Though their sick, sick synchronized dance moves in the video for "The Competition" may have you believing that the Dodos are nothing more than a couple pretty boys plucked from the ether by a Lou Pearlman-type to make teenage girls swoon, their decade plus making beautiful homespun pop music should be enough to convince you otherwise. (Their latest album, INDIVID—out now on Polyvinyl—also happens to be their best.) These guys—Meric Long and Logan Kroeber—have been around and know some things. And so when we were looking for tips on great times to be had in San Francisco, the group's hometown, they were at the top of the list. Here Kroeber tells us the best places to eat, drink, and play in the city, which he says can still surprise you.
What neighborhood do you live in? What are some of your go to spots there?
I live in the Mission, kind of Outer Mission near Bernal Heights. The places I go most are Precita Park and Bernal Hill, beautiful outdoorsy spots embedded in the city. The Makeout Room too: Friends are always playing there, and it has good dancing and DJs and booths to sit and talk. Los Panchos for some pupusas or flautas.
What do you love about San Francisco?
I love that when it was an extremely rare seventy degree evening last week that a completely nude woman strolled out of a nice neighborhood and walked through the park like it was no big deal. I love that I saw some mostly naked guys out on the street with sequin cock sleeves loving life and spreading joy. I love that SF still draws freaks to it, good and bad. I love how much music, dancing, comedy, and art is going on at all times. It is an extremely beautiful place.
How has the city changed over the years?
Since I've been here, it's gotten a lot harder to pay rent just being an artist/naked guy/slacker/what have you. Or pay the bills being a business that caters to that clientele. Besides that, not that much has changed, at least in my little micro-neighborhood. There are still tons of sketchy things happening at all times; now it just costs more to experience it or view it from a fancy restaurant window.
Say we're visiting San Francisco for the first time. What are three food spots we should hit up before I leave?
La Palma Mexicatessen, for delicious carnes and salsas in bulk to go or a sope dining in. Kingdom of Dumpling for great Chinese. And even though I think branding your restaurant in the image of a horrible dictator is corny and clueless, I love the steamed bao at the Chairman. These are all fairly cheap options. For something a lil fancier, I'd say La Ciccia or La Nebbia for Sardinian food.
What are some of your favorite spots in the city for shopping?
I don't go shopping that much, but if I was gonna recommend an area to someone else, I'd say Hayes Valley. I walked down the main drag on Hayes a few weeks ago and was kinda shocked at the number of boutiques all in a row. Just a guess.
What should all visitors to San Francisco know before they come to town? What should they expect?
The classic advice is to bring layers, and I'd have to agree. Just when it gets warm, the fog comes in, and it gets hella windy and cold. Then after that settles down, it gets humid and still, and you'll be sweating on your late night bike ride. Gotta be able to adapt. You have one night out in SF to have a drink. Where you headed?
Probably El Rio. It has a huge back patio that feels like it's your friend's backyard. It has ping pong sometimes, screenings, lots of live music, dancing inside, and a diverse crowd.
The next morning, you wake up with a massive hangover. Where you going to refuel? Any great breakfast/ coffee spots come to mind?
I'm not a fan of the marathon brunch (or hangovers!), so I'd hit up Mission Pie or Arizmendi Bakery. Both have good coffee and wholesome options of the sweet or savory variety, and they're both really progressive businesses.
Anything else outsiders should know about San Francisco?
People might still think of this place as a hippie wonderland, or see it as a gleaming tech metropolis, and both of those narratives are available to be found. But SF is a gnarly place. Be prepared to see some human feces when you least expect it.
Read the rest of the VICE Guide to San Francisco here.