How To Throw A Killer B-Day Bash In S.F.

Who doesn’t love a good party? In case you haven’t noticed, S.F. definitely does. Seems like we’re always looking for an excuse to get down with our bad selves. Any weekend in the city, a wrong turn could wash you into a sea of costumed celebrators — ending up right next to the one naked dude floating upstream.
So, you can imagine the conundrum when the very thought of planning our own birthday bash makes us go a little dizzy in the head. How can we possibly compete? Well, this year, instead of throwing in the towel and forgoing one of the most important days of your life — we’re helping you concoct a custom celebration that will have your friends talking about how much fun they had for months. And, really, isn’t that the best present of all?
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Photo: Via Novela
Boozing At The Bar Or Dancing Up In The Club

SoMa’s new kid on the block, library-themed Novela delivers cool and stylish décor paired with some damn-good drinks. With colorful books lining the walls and reservations for up to 10 available online, this is the perfect backdrop for an intellectually stimulating gathering of your besties.
Novela, 662 Mission Street (between New Montgomery and Annie streets); 415-896-6500.

With its epic sound system and amazing lineup of DJs and shows, Mezzanine will suit those in search of rolling with a big crew and dancing their way into their next year. Bottle service starts at $200 and will give you and your gaggle of guests a nice home base when you’re not out crushing the dance floor.
Mezzanine, 444 Jessie Street (between Mint and 6th streets); 415-625-8880.

Amazing artisanal cocktails? Check. Nice long banquets for chillin’ with your crew? Check. Pool Table? Check. Central location? Check. Photo booth? Double check! Send out the invites and call it a day, because Blackbird, the Castro’s favorite neighborhood bar hits all the majors necessary for a boozy birthday bash with all your buds.
Blackbird, 2124 Market Street (between Church and Sanchez streets); 415-503-0630.

15 Romolo
North Beach’s number one watering hole for handcrafted hooch is a coup for celebrations — you can dress up or down and feel totally at home. Its open layout is scattered with booths and tables just waiting to be taken over. Plus, if your crew gets a little too rowdy, you can fill up on some delicious bites from the kitchen.
15 Romolo, 15 Romolo Place (between Broadway and Fresno streets); 415-398-1359.

The Hideout at Dalva
Tucked in the back room of Dalva, right smack in the thick of the 16th Street strip in the Mission, is a super not-so-secret speakeasy-esque spot worthy of gathering your crew for a night of cocktail-infused dive-y debauchery. Warning: The Hideout’s awesome music may lead to spontaneous dance parties.
Dalva, 3121 16th Street (between Guerrero and Valencia streets); 415-252-7740.
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Photo: Via Mission Bowling Club
Entertainment Totally Included

Nothing says I love you quite like your friends embarrassing themselves in your honor. Thankfully, the joyous world of karaoke has streamlined that process. You can go the public-shame route and invite all your peeps down to join you at Encore Karaoke Lounge or The Mint — or let everyone go really wild in private at a rent--your-own-room spot in Japantown. The only kicker here is since it’s your party, you absolutely have to sing. Tip: TLC’s No Scrubs is a terrible selection. Don’t do it.
Encore Karaoke Lounge, 1550 California Street, 2nd floor (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-775-0442. The Mint, 1942 Market Street (between Laguna and Guerrero streets); 415-626-4726.

Dinner And A Show At Great American Music Hall
Love indie bands? Get ready to chock up some major cool points with this party plan! If there’s a show at the Great American Music Hall around your birthday, it’s an excellent spot to throw down a celebration at a concert. For an additional $25, you can get dinner with the show and your party gets priority entrance to guarantee seating in the reserved balcony area.
Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell Street (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-885-0750.

Take A Class At Workshop
If partaking in something a little more creative is up your alley, gather up to 25 of your friends, head over to Workshop and take a group class! Your art-lovin’ friends will be stoked to partake is some screen-printing shenanigans. They can even make you custom gifts like obnoxious and hilarious T-shirts or beer coozies. More of a food fanatic? Host a pickling party and walk away with jars full of carrots, beans, pickles, garlic, jalapenos, okra, and more!
Workshop, 1798 McAllister Street (between Broderick and Baker streets); 415-874-9186.

Mission Bowling Club
For the ultimate throwback to your youth birthday party, roll up to Mission Bowling Club to knock 'em dead with beers, burgers, and, of course, bowling! Reservations are a must and the lanes go for between $35 and $55 an hour and can accommodate up to eight people. With some of the best bar food in the Mission, your pals are sure to have a jolly good time!
Mission Bowling Club, 3176 17th Street (between Shotwell Street and Van Ness Avenue); 415-863-2695.

