Interviewing SF musicians for Hit Parade, we often get around to asking them about their favorite performance memories. Local clubs, concert halls, house parties, and festivals all appear with equal frequency in these stories of joy, camaraderie, and musical innovation. One type of venue, however, stands out as both particularly interesting and as one musician told us, increasingly precarious: restaurants.
Here is a 1943 photo of the Senoritas Gomes – Dora and Nieves – performing at Sinaloa Restaurant, on Powell Street in San Francisco. Text accompanying this photo attributes the performance to the restaurant’s “authentic South of the Border entertainment.” This was indeed the restaurant’s reputation. Sinaloa opened in 1928 and offered an “all Latin revue floor,” according to the San Mateo newspaper The Times. By 1971, its performers included Willy Vargas, the Dino Benetti Trio and Yolanda, who was “a Flamenco dancer with clacking castanets and that proud aura of defiance that makes her special dance an art,” writes Lloyd Johnson of The Times.