The Bay Area has no shortage of gastropubs and brewpubs serving up fantastic, locally brewed beer and tasty beer-friendly food. Here are my top five recommendations for a place to grab a great pint and maybe a bite in San Francisco.
In order of awesomeness…
1. 21st Amendment
Both the beer and food here are equally amazing. It’s nothing too fancy really—just a great place to grab some grub before a Giants game, but they serve solid beer alongside basic comfort