Funkytown: Tuesday Night Roller Disco
Seems like your birthday might be the perfect excuse to get all your friends laced up in rollerskates and cruising around Inner Mission S.F. (formerly CellSpace) bobbing and weaving to the best funk, disco, and R&B. The joint is open for rolling on Tuesday nights with interactive performances nightly by the Black Rock Rollers who will help you get down with your bad self. It’s $10 to get in, skates will cost you $5, and you’re welcome to BYOB.
Funkytown at Inner Mission SF, 2050 Bryant Street (between 18th and 19th streets); 415-203-2674.
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Photo: Via Chambers Eat + Drink
Fancy Pants Intimate Dinner

Foreign Cinema
The romantic movie buffs in your life will eat up dining on some of California’s freshest fare while taking in a classic movie in Foreign Cinema’s outdoor patio. Parties of up to 10 are welcome outside, with a menu created by the chef for larger groups. You’ll really feel like a screen star when all eyes turn away from Hollywood and onto you, as you blow out your candles. Eat your heart out, starlets!
Foreign Cinema, 2534 Mission Street (between 21st and 22nd streets); 415-648-7600.

Bar Tartine
When throwing an intimate dinner party at one of the most delectable restos in the Mission, Bar Tartine, the chefs will prepare a variety of their signature savory dishes for your guests, including dessert. For $62 bucks a pop, it’s definitely not cheap, but worth it for the atmosphere alone, and plus, you’ll feel like the belle of the bougie ball when everyone is toasting in your honor! Tip: Call a month ahead to lock down that reservation!
Bar Tartine, 561 Valencia Street (between 17th and 16th streets); 415-487-1600.

Chambers Eat + Drink
Chamber’s Eat + Drink keeps it crazy, sexy, and cool, allowing you to spend the night’s celebration under one roof. You and your guests can cozy up for cocktails in a cabana on the pool-lit patio before being served a family=style dinner in the dining room. If you’re looking to go big, no worries, they can accommodate 12 to 40 guests starting at $50 a head. After dinner, everyone can head into the lounge to “be amazing” and keep the party going!
Chambers Eat + Drink, 601 Eddy Street (between Larkin and Polk streets); 415-829-2316.

Want your guests to swoon at the sight of a perfectly magical candlelit atrium, embellished with climbing vines and olive tress? Yeah, we thought so. The Marina’s Italian hot spot A16’s back patio is the epitome of California cool and can host up to 12 guests for dinner, or be bought out for the evening. Prices start at $400 plus $55 per guest for a five-course menu. Seriously though, this is the day of your birth, you are worth every penny for this unrivaled ambiance.
A16, 2355 Chestnut Street (between Divisadero and Scott streets); 415-771-2216.

25 Lusk
Turn up the sexy swank meter on your soirée real quick when you lock down a table for your troupe at SoMa's uber-chic 25 Lusk. With a $750 minimum for large parties, you and a dozen guests will be sitting pretty at its modern Ogden or Clark table with access to your very own private cocktail room – the perfect location for your end-of-the-night birthday kisses!
25 Lusk, 25 Lusk Street (at Townsend Street); 415-495-5875.
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Photographed by Christine Ting
Daytime Or Outdoor Fiesta

Bonfire at Ocean Beach
As a city, we have some of the best ocean access and there is nothing better than taking advantage and kicking off your next year with friends, the sky, and the sea. But, in order to pull a successful nighttime-beach excursion, one must be prepared. Layer up, grab a comforter, bring along some wood, a few thermoses of hot cider or cocoa, and tell your friends to head west with a few beverages of their choice.
Ocean Beach, Great Highway San Francisco.

Picnic in Golden Gate Park
While we might spend a lot of time soaking up the sunny days in Dolores Park, just a stone’s throw away is one of the most spectacular parks in the country — GGP! If you’re looking for a mellow mix of sunshine, and want to chill for your big day, a picnic in the park is the way to go. Both the Botanical Gardens and the AIDS Memorial Grove have gorgeous fields worth nestling in for the afternoon – and aren’t too deep in. Stock up at Bi-Rite or Whole Foods and have each guest bring a blanket-friendly nosh to add to the menu.
Aids Memorial Grove, Bowling Green Drive. Botanical Garden, 1199 9th Avenue; 415-661-1316.

Drinks on the back patio at Virgil’s Sea Room
Tucked in the back of Mission Street’s newest dive destination is a super cool, urban patio that will have you saying, “Zeitgeist who?” Virgil’s Sea Room’s backyard has picnic tables galore and is heat-lamp equipped, so our city’s sometimes serious lack of sunshine won’t spoil your outdoor party plansies.
Virgil’s Sea Room, 3152 Mission Street (between Powers and Fair avenues); 415-829-2233.

Off The Grid: Picnic at the Presidio
Does your gang as a whole come with a hard-to-please palate? Well, then bunkering down for the afternoon at the food-truck mecca Off The Grid is just what the birthday doctor ordered. Every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., folks from S.F.’s favorite eateries merge in a field to feed the masses. All you really need to plan this party is a time, a patch of grass, and a big blanket. Everything else is à la carte!
Off The Grid: Picnic at the Presidio, 103 Montgomery Street in the Presidio; 415-339-5888.

