Pier 15

The first time I went to Pier 15 I fell in love. I don’t exactly know why, but it just felt right. The décor had just the right amount of ‘good’ grit, the patrons were friendly but not too friendly and they have Red Bull on tap. Known for the attached fun casual water front restaurant with cheerful blue plaid tablecloths, Pier 15 is a favorite brunch spot for those in the know. However, for those looking for a well-priced well drink or cheap cold beer, the neon-sign-lit spot will do the trick.

For the magazine:

Pier 15 at 15 Harbor Street in San Rafael is officially the only dive bar one can swim or paddle to, the longtime hot spot is located on the water in San Rafael. This boat-repair shop/restaurant-and-bar came into existence when the owner of the property, Pete Lind, decided cocktails and pool tables were more fun than valves and engine repairs. So he opened Pete’s Pier 15 in 1957 and the rest is history. Sort of like an inverted mullet haircut, Pier 15 is business in the back, with a popular waterfront restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and party in the front, with a fabulously dark, as in everyone-looks-great-in-this-light, bar. While there have been many owners throughout the years, in 2006 local restaurateur Adriano Orsi took over and highlighted food while maintaining the classic feel of the bar. And just in case you need a boost to swim or paddle home, it has the unique distinction of offering Red Bull on tap. 

What They Say: Adriano Orsi, owner

Is Pier 15 a dive bar? Yes, in a sense — but an upscale, classy version.

Your definition of a dive bar? A disreputable nightclub where fights break out.

Describe Pier 15. Like a Cheers bar where everybody knows your name.

Dive Bar Checklist:

Games? Yes, we have a pool table.

Celebrity photos? No, but we do have a written story about Bob Dylan experiencing an epiphany at Pier 15 framed on the wall.

TV is always on? Yes.

PBR available? Of course we have Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Muddled cocktails? No.

Fake fireplace? Yes.

Food is served in bags (chips, nuts, etc.)? Food is in the attached restaurant; chips are at the bar.

Pier 15 T-shirts? Available upon order.