The Ave Bar has been a fixture of Ocean Avenue for decades. Located between Capitol and Faxon avenues, it draws a loyal crowd of locals, and, after a makeover, has been luring in people from other neighborhoods.
For Sunset resident Darryl Jackson, its four star rating on Yelp provides enough incentive to try it out.
“I saw it on Yelp,” Jackson said. “It looked like a hidden gem.”
Inside, the exposed wood walls and corrugated metal ceiling complement the bar’s focus on straightforward drinks and personal service.
It’s what keeps people coming back.
Owners married partners Lucia Fuentes Zarate and Bomani Caungula took it over in 2006 and shortened its name from the Avenue Club to The Ave. The name change was “to give it a little flavor,” Caungula said.
They have a small staff of five people who will mix up any type of cocktail you could ask for but they are particularly proud of their selection of microbrew beers from San Francisco and northern California producers.
It’s part of a “drink local, spend local” ethos, Fuentes Zarate said.
“If you’re into supporting the local economy, then this is where you need to drink,” Caungula said. “This is a bar about San Francisco.”
But don’t call it a “dive”.
“My liquor and beer elevates it above a dive bar,” Caungula said, who will drive up the coast to pick up a keg or two from local brewers.
And when it runs out, it’s out until the next trip.
Their current selection includes Pine Street’s Atom Splitter, El Segundo’s stout, Third Street’s rye ale and Clown Shoes’ Muffin Top, a Continued from the Front Page Belgian style triple India pale ale that boasts a 10 percent alcohol content.
Even if you’re not a microbrew connoisseur, the friendly atmosphere in the bar will probably draw you in.
People in the neighborhood often come in to unwind before heading home after work during the week, Fuentes Zarate said, and sometimes they even get reservations for parties on the weekends.
For 10 years Mona Lisa Mares has been going to The Ave to enjoy her drink of choice —Tecate.
“I really enjoy coming here when there’s nobody,” Mona Lisa Mares said, because the bartenders are great. “You feel comfortable here.”
This article first appeared in The Light’s May 2014 print edition.