Party Earth Review Part live music venue and part DJ haunt, El Rio also hosts film and art showcases, comedy acts, burlesque routines, salsa nights, karaoke, impromptu jams, and loads of neighborhood fundraisers, making it a go-to spot for... ... read full review
3158 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
BART: 24th Street Mission
MUNI F, J Lines: 30th Street & Dolores Street
M–Th, Sa–Su 5pm–2am, F 4pm–2am; Sa–Su 1pm–2am during summer
Mission, San Francisco –
Part live music venue and part DJ haunt, El Rio also hosts film and art showcases, comedy acts, burlesque routines, salsa nights, karaoke, impromptu jams, and loads of neighborhood fundraisers, making it a go-to spot for a crazy quilt of San Francisco’s eclectic populace.
Old regulars with pruney skin sit by the entrance in the front room, sipping PBRs alongside greasy-haired skinny hipsters, while butch-looking girls battle effeminate guys on the shuffleboard table toward the back. Dolled-up girlfriends of both guys and gals order up bad 80s hits at the jukebox, perhaps rooting for the Middle Eastern tourists who wandered in to battle the preppy jocks over a game of pool – such is the crazy crowd that so often comes.
Those with grumbling stomachs can make their way to the spacious patio where, depending on the night, they’ll find barbecue or free oysters on the half shell waiting for them on one of the many picnic tables. Behind the patio, a second room features an open dance floor that draws an energetic mix of horn-rimmed post-grads, buttoned-down young professionals, blue-mohawked punks, and drunken law students as DJs spin, bands play, some dude tells jokes, or women shake their tasseled boobies.
On the odd chance patrons pay a cover charge for the live shows, they can feel a bit better about it knowing the money is likely destined for a local charity – and if there’s a group of first-time visitors walking through, they’re likely destined to be in awe of what El Rio has in store.
Casual neighborhood young professionals, standard Mission hipsters, gay couples, straight couples, curious couples, punks, post-grads, adventurous prepsters, tourists, and grumpy old regulars, mid 20s to 40+.
DJs spin mostly funk, house, and R&B. Varied performance days feature live bands playing lots of alt rock, though acoustic melodies and avant-garde instrumentals aren’t unheard of. Karaoke on Wednesdays, burlesque shows on Fridays, and salsa lessons on second and fourth Sundays. Sporadic art and comedy showcases. Check venue calendar for latest lineup. Jukebox. Shuffleboard and pool table. Free Wi-Fi.
Free barbecue on Fridays and Sundays and free oysters on Fridays, otherwise no food, though other special food events are sometimes held and patrons are welcome to bring in their own grub. Cash only. ATM on site. Happy Hour all day M and Tu–F 5–8pm.
Cover charge for back room $5–$10, though usually only for fundraising events. Food items from visiting caterer $3–$6. Beer $3–$5, cocktails $3–$5+, mixed drinks $4. Pool table $1, shuffleboard free.
Anything goes: leather body suits à la Trinity from the Matrix, jeans, t-shirts, tutus, purple wigs, Stetsons, salsa dresses, solid color zip-up hoodies, trench coats with hopefully some article of clothing underneath, polos, khakis, come as you are.
Fridays for the burlesque shows and Sundays for salsa dancing are always safe bets for a festive and loud crowd, or whenever there’s an event of interest going on.
Baby Blues BBQ (3149 Mission Street) across the street offers huge helpings of pre-dance-party sustenance, giving patrons the much-needed endurance to soak up El Rio for all that it’s worth.