Gay Bar of the Week: the dive that grows with time

Photo via groovygabbs on Instagram

GayCities’ new series “Gay Bar of the Week” showcases LGBTQ-friendly bars around the world that help bring our community together. These bars go above and beyond slinging drinks and dancing go-gos by making safe, inviting places with lasting impact.

Say howdy to this week’s pick:

The Cinch Saloon

The Cinch Saloon. Photo by the San Francisco Small Business Alliance via Facebook

a.k.a. “The Cinch”

Gayborhood – Polk Gulch, San Francisco, California

Years in business – Since 1972, 50 years

Queer quotient – 6

Using Kinsey’s scale, rating the level of queerness from 1 (totally straight) to 6 (as queer as they come), we give the Cinch a perfect 6! Half Cowboy, half Star Wars, and all queer, this historic dive has a place for everyone.

The Cinch is a great place to bring old friends, and make new ones. Plus, you can catch some of the city’s most beloved drag queens on and off the stage. One of the last remainders of San Francisco’s forgotten gayborhood, the Cinch still pays homage to its Old Guard roots but is no longer just for leather daddies.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Perez (@nuhomm_ies)

Vibe check – casual and inviting

When you arrive at the Cinch, you’re greeted by a western facade, but you’re not going into any old saloon. The bar is decorated with Texas longhorns and pride flags, pictures of shirtless cowboys cover the walls, and the bartender wants to get to know you.

Keep walking and you’ll end up in a galaxy far far away. The back of the bar is stuffed with homemade Star Wars decor that makes it feel like you’re playing pool in a decrepit starship. Go even deeper, and you’ll find the open patio, perfect for an afternoon in the sun with friends or a late-night smoke break with a new flame.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Don Collver (@dcsjsf)

Fun fact

Before the Castro, there was the Gulch. The Cinch is the only remaining gay bar on a street that was once lined with LGBTQ+ spaces. Once the epicenter of the city’s gay scene in the ’60s and ’70s, Polk Street played host to San Francisco’s first official Pride in 1972.

Noteworthy events


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jeremy Kenyon (@jeremyjkenyon)

This Sunday, and the second Sunday of every month, stop by the Cinch for its Open Mic Piano Bar and Sing-Along. Start the week off with high spirits and notes by singing the night away. All genres are welcome, from Pop and Country to Jazz and Showtunes.

RELATED: After 30 wild years, NYC’s oldest lesbian bar gets a makeover

Don't forget to share:

Your support makes our travel guides possible

We believe that LGBTQ+ people deserve safe vacations that allow them to be their authentic selves. That's why our City Guides aren't locked behind a paywall. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated