Who knew the Rite Spot had been around for 60 years? Everyone but me, that’s who. I’m horribly ashamed that I’d never been inside this corner dive bar that I’d always wondered about, until now. I had no idea that in its murky depths there were also white table-clothed tables, an eclectic, ever-changing wine selection, local art on the walls, non-douchey locals, a real community scene, and food that is a few cuts above regular old bar food. I was so excited when the BF suggested we check it out that we went the very next day.
Unfortunately, I got NO pics the first time. They were holding a memorial for a beloved bartender, and it was super-packed. It took quite a while for our food to come out, so I lost all the light. But there were was live music supplied by several different local musicians, drinks were a-flowin’, and good juju was in the air.
Their menu skews Eyetalian, but there are tons of other things to order besides pasta. We split an order of corn dog bites. Delish — you definitely need these in your life, stat! And I had the patty melt with crinkle-cut fries — one of the finer patty melts I’ve had. Maybe it was the stunningly perfect martini I was sipping with it — made with St. George gin — but that was one helluva patty melt. And you notice I didn’t say gin martini, because that would be redundant. This martini was crisp and classic, icy as my heart, bone-dry, served in a regular-sized martini glass, and not in the giant fish bowls of today where you can only toss one back before you’ve reached the State of Blotto. At the Rite Spot, I enjoyed a glass of red and three martinis before I reached that state. The BF got the red-sauce spag and meatballs, and he liked it, more power to him. We stayed and enjoyed the music and the general joyous ambiance. We had such a good time, we knew we’d come right back.
On our second, “official,” visit, we arrived in time to catch some light from the high-placed windows and, of course, ordered the corn dog bites again. Oh lordy lord, why get anything else, ever?
In fact, we went fried-happy, this time. After the corn dogs, we shared the tater tots with cheese and bacon.
Do you see why these are so good — the judicious amount of bacon? Yes, I said judicious! Nothing overwhelmed in this basket of crunchy goodness.
We split a cheeseburger, too, which was super flavorful, if not super juicy.
And you can’t go wrong with those fries. Fried, fried and more fried.
Our one mistake was trying to add some greenery to our dinner.
The Caesar was, unfortunately, quite bland. Lesson learned! Do not deviate from the fried, people!
I showed restraint and only had one martini this evening, and a glass of sauvignon blanc. It is such a pleasure to go to a dive bar that serves decent wine.
On our third visit, we split an order of fried ravioli with marinara sauce to start.
Now, this is something I probably haven’t had since I visited a TGIFs, maybe back in the ’80s. But the BF lit up like a goddamned Christmas tree when I pointed them out to him. And they were good! The texture of fried pasta is a little strange to me, and overall the dish wasn’t as hot as it could have been, but this was totally fine bar food.
The BF got a fried chicken sandwich.
Sadly, the sandwich had just too much bread obliterating a not-crispy-enough fried boneless chicken breast. The fries were good, still. There was salad on the plate, too, with more-than-fine blue cheese dressing.
I ordered a fish taco for my main.
Tilapia — pretty darned tasty, but you have to eat it quickly while the batter stays crispy. And the bartender helped me pick out a not-at-all-oaky California chardonnay to go with (she had an equal aversion).
All in all, I want to say that the food may not be the real point at Rite Spot, though we’ve actually loved three or four items on these few visits. I’d come back and order just those corn dog bites, or that beefalicious patty melt. The BF would try some more pasta.
Mostly, I love the ambiance. There’s warmth here, with equal amounts of cool, but no attitude. There’s live music almost every night of the week. Sometimes comedy. Progressive social commentary on the walls. And absolutely killer martinis.
Thank goodness Rite Spot has stood the dive bar test of time. We’ll be back.
Rite Spot Café
2099 Folsom St. (corner of 17th)
San Francisco, CA, 94110