Underdogs Too, a two-year-old sports bar in San Francisco’s Parkside neighborhood, was seriously damaged Tuesday, December 15, in an early morning fire that sent heavy smoke into the skies near Ocean Beach.
According to a spokesperson with the San Francisco Fire Department, calls came into 911 at around 7:21 a.m. Tuesday, with reports of dark smoke rising from the restaurant’s back half. By 7:52, the blaze was contained — but not before, one witness tells Eater SF, firefighters “chopped a hole all along the roof” to battle the flames. According to the SFFD, no one was injured in the blaze.
This isn’t the first serious fire to strike a business on Underdogs’ block of Taraval Street: in 2015, a two-alarm fire destroyed the Riptide, a 1940s-era dive bar. It took over a year for that business to rebuild and reopen.
That fire happened a few years before Underdogs opened across the street, inside a former diner called the Bashful Bull Too. The restaurant is a spinoff of the Taco Shop at Underdogs, a 12-year-old surf Mexican spot popular with sports fans, SF State students, and fans of the venue’s crispy tacos.
When contacted by text, Underdogs owner Doug Marschke says there is “lots of damage” to the restaurant, and that “we will be closed for quite a while.” From the outside, things look grim: As of nearly noon, smoke still hangs in the air, the restaurant’s facade is damp and darkened in spots, and pile after of pile of debris sits where the restaurant’s outdoor tables and chairs used to be.
And this couldn’t come at a worse time: Marschke previously told Eater SF that a major SFMTA project essentially shut down Taraval Street, depressing traffic to the busy restaurant since early 2020. Then, of course, there is the pandemic, which left Underdogs Too reliant on takeout and — for a brief time — an outdoor dining setup constructed on 46th Avenue.
During the pandemic, Marschke’s lease at Irving Street’s Taco Shop at Underdogs had concluded, and he opted to shut down that location completely on December 20. The plan, Marschke tells Eater SF, is to reopen in the Inner Sunset, in the spot most recently occupied by Nopalito.
Marschke has yet to say how the December 15 fire of Underdogs’ only other location will change those plans, or how soon Underdogs Too might reopen, just that the fire is “terrible timing.” Also unknown is the cause of the blaze: according to an SFFD spokesperson, it remains under investigation. As of publication time, Marschke has not announced any fundraising efforts to help repair the damage, but gift cards for Underdogs Too are available for purchase here.