When Esquire Magazine named Zeitgeist the "best bar in San Francisco," it noted that while "the bar seems angry...Zeitgeist is not an angry place. In fact, it is unmistakably friendly and open, even happy."
Evidently the writer didn't attempt to stand on a table, take too long ordering his drink or fail to tip the kitchen staff when picking up his hamburger. (Those offenses would have gotten him, in order: yelled at, yelled at and yelled at without getting even one bite of that burger.)
Ask any Zeitgeist regular about the Mission hipster hotspot and they're likely to describe three things: the sun-soaked back patio, the famously surly bar staff and the bathrooms. One wall of Zeitgeist's famous open-air patio has historically been lined with portable toilets that could be charitably described as "a violation of the Geneva Convention."
Up until now, dealing with Zeitgeist's bathroom situation has been a crucial part of the bar's charm--it's a common hope among patrons that a Herculean gulp from one of the bar's best-in-the-city Bloody Marys would be enough liquid fortification to enter one of the port-a-potties, do one's business and hopefully leave with more emotional scars than physical ones.
Sadly (read: happily), those days are now behind us. Zeitgeist has officially ditched its port-a-potties in favor of real, outdoor restrooms made of concrete, wood and corrugated metal. Granted, these new bathrooms still sound like they have the potential to be a wee bit gross, but if someone isn't looking for a little grit with their drink, the Mission's premiere dive bar probably isn't their ideal destination.
Even so, what's technically an upgrade could alternately be seen as an expunging of one of the endearing aspects that's made Zeitgeist a San Francisco landmark. It's akin to the Tonga Room doing away with its fake rainstorms, if said rainstorms were sometimes made of vomit that got all over your shoes when you tried to pee.
However, as Uptown Almanac's inimitable Kevin Montgomery reports:
But as a former Zeitgeist bartender reminded me when talking about the changes, Zeitgeist translates from German as "the spirit of the times." Valencia has been repaved, sidewalks widened, and made safe for valet parking. The motorcycle, messenger, and gearhead clientele has been pushed away and the bar's "surly" bartenders and bouncers is seen more as a cute, if not kitschy feature than a legitimate force of disgust.
The change has already started winning plaudits from the ironically tattooed hipsters who consider the bar their PBR-stash away from home. "Finally, I can invite my parents to use the facilities at Zeitgeist and not be embarrassed by the plastic fart catchers pockmarking the gorgeous beer garden," wrote one commenter on SFist's post about the renovation. "Especially when they have blow."