North Beach Boho Bar: Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe

I’ve been to Mario’s  a few times. I suppose it’s not really for either drinks or food that I frequent this place; it’s the whole neighborhood bar feel that keeps me coming back.

Décor: Simple bar-around-the corner décor is what you’ll find here; nothing sleek and modern about it. What you have instead is earthy, warm and worn (in a good way): earthy from the solid standing bar to the hardwood floors and tables, warm from the sun shining in through the bay windows, and worn—well—everything. And I mean this in the best sense possible. When you come here, you know you’re going to be able to sit back, have a pleasant chat (or not) with the staff and enjoy your beer and bite in peace.

Vibe: Despite being located in the heart of Tourist-Town (at Columbus and Union), Mario’s still manages to maintain a neighborhood cafe/bar feel. A steady flow of tourists flock here during the day (actually, they’re pretty much always there—but I like it; they’re the cool kind); After work and on weekend mornings, you’ll see a more local crowd, sitting outside enjoying views of Washington Park and the foot traffic on Columbus.

Drinks: Decent selection of beers, wines and coffees. The espresso is strong but supposedly worth a try. (This is a foodblog; I don’t have that much to say about beverages…sorry.) (-_-)

Eats: As already mentioned, I don’t come here for the food. It’s not bad, just not Mario’s particular area of expertise. The “thing” here is hot sandwiches, as in focaccias and paninis. And apparently, they fix a mean meatball sammy. I’ve never had it, but I have tried the eggplant panini. Though there wasn’t anything stand-out about it, it was still pretty tasty. I do think if they used fresh instead of dried basil, it would add a nice flavor kick.

Great for: reasonably priced after-work drinks, slow weekend mornings, quick, on-the-cheaper-side bites and good conversation.

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