At this point in my life, going to bars is something that I don't feel I necessarily need to do. I did a lot of it during my younger coming out years, but these days, ehh...not so much. I'm not going to say I miss it. But it was with interest that I heard about Hi Tops Bar, a new gay sports bar that opened recently on Market Street in the Castro in the old space that was Lime. Gay sports bar you say? Why yes. I've lived in several other cities that have had thriving gay sports bars that I would go to frequently to hang out and watch games. Since I moved here I can't say any of the places here were true sports bar hang outs. Some would have games on occasionally, but not with any consistency and Hi Tops seems to be making the full commitment to it. Anyway, what intrigued me about this new place was that it was also going to do a food menu designed by Top Chef alum Jamie Lauren. So it was that the SO and I found ourselves wandering into the place on a Saturday night. It's a little before 6pm and there is a decent crowd hanging out along all the walls, across the bar and at the scattered tables in back.
They've really opened the space up and given it a loft space kind of feel, though I think they were trying for old school YMCA locker room, as there are lockers along a back wall and what looks like a really long shuffle board game on the other wall. In back is also where they set up the kitchen and ordering bar. From first impressions I like the vibe the place has, the music isn't too loud and the televisions have pretty much every game that is on, the trick is finding space near the game you want to see. After making our way to the back we perused the menu and decided to go total bar foodie this night and chose the fried chicken sandwich and the bacon beef burger.
The fried chicken sandwich was served on a brioche bun with cole slaw, some salty sweet pickles and garlic fries. What can I say, I thought it was great. The chicken breast was panko battered and deep fried crispy, tender and juicy. The cole slaw was a nice blend of cabbage, carrots, purple cabbage, vinegar, a touch of mayo (not drowning in it)--it was spicy, crunchy goodness that added a nice kick to the sandwich. The fries were not over garlicy, they were hot and crispy out of the fryer with a sprinkling of parsley, garlic and salt. Served with the perfect compliment of a slightly sweet pickle it was a step above your standard bar fare. The same can be said of the burger. We asked for medium rare and that is actually what we got. It was juicy and served on the brioche bun with aioli, onion jam, arugula, gruyere and of course bacon. We went with the salad for the side, though really just get fries. The burger was one of the better ones I've had in this town and makes a perfect compliment to the the whole setting. And when you pair either one of these with an ice cold beer--of which they have many to choose from--the food really hits a home run (get it--sports bar? home run? ugh okay whatever).
The menu has many interesting choices including pork chop on a stick that I look forward to trying! Even though it's a bit of a haul to get to from my current neighborhood I really liked this place and if I'm going out to a bar, this is the one I'm going to--good beer, really good food, fun atmosphere. For now it's a winner all around.