed drinks on tap: Fernet, Bourbon, Mint syrup flavored Bourbon (“Poor Man’s Sazerac”). I think they also sometimes have cold brewed Coffee on nitro, but I didn’t see this on the menu when I visited.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, the only truly non-alcoholic option, other than maybe nitro-coffee, is a self serve ice water dispenser at the back of the restaurant. It is flanked by stacks of the sorts of red plastic cups you’d see at a Pizza Parlor, down to the authentic tang of disk sanitizer. (Did they get them used?) Nothing on the food, drink, or beer menus to indicate even a single non-alcoholic option. And, so far, they’ve been so swamped every time I’ve been in, that I haven’t had the chance to ask if they could make me an off menu non-alcoholic drink.

I guess, like the kid thing, they didn’t figure non-drinkers would be going to a “bar with food”. (See update below, they do have non-alcoholic options, they just were not currently listed on any of the menus.)

Did I mention it is really loud? Sound baffling also must have been a low priority. For someone like myself, with incipient tinnitus from too many loud rock shows, it’s kind of a nightmare. Nearly deafening.

So, it’s an interesting addition to the neighborhood, but the noise level probably makes it not really my scene on busy nights, (which, fortunately for them, seem to be most nights,) despite the good beer and some off menu non-alcoholic drink options.

Updated 09.11.2016:

Received from following comment via instagram from one of the owners of Old Devil Moon. They do have some non-alcoholic options, you just have to ask. Next time.

“For the record, Old Devil Moon has all the nonalcoholic beverages any full liquor bar has, and more, including a variety of juices, ginger beer, and sodas (we even have grapefruit and clementine Izzy on the soda gun), as well as nitro coffee. Obviously, it’s been packed on the opening days after articles came out in several major online publications in SF. We’ve had families and kids in there every day during the early hours, regardless. We’ve been thrilled by the reception we’ve gotten from the neighborhood, almost to a person the locals we’ve heard from are super excited to have us here. If you give us another try, next time you’re in ask a bartender about drinks. Also, in the future when you do your write ups, consider reaching out to the owners or managers of the venues to verify your information, I would’ve been more than happy to have spoken with you via email or in person. Cheers and hope to see you in ODM again!”

Old Bus Tavern 09.09.2016

For my first field trip under the aegis of “The Reluctant Teetotaler”, I decided to pitch myself a softball.

Old Bus Tavern is a local brewpub myself and my wife frequent regularly. Recently Rachel Leiderman, who I worked with for several years on the Savoy Cocktail Book nights at Alembic Bar, started working there. She knows I haven’t been drinking, and is quite non-drinker friendly.

Old Bus Tavern is an unusual “Brewpub” in that the food is a bit more on the modern side, rather than the usual burger and fries brewpub fare. They are also one of the restaurants taking advantage of California’s “Type 75” license. If you have an onsite, small volume brewery, this license allows you to also sell hard liquor based cocktails, at a fraction of the cost of a regular “Type 47” license, which are very hard to come by in San Francisco.

One of our favorite newer restaurants in the city, it’s a fun place with good food, good beer, and good cocktails. A little expensive, maybe, but what can you do, we live in San Francisco, where it is nearly impossible to even get a decent lunch for under $10.

0% ABV at Old Bus
0% ABV at Old Bus

Old Bus has a section of the menu devoted to their “O% ABV” drinks. They usually have a seasonal soda.

Honey, Champagne Vinegar, Citrus, Soda.
Honey, Champagne Vinegar, Citrus, Soda.

In this case, their most recent soda has honey, Citrus, Champagne Vinegar, and soda water. It is quite refreshing, tart, and not too sweet. Dig the basil leaf garnish.

Ginger Juice, Citrus, Walnut Bitters.
Ginger Juice, Citrus, Walnut Bitters.

Rachel also made me something she’s been enthusiastic about since a friend turned her on to the “Thad Vogler Method for Ginger Juice”. That is, you take an equal amount by weight of sugar, ginger, and water. Either run it through a juicer or just puree it in a food processor and put it through a china cap. This drink was pretty basic, a fair amount of the ginger juice, some citrus juice, and a few dashes of Fee’s Walnut bitters on top. The Walnut bitters and ginger were an unexpectedly good combination.

Rachel also pulled out a bottle of a German non-alcoholic aperitif she recently discovered. It bears the unfortunate name of “Riemerol” (named after its creator Mr Riemerschid and I presume Aperol), it is a non-alcoholic Orange and Quinine based bitter. She made a drink with Riemerol, Citrus, and Soda water. Pretty tasty, a slightly bitter orange soda.

If you’re in Bernal Heights, Old Bus is not only the place to go for food, beer, and cocktails, but also for non-alcoholic drinks.