Have you ever made one of those ‘things I want to do before I die’ lists populated with sweet little goals that almost always include: 22. Dance like no one’s watching at least two times; and 39. Start a real-life Babysitter’s Club? Well, an evening spent at the Mission Hill Saloon, located in the hot new neighborhood DeeMiShaPot (deep Mission shallow Potrero) will not get you any closer to crossing off anything on that list, unless you’re like me, and number three happens to be ‘get called ‘lil mama’ without a hint of irony.’

This is the kind of place where one might launch a political campaign, or cry over a lost girlfriend; it’s just that dark.They say that hipsterism fetishizes the authentic, but maybe the authentic just irritates hipsters’ eyes. Either way, Mission Hill is so authentic that you can hardly tell if the people there are hipsters or original gangsters, and you kind of don’t want to find out, because you think it’s probably the latter. And honestly, for $3 well-drinks most people will fetishize just about anything.

The most striking thing about Mission Hill is that the bartenders are nice. You know how when you walk into one of those ‘urban’ coffee shops and try to order a grande caramel frapuccino, the barista always mutters something like, “This isn’t Mexico or Starbucks.” At Mission Hill the bartenders keep their opinions to themselves even when you say “half margarita/half mojito/sugar-free mix/three limes.” The last time I got this little attitude was when I started buying my espresso at McDonalds, which is a good place to go if you don’t like attitude or espresso.

Since the bar has black walls, a roaming rottweiler, and bartenders with knuckle tattoos we inevitably started trading ‘first time I saw a gun’ stories, but since we were for the most part suburban white kids from Washington state these were pretty lame, “The first time I saw a gun I was 25, and it was a watergun!”

This is the kind of place where one might launch a political campaign, or cry over a lost girlfriend; it’s just that dark. A lot of good-natured ogling goes on, and only a cynic would say there’s no such thing as that. Which is one thing that might be said about the clientele at Mission Hill, they are for the most part an optimistic bunch, not quite perky like Doris Day, but demonstrating a more human optimism kind of like Charles Bukowski after the completion of a particularly elegant poem: generous with their personalities, a little drunk, and looking for something cute.

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