With a name that could create some confusion at a few shady massage parlors nearby, Royal Tug Yacht Club (est. 2069) recently made its debut in the Tendornob.

The small space opened about a month ago on the corner at Bush St. at Taylor St., replacing Yong San Lounge, a dingy and uninviting bar with a pool table that still allowed patrons to smoke inside (a rebellious attribute we liked but can live without).

The decks were swabbed, the pool table removed, a coat of bright red paint was added to the exterior and local boating supply stores were raided for the kitschy decor at the new bar, owned by the same group that runs Bullitt, Tonic, Soda Popinski’s, Wild Hare, Lightning Tavern and Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem. The maîtresse is a giant squid that hangs from the rafters and keeps an eye (also red) on the night’s proceedings.

Excluding the eccentric seafaring theme and the vaguely naughty nautical name, the Royal Tug is your standard-order neighborhood bar—and a good addition to lower Nob Hill at that. The mid-week happy hour was low-key with an even mix of guys and girls and the energy slowly picked up as the glow from the open door faded from grey to black.

You won’t find a fancy cocktail list, but there’s all the usual suspects for cocktail fare. Two beers were on tap during our visit (Guinness and Scrimshaw) and there’s a decent list of bottled brew. We took advantage of the no-frills special of the evening: buy a shot, get a beer.

After a couple of those, we blew off some steam with a few rounds of Buck Shot video game hunting in the back corner before pulling anchor and setting sail into San Francisco’s rolling fog and hills.

More info.

Eye of the squid:


Buy a shot, get a beer:


Fully loaded and ready for action:


A homage to Yong San remains:


Stay tuned for more happy hour adventures. Where should we go next?