Remembering San Francisco’s Ace Cafe

Dailies -



A couple years back, Grant and I found ourselves in San Francisco in need of a place to drink. Grant was being stalked by a creepy little dude who really liked his jeans. I find the Bay Area’s pervasive middle class, white culture extremely depressing. Zeitgeist is over. Where to go? How about a bar where people knew our names and the moonshine was free?

San Francisco’s Ace Cafe had some sort of affiliation with the tourist trap in London, but make no mistake, this was a proper drinking man’s establishment. Well, drinking bikers anyways. Like any good bar, it was dark and musty inside, with more than a little air of an English pub to it. When you walked in, everyone at the bar turned around and looked at you.

During a night there, we heard and told plenty of two-wheeled tall tales, made some new friends and got properly shit faced.

Earlier this year, the landlord gave The Ace the boot, looking for a tenant prepared to pay higher rent. Word is, Rob, the proprietor, is looking for a new venue. Until he finds one, we have this video.

  • BigRooster

    That was great. Thanks for posting.

  • Grant Ray

    I totally forgot about creepy jean guy, probably thanks to Rob’s moonshine.


    • Wes Siler

      Hey. Nice jeans.

  • stickfigure

    I really wanted to like the Ace, but I never could get over the dense cigarette smoke. Zeitgeist at least keeps it outdoors.

    The new proprietor (my oncetime employer) has some interesting plans for the space. It won’t be a biker bar, but I’m pretty certain it won’t suck.

  • pinkyracer

    you’re so right about frisco. I’m so glad I made it out of there with my soul intact.

    Grant, were they Deth Killer jeans? Cuz I get enough creeps following me in the jeans I wear now. I don’t need extra creep magnetism.

  • gregc

    It was a great place to watch the races.

  • dmitry

    FUCK YEH..ace was the only place to go. it will be back

  • Ankur V

    Having never had a chance to travel out west yet, I hope this place is back in a new venue by the time I do make it out there. In the meantime, I’ll try to look for a similar type of place here in NYC.

  • Rick

    Not a biker bar, but a cool (or downright chilly!) place for hot, cold, or sudsy beverages is the original Java Beach, on Judah Street at the Great Highway. I dig its cross-section of humanity and Irish roots, the swirling fog and salty surf mist. Brrrrrrrr.

    Semi-related, does SF enforce the ordinance against parking motorcycles on sidewalks? What used to be a handy solution to congestion might get you a co$tly ticket from Lovely Rita, Meter Maid.

    • stickfigure

      Sporadically. Often enough that you can’t avoid tickets, but not often enough that you’ll actually stop doing it.

      It would not surprise me in the slightest if they have calculated the optimal ticketing frequency which maximizes total revenue.

  • TuffGong

    That was some sad shit.

  • Jon B.

    And now only Benders remains (and all the cool shit in Oakland).

  • Phil

    Damn, Boston needs better bars. Sad to see it close up, but I bet they’ll find a way to bring it back.

    Thumbs up for the CB-1 in the bar, shame it didn’t close it out with a HFL style burnout in the WC.

  • caferacer

    The original Ace Cafe of SF was around in the mid-90s on Folsom where Wish is now. A very decent hangout for the 59 Club crowd, back before “cafe racers” had fucking header wrap, wood grips, and all this other steampunk garbage. Miss that place…

  • Scott Pargett

    Watched many a moto-gp there.

    Hopefully something else rises from the ashes. Does anyone know of a cool place in LA?

    • Wes Siler

      If you find something, let us know.

      • Grant Ray

        Yeah, I’m having serious withdrawals for hanging at Bar Matchless for the races.

        • nymoto

          I love NY, haha – sorry had 2

      • Scott Pargett

        I partied with the Cretins at their clubhouse a little while ago, they’re down near Koreatown. Prob the closest thing I can think of. Warm fellows, hard riders.. opposing garages full of all kinds of race builds. They have a full bar and great view of the skyline. We should roll by on a thursday sometime.

  • TheZakken

    I’m pretty bummed this place is gone. Now if I want to watch races on a big screen I have to schlep my ass over to Dianese.

    • cynic

      What’s it like watching races there? This last weekend I had to make do at a bar where my friend and I were the only ones watching the race… couldn’t hear a damn thing. At least they were nice enough to put it on for us.

      • TheZakken

        Actually it isn’t bad. They set up a bunch of folding chairs and have free sodas and espresso. Yu get to browse gear during the commercials and shoot the shit with local yokels.
        What makes me laugh is seeing half the crowd in full leathers like they just rode over from Infineon sitting in directors chairs for 2 or 3 hours. Hey bro, be sure to get yer knee down on the way to the bathroom. But seriously, its not that bad, just the lack of booze is a downer.

        • cynic

          I’ll have to swing by for the MotoGP race in April.

  • Chris Davis

    Another victim of the Rent Too Damn High.

  • Sasha Pave

    More like another victim of across the street. I’m not against a proper bar for the porn king, but shit, not at the expense of a treasure like the Ace. Farewell.

    • Mike

      Well thats disappointing. Both folks I know are big m/c peeps.

      When did Zeitgeist become ‘over’? I suppose its been too long since I’ve hung out in the city. Got tired of dodging redlight-running cabs & crackheads stealing sparkplugs.

      • Mark D [EX500]

        Thinking the same thing; drinking outside at a bar with 40-ish beers on tap is always cool.

        Also, my buddy literally just got the spark plugs stolen from his bike. Crackheads strike again.

      • TheZakken

        When the Marina crowd thought they could sneak into the mission by way of Zeitgeist.

        • Mark D [EX500]

          Ugh, Marina crowd ::Shudder::

  • cynic

    Last I checked the Location is still empty.. Man I miss watching races there.

  • nymoto

    That was a proper send off. Good luck Rob.

  • oldblue

    Great send-off for a great bloke, it seems.

    We still have cafes here where you ride up, park, and by the time you get inside your drink and your food are on the table because the people who own the place know you, know your bike, know what you order.

    I should probably appreciate that more than I do – seems it’s getting pretty rare nowadays.