Friday, May 04, 2007

No Name Bar

I've heard of a horse with no name... but a bar?
Well, actually I've heard good things about the No Name Bar. Friends have said for years it's the best night spot for socializing, and a favorite local hangout. Actually, it has been noted as one of the top 100 bars in the US according to "Cheers!" magazine. It features live music in the evenings and a covered heated garden patio in the back. I only had time for a quick bite today, so I parked on Bridgeway just north of the Casa Madrona Hotel and started walking... a box advertising a lunch menu took my notice as I was walking by, and I thought why not? If they actually offer lunch, it would certainly be an unusual experience.


So I rather hesitantly stepped in the dim interior and found a seat. Only a very few tourist types are here, and a couple of locals - all men except the barkeep, who smiled at me with greenish eyes and long curly red hair. Definitely a spot of color in an otherwise dingy, worn and dim place. This is the kind of place that comes alive with people and music, and one wouldn't even notice how well worn the interior is. The phone rings as I'm examining the simple soups and sandwiches menu. "No Bar" is how the barkeep answers. I order a California Club and some iced tea. I watch as the redheaded muse chats with the men, smiling, and picks up the phone and orders my sandwich from the kitchen. A black cat with round luminous yellow eyes strolls through, leaping up in the front window, and one of the men gently pets her as she looks out. Moments later a crowd of Chinese tourist ladies, having disembarked from the bus that briefly stopped before finding parking further up, form a semi-circle, smiling and pointing at the cat.


I continue to wait for my sandwich. The cat tires of all the flutter, and comes back, looks at me and leaps onto the green covered bench in front of me. Ah! A photo op of this interesting creature, I think. I whip out my camera and 'snap'! Just as I snap, the cat leaps onto the floor, and I just miss her. The barkeep apologizes for the delay in my sandwich arriving, surprising me with the information that she orders them for a deli around the corner!

California Club

As if on cue, a young woman in a hair net, bearing a saran-wrapped sandwich plate pops through the bright sunlight illuminating the door, and hands the sandwich to the barkeep over the counter, turns on her heel, and starts out the door efficiently. "Just a minute!" the barkeep calls, grabbing a dollar out of the large glass vase of tips, and runs after her, handing her the bill. Coming back she unwraps the sandwich and places it in front of me, wishing for me that it is good. It was, but what a circuitous path!

I really did feel like a fish out of water, and visibly relaxed when stepping out the door. I walked a few paces towards my car when from a gallery door an Asian man pops out and stands direcly in front of me, blocking my path. "Was the wine good?", he queried. "I saw you inside the bar". Flustered I started waving my hand backwards towards the outside sign that started it all, highlighting "Lunch" features and said I hadn't had any wine, just lunch, and it was good. "Oh.", he said and disappeared back through the gallery door. My recommendation: Shake up your day a little, do something you usually wouldn't. You may find an amusing adventure in just short of an hour, all during lunch.


Bob said...

Been there, drank there and came up with the same conclusions you have. While the place is a bit strange, The No Name Bar has been around for quite a while. Herb Caen used to frequent this watering hole and wrote about it in his column in the Chonicle. Back in the day the No Name Bar was one of the places to be seen in Sausalito. It's a wonder it's survived.

Elle said...

Great writing, Anna! I can feel the dim atmosphere, the ease of the regulars, the cat jumping away just as you snapped the photo, and the round about way the sandwich got to you. No place like Sausalito sometimes. :)

Anonymous said...

I hate sausalito because of all the toursit, they use to wake me up every morning coming in my backyard, but the No Name bar is a great place. You should go when they have live music. It's always better at night. No tourist.