Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café

Dive Bar
Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café Frozen in a state of perpetual disorder, Specs' 12 Adler Museum Café is a chaotically-themed little dive where North Beach's historic Beat vibe lives on. San Francisco United States 37.79754 -122.406151
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Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café - Dive Bar in San Francisco.
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Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Frozen in a state of perpetual disorder, Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café is a chaotically-themed little dive where North Beach’s historic Beat vibe lives on. With its ramshackle furniture and disorganized collection of city... ... read full review

  • Metro:

    MUNI F Line: The Embarcadero & Broadway‎

  • Phone:

    415-421-4112

  • Hours:

    M–F 4:30pm–2am, Sa–Su 5pm–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café Review

The Scene

Frozen in a state of perpetual disorder, Specs' 12 Adler Museum Café is a chaotically-themed little dive where North Beach's historic Beat vibe lives on.

Frozen in a state of perpetual disorder, Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café is a chaotically-themed little dive where North Beach’s historic Beat vibe lives on.

With its ramshackle furniture and disorganized collection of city history, Specs’ is a bohemian paradise that’s worlds away from the porn peddlers and strip joints just up the street. A cigar-store Indian statue, an Egyptian mummy wearing glasses, and hundreds of newspaper clippings are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of décor, which also includes a collection of nautical memorabilia and animal bones in glass cases.

Even the regulars – comprised mostly of aging intellectuals and the old guard who make up the neighborhood’s hefty Italian population – probably discover something new each time they walk in, whether it’s the flags draped from the ceiling or the dried walrus testicles above the bar.

North Beach is a major weekend party scene, so come Friday the joint is always packed with a younger mob of hipsters, wannabe poets, and “hippies” born long after the 60s, but bartenders are known for swiftly booting anybody who gets too rowdy, and the boisterous conversation is more often centered around art or politics than pop culture.

A cross between a museum and a schizophrenic’s shopping spree, Specs’ 12 Adler Museum Café gives its creative patrons plenty to talk about.

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Tip from Jonah:

Specs’ is hidden in an alcove between two much bigger buildings, so the William Saroyan Place alley – formerly called Adler – is easy to miss. Just look east directly across Columbus Avenue from the front door of City Lights Books and you’ll see it.

  • Crowd

    Literary types, intellectual college kids, hipsters, former and current hippies, old North Beach Italians, and still-cool executive types up from the Financial District, early 20s to late 60s+.

  • Entertainment / Music

    A gruff older gentleman plunks down classic saloon tunes on the thrashed piano on many random nights, as well as most weekends. Playlist of mostly classic rock, folk, and tons of Billy Joel and Elton John.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Baskets of cheese and crackers. Cash only.

  • Prices

    Cheese and crackers $5. Beer $3–$5, wine $5, shots and cocktails $5–$8.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes: black berets and turtlenecks to plaid lumberjack shirts and faded jeans.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Anytime to check out the ambiance, or late Fridays and Saturdays when Spec’s stays pretty chill as the rest of North Beach goes into full rager overdrive.

  • Close By

    City Lights Bookstore (261 Columbus Avenue) is the epicenter of North Beach’s beat culture, and a must to round out any trip to the neighborhood.

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