Aside from all the immensely unmissable gay bars and clubs in the vibrantly historic Castro District, there is one that rises above the rest due to its unique theme, exceptional food, and cozy atmosphere.
Hi Tops, located on 2247 Market Street, is the perfect sports bar that excels in kindly catering to both its queer and sports-loving community.
Established in 2012 by owners Jesse Woodward, Matt Kajiwara, and Dana Gleim in what was formerly Lime, Hi Tops quickly transformed the place into a casual sports bar that continues to remain now as a highly popular anchor in the heart of the Castro.
Brimming with colorful sports decor from reclaimed lockers to shuffleboards and walls lined with the most high-definition TVs, Hi Tops successfully delivers a welcoming atmosphere for sports fans and LGBTQ patrons alike, fostering both unity and awareness for what people may consider two different circles.
“Our goal was to open a neighborhood bar in the Castro, aimed toward the GLBT population who is either interested in or involved in sports," Woodward elaborated, stating that it's "an underserved niche in SF and in the neighborhood specifically.”
Woodward truly wanted to evoke a sense of comfort and camaraderie with Hi Tops, separating it from the other gay bars in the Castro that may be geared more for a party or more upscale atmosphere.
“It’s a gay bar where you can bring your parents," Woodward elucidates, clarifying how Hi Tops can be fun without being "stuffy" or too intense. "It’s friendly and welcoming, not intimidating and cliquey.”
Sparking inspiration from similar queer sports bars on the east coast such as the thriving Nellie's in Washington D.C., or Gym in New York, Hi Tops has truly established their own identity and devoted following. Hi Tops has received such high acclaim that they even opened a second location in Los Angeles' West Hollywood!
With a slogan of “Cold Pitchers, Hot Catchers," you can also guarantee they will deliver winning food, libations, and events themed in their Castro home's spirit.
We highly recommend ordering their warm soft pretzel, blackened Ahi tuna burger, or their housemade corndogs, especially when paired with their draft beer or inventive crafted cocktails.
They even serve their vodka-forward "Haterade" cocktail in a uniquely-branded sports drink container!
Another must-see event Hi Tops throws is their Gym Class Thursdays, complete with enjoyable pop and throwback hits as the music to which their bartop dancers smoothly gyrate and entertain to. The other days of the week are just as pleasurable, with trivia night on Tuesdays, bingo on Wednesdays, and more.
"Our clientele is the best and we are so happy to have great customers," Woodward proudly affirms when describing the positive impact their humble business brings to the equally radiant Castro.
Definitely stop in for their extraordinary beers, artisanal cuisine, and overall convivial atmosphere, either for the next game of your favorite sport on one of their numerous screens, or just to hang out in a superb crowd!
Hi Tops is open Monday through Wednesday from noon to midnight, Thursday and Friday until 2 a. m., and on the weekend starting at 11 a.m.
Photography by: John de Jong/Unsplash