Garden Creamery
Oh, birthdays. If there is any good time to regress into the joys of youth, it’s when you're rounding good ol’ 30. Why not choose the one thing that literally screams celebration (and allows you to eat your feelings if that’s what you need. Hey, it’s your day!). Enter Garden Creamery. The cute-as-a-button food truck will come park outside your party stocked with soft serve, popsicles, and even ice cream sandwiches! I scream, you scream…oh great, now you’re 30 and everyone is screaming.
Garden Creamery, location varies, book your truck here!
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Photographed by Ashley Batz
Theme Parties

Don Your Best '60s Garb for a Cocktail Party at Specs
When looking to take a giant step back in time (and perhaps erase a few questionable moments in your twenties), it’s time to head over to North Beach’s famed Spec's Twelve Adler Museum and Café. The old-school, eclectic dive is the perfect spot to invite your friends to play their roles in your Mad Men fantasy for the night, donning mod minis and shifts and throwing back a few stiff martinis.
Spec's Twelve Adler Museum and Café, 12 William Saroyan Place (between Kearny Street and Broadway Avenue); 415-421-4112.

Dress Like a Pirate and Drink Rum at Smuggler’s Cove
If you have a knack for theatrics and love guzzling rum, throw on an eye patch, grab your mates, and hunt for birthday treasure in the trove of Smuggler’s Cove. There's over 70 rum cocktails on the menu, including punch bowls to share with your boozy buddies — ahoy! This place marks the birthday spot.
Smuggler’s Cove, 650 Gough Street (between McAllister and Ash streets); 415-869-1900.

Rock Stars and Supermodels
Linda Evangelista? Axl Rose? What about Bridgette Bardot? These are important questions your friends will be texting you when they find out about your totally awesome idea of having everyone dress up as their favorite model or rock star on your day. To set the scene, you’ll want to head somewhere glittery, edgy, with the potential to get really crazy. We recommend Kozy Kar or Project One.
Kozy Kar, 1548 Polk Street (between California and Sacramento streets); 415-346-5699. Project One, 251 Rhode Island Street (between 15th and 16th streets); 415-938-7173.

1920s Prohibition at Bourbon & Branch
The only thing prohibited at your 1920s-themed party is having a terrible time! Throw on some fringe, get all gussied up, make a reservation, and you’re promised to have a helluva birthday hiding out in one of Bourbon & Branch’s private rooms, sipping well-crafted cocktails, and treating friends to a roaring good time.
Bourbon & Branch, 501 Jones Street (between O’Farrell and Geary streets); 415-346-1735.

Nautical Dinner On Forbes Island
Only in the Bay can you venture out in the middle of the water for a fantasy dining experience on a floating island. Seriously, old school to the max, Forbes Island is a real San Francisco treat. Whether you want to dine above or under sea level, tell your friends to throw on those striped boat necks and join you for an escapade they’ll never forget. After this once in a lifetime dinner, you’ll feel good letting your last year sail away.
Forbes Island, Pier 41; 415-951-4900.
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Photographed by Maria del Rio
Your Very Own Private Party

Trick Dog
It’s no secret we’re completely obsessed with 20th Street and at the epicenter is the Mission’s bar du jour, Trick Dog. Not only is the scene spectacular, but the drinks, the food, the staff, everything is top notch. Want to hear a little-known fact? You can rent out the mezzanine for your own personal birthday bash. It comes at the high price of $1,000 to $2,000 food and bev minimum (hey, big spender!) for the whole space or you can go the other route and do a smaller dinner table for 10 to 12. Just get there early for dinner, it doesn’t do ressies!
Trick Dog, 3010 20th Street (between Alabama and Florida streets); 415-471-2999.

Dear Mom
Many a birthday party has been spent inside the four walls of Dear Mom. There's a nice big bar, booths, and communal tables galore, so it’s a great space for rounding up your road dogs. While the internet jukebox (‘sup, Beyoncé on demand) and photo booth could clench the deal, it’s really the private back room that is first come first serve that makes this the spot to spend your DOB. It'll even provide small plates and full meals for the party. Call ahead and reserve it, ahem, for free.
Dear Mom, 2700 16th Street (between Folsom and Harrison streets); 415-625-3362.

Back Room at Homestead
In a quaint little wall-papered room in the back of Homestead, fork over $50 and you and 20 of your closest comrades can take over and create a private party that mirrors your personality. Give a ring to reserve and then bring in cake, candles, balloons, and even feel free to decorate the table. The coolest part (besides everyone paying attention to you, of course) is that 50 bucks goes to charity!
Homestead, 2301 Folsom Street (between 19th and 20th streets); 415-282-4663,

The Office at Churchill
Interested in throwing your own 100-person private rager? Well, upstairs at Churchill there’s The Office, a private space perfect for just that. For between $500 to $1,600, plus a $20 per person beverage package, you can go big in style, including a doorman to greet your guests, your party’s own bartenders, a state-of-the-art sound system, three HD TVs, a large projector screen (baby picture montage, anyone?), shuffle board, and even Wi-Fi.
Churchill, 198 Church Street (between Reservoir and Market streets); No phone.

With delightful and delicious Mexican food, over 100 tequilas on the menu, and a light-filled private dining area that can accommodate parties up to 75, the back room at Tacolicious in the Mission is ready to host your bright day with a fabulous fiesta! If you’re trying to recreate that Mexican-themed menu at home, they even do a hosted taco bar or you can get tons of grub to go for $12 per person.
Tacolicious, 741 Valencia Street (between 19th and 18th streets); 415-626-1344.