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Cheap Food, Drinks & Fun: SF Guardian’s 2010 “Hard Times Handbook”

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Friday, January 22, 2010 - 8:00 am to 11:59 pm | Cost: FREE

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This week’s cover story in the San Francisco Bay Guardian is the “2010 Hard Times Hand Book.” The issue (which hit streets on Wednesday Janaury 20th) has six articles and sidebars about finding cheap food, cheap drinks and cheap fun in San Francisco in 2010.

Pick up a copy at any street corner or book store in San Francisco, or read the full article online here… for free of course!

Funcheap’s own Johnny Funcheap wrote the featured article with tips on free concerts, free BART tickets, $5 movie nights, free pier crabbing lessons and more.  Here’s his picks for 2010:

Broke doesn’t mean bored
Eight great ways to have fun in San Francisco for $5 or less

By Johnny Funcheap
The San Francisco Bay Guardian (January 20-26, 2010) – Page 11

Living on a tight budget and still trying to have fun in San Francisco is a near impossible task. This is an expensive city, thanks to the reality that everyone wants to live in the tiny 49-square-mile cultural oasis — driving up rents and the cost of just about everything else.

Despite its reputation, the city is actually getting slightly more affordable, if ever so relatively. (In 2008 San Francisco actually fell in the rankings of most expensive cities in the U.S. from fourth to fifth.)

Leading the charge toward making the city a more affordable place to have fun are numerous businesses, government-run sites, and co-ops that are trying to survive in the recession themselves — and using big discounts and fun free events to try to lure you in.

Here’s a list of my favorite deals and freebies I’ve found so far for 2010.


Waving the flag high for nightlife in the Trendynob with its curved couches and velvet curtains is the cozy beer and wine bar Café Royale. This late-night venue (it’s open until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays) stages more than 20 nights of free events each month, an eclectic mix of live entertainment that includes jazz bands, Beatles karaoke, book readings, slam poetry, stand-up comedy, and even the odd accordion night. You can dine on small plates and noshables until the wee hours, and wash them down with a robust selection of wines by the glass and creatively yummy Soju cocktails like the Pom Pom and Creamsicle. And for billiards fans, Café Royale has one of the few three-quarter size tournament tables in San Francisco at just 75 cents a game. / 800 Post at Leavenworth. 415-441-4099. www.caferoyale-sf.com


More an arts and culture community hub than just a performance space, CounterPULSE serves as a home and venue for a diverse mix of local artists, dancers, and playwrights to practice and showcase their latest works. A majority of the events at this nonprofit theater (plays, dance performances, as well as classes and workshops) are free. For more elaborate productions that require tickets, CounterPULSE has a wonderful “no one turned away for lack of funds” policy. You can also get in free by donating a few hours of your time to the volunteer usher program. / 1310 Mission at Ninth St., 415-626-2060. www.counterpulse.org


Saving money on going out to the movies used to mean you had to blag your way to a cheap ticket using a long-expired student ID or arrive by lunchtime to save a few bucks on a matinee ticket. The historic Roxie Theater has done away with all of those shenanigans, at least on Monday nights, with cheaper-than-matinee prices ($5) to all films (except for the odd film festival or special screening when regular ticket prices still apply). This stalwart of the Mission District, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday, is an independent art-house theater that shows limited-run art, music, foreign, and documentary films on two small screens. / Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., 415-431-3611. www.roxie.com


You didn’t think BART — notoriously expensive for commuters — could be the source of cheap events, did you? Well, mybart.org, run by the transit system, lists a calendar of free events that take place close to BART stations. The site also gives you access to an constantly updated bevy of special discounts like two-for-one theater tickets, museum discounts, and heavily-discounted tickets to Warriors and Cal basketball games. For those of you who only respond to free, mybart.org also puts together ticket contests with different prizes each week, like the chance to win one of five preloaded $50 BART tickets. / www.mybart.org


Hell with Fisherman’s Wharf and its giant crab sign. Forget the pricey crab dinners at local restaurants. You can learn how to be your own crusty crab-fisher, right in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. The National Park Service staffers at the historic Fort Port (built in the 1850s) give free pier-crabbing demonstrations every Saturday morning from March to October. After the class, they’ll even loan you crabbing equipment so you can put your newly-learned skills to the test. Space is limited and advanced reservations are required. / Fort Point, Marine Drive, Saturdays, 10 a.m.–noon, March–Oct. (415) 556-1693 www.nps.gov/fopo


Feeling nostalgic? You can get a taste for the era when the Bay Area and the psychedelic music scene were the center of the rock ‘n’ roll universe at the Museum of Performance and Design’s free history exhibit “Something’s Happenin’ Here: Bay Area Rock ‘n’ Roll 1963-73.” On display at this one-of-a-kind exhibit are the full-size original painting that made in onto the Grateful Dead’s “Anthem in the Sun” album cover, costume pieces worn by stars like Janis Joplin and Sly Stone, and original posters from the Fillmore and the Avalon Ballroom, along with a collection of previously unseen rock photos. Visitors can also listen to rare audioclips and watch vintage film footage they probably never knew existed. Exhibit runs through Aug. 28. It’s free, but the museum suggests a $5 donation. Museum of Performance and Design, Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness, Fourth Floor. Wed.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. www.mpdsf.org


If you’re really looking for a blast from the past, check out the free exhibit at this little-known museum. Bookbinding is the art of physically assembling and sewing the pages and spine of a book by hand — a skill that was made essentially obsolete (at least, for the purpose of mass-production) with the dawning of the Industrial Revolution. But the nonprofit American Bookbinders Museum, part of a working bookbindery that still practices this art, documents the history of how books used to be put together with exhibits celebrating the skilled artisans who bound books, samples of vintage papers, and a maze of large and terrifying-looking 19th- and early 20th-century binding and cutting machines (many of which could cut off all your fingers in one go if you stood too close). / 1962 Harrison at 16th St., Saturdays, noon–4 p.m. and by appointment, (415) 710-9369. www.bookbindersmuseum.com


Unless you want to walk, there’s really no cheaper way to get around town than on a bicycle. And for the tens of thousands of San Franciscans who use bikes as their main mode of transportation, the Bike Coalition is a co-op knight in shining armor. The advocacy group, whose members successfully fought more than 200 miles of bike lanes in the city as well as bike access on Muni and BART, also puts on and sponsors a handful of events each month such as free urban cycling workshops to help you navigate the city streets safely, themed guided bike rides, and many other bike-friendly events. Membership starts at $35 per year, but many of their events are free for nonmembers or for a $5 donation. /  www.sfbike.org


Owned by former pro skater and X-Games judge Azikiwee Anderson, D-Structure in the Lower Haight blurs the line between retail store, art gallery and performance space in a big way. Every month, this self-described “lifestyle clothing brand culture store” lets local artists take over the space and use the entire store as their canvas. For launch parties, which take place several times each month, the merchandise displays of urban hoodies and t-shirts and hip beanies are pushed to the walls to make room for DJs and events that range from art openings with live painting to indie rock shows, hip hop album release parties and film screenings. And did we mention the open bar? During its nighttime events, most of which are free and open to the public, D-Structure has been known to bring in a truck load of beer; that’s what happened on New Year’s Eve. / 520 Haight, 415-252-8601, Mon.–Sat., noon–8 p.m.; Sundays, noon–6 p.m. www.d-structuresf.com

Disclaimer: Please double check event information with the event organizer as events can be canceled, details can change after they are added to our calendar, and errors do occur.

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Categories: *Top Pick*, Free Stuff, Literature, San Francisco