Broke-Ass Stuart is the Man-About-Town in San Francisco. He is most commonly described as a Travel Writer, TV Host, Poet, and a Motherf*ckin’ Hustler. He has written for Lonely Planet, as well as his own guidebooks for San Francisco and New York City, and even had his own travel show “Young, Broke, and Beautiful” on IFC. Now, you can find his musings on his successful San Francisco lifestyle blog BrokeAssStuart.com.
In this episode, we head to The Wooden Nickel in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, and have an unfiltered conversation about: his creative work in travel, local politics and social commentary, drinking stories, and how to live a broke but rich life.
The Wooden Nickel – San Francisco, CA
This unpretentious destination is new to the Mission bar scene, and is a breath of fresh air given its laid-back vibe. A woman-owned business run by 3 of the most long-standing bartenders in The City (with over 40+ years’ experience), The Wooden Nickel is a small corner bar with a pool table, CD jukebox (“the way it should be”), San Diego-style Mexican food, and drinks at reasonable prices.
- Broke-Ass Stuart got his start in 2004 selling zines, the mid-2000’s equivalent of a blog…except on paper and not on the web. This zine-writing eventually landed Stuart a gig with Lonely Planet in Ireland.
- Once Stuart came back, he published his book Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco in 2007, with his New York edition coming out in 2008. This then led into a travel show on IFC called “Young, Broke, and Beautiful” which featured Stuart exploring the fringe elements of cities across the U.S.
- Most recently, Stuart’s main creative outlet has been his blog, as well as a brief stint running for Mayor of San Francisco in 2015.
- “My life is one big art project.” –Stuart Schuffman
- What does it mean to be broke? In a way we’re all broke, and fortunately for Broke-Ass Stuart he can live that lifestyle due to his “low overhead” (no mortgage, car, kids, dog, or plants).
- So, how does one live cheaply in cities like San Francisco or New York City? Step 1.) Go buy Stuart’s book, but beyond that, exploring and eating in ethnic neighborhoods, taking advantage of happy hours, and using websites like sf.funcheap.com are all good ways to go. For example, Shalimar on Polk St. – a Pakistani / Indian restaurant (where the cats are included) – serves up naan and chicken tikka masala for just about $7.50.
- Dog interruption. Every dog has its own Instagram or hashtag, like #TravelsWithRoux.
- Back to food & drinks…shout-outs to the following SF bars that allow you to stretch your dollar: The Homestead (used to have $1 beer night), Mission Bar (a dive with $3.75 well drinks), Lucky 13, any dive bar that’s been around for awhile that has good rent, Delirium, and The Geary Club (“divey as sh*t”).
- We get into some labor commentary via a few impressions of tech bros, and naturally we discuss how The City has changed over the years.
- “What is the most creative thing you’ve done because of being broke?” Broke-Ass Stuart’s life has been a total experiment, but he is particularly proud of his New York City guidebook.
- Running for Mayor of San Francisco in 2015 (seriously) was the “best stupid thing” Stuart has ever done. He does not plan to run again: “My role is to talk shit from the side-lines, and to use my voice to amplify other voices.”
- We kick off Round 2 with a discussion on travel, backpacking, and Stuart’s decision to pursue a path focused around San Francisco.
- Stuart used to write for Lonely Planet, and was responsible for their Ireland segment. We discussed the experience and how travel writing has changed over the years.
- Stuart recently took a trip to Helsinki to cover Slush, one of the largest startup conferences in Europe. We discuss some of companies he encountered there and the problems they are seeking to solve, including universal basic income and helping refugees in Finland assimilate and start their own businesses.
- Stuart gives us the low-down on his wild Purim party that he hosted awhile back. You can check out photos of all the costumes here. “There is nothing that San Franciscans love more than costumes, dancing, drinking, and having a good time.”
- Stuart’s first drinking story involves him and his boy John Nolan drinking in NYC. The lesson here is probably don’t go to a club with Stuart in NYC…
- Also, forget NYC! Stuart had a pretty crazy time in Belfast as well!
- Stuart is not moving to Oakland…he has rent control. But he does speak highly of the growing arts scene in the East Bay.
- We wrap up round 2 with a conversation on our love for New Orleans: the food, the people, and the music.
- Stuart would grab a drink with Anthony Bourdain, who he’s met, and who also has one of his stickers…and 2 of his books.
- While Stuart was at a loss for a 3rd drinking story, he used to write a column about bars for 7×7 called “The Weeknighter”…because weekends are for amateurs!
- Side-note: The Wooden Nickel serves San Diego-style Mexican food, and we ordered it in the middle of the episode.
- Stuart is good at writing and talking, and will likely talk his way out of the apocalypse.
- Stuart is most excited about his new podcast “Weird and Wonderful with Broke-Ass Stuart”
- Parting words of wisdom: “Be good to each other…and get tested every 6 months.”
Drinks of the Show:
- Vodka Soda with Lemon – Stuart is old, and in order to drink a lot without the effects of a whiskey-fueled hangover, this has become his go-to drink of choice.
- Moonlight Brewing Death & Taxes – I joined Stuart for 1 vodka soda, but since I’m 6 years younger, I can still handle the beer 😉 I switched to this black lager for round 2, as I am a big fan of this relatively light dark beer.
- Pabst Blue Ribbon – What more appropriate way to end this episode than a PBR! This warrants no description, other than it probably indicates I really didn’t need another beer at this point in the conversation.
Stuart’s Favorite Bars & Breweries in the Mission District:
- Rite Spot Café – A cozy Mission dive with live music and local art.
- The Homestead – One of San Francisco’s oldest bars (1902) serving up classic cocktails and cheap beer. They also have a corner stove, which is cool.
- Benders – “They’re the homies!” I also hear they have a good burger, but I still need to go confirm that myself.
- Southern Pacific – Massive brewery and beer hall located right in the Mission.
- Phone Booth – Another Mission dive. Free popcorn!
- The Willows – Finally! A gastropub is on the list!
- The Sycamore – One of the first bars I ever went to in San Francsico.
- WISH – A small lounge on the fancier side and on the SOMA side…
Resources for When You’re Sober:
- Young, Broke, and Beautiful: Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply – Not only is this a bit of a “how-to” book on making it without gobs of money, it’s a manifesto of the broke-ass lifestyle! “It’s a celebration of the fact that you don’t have to be rich to enjoy your life.” Stuart takes on anything from eating to drinking, from job hunting to housing, and plenty more in his namesake book.
- Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website – Stuart’s team runs one of the best lifestyle blogs in San Francisco. Head here for tips on bars, restaurants, dating, events, ramblings, and a sweet store with loud apparel.
Connect/Drink with Stuart:
Visit The Wooden Nickel:
The Wooden Nickel is located at 1900 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103. Bar hours are 2pm-2am 7-days-a-week.
“Last Time That I Saw You” by Patent Pending. Check them out at PatentPendingMusic.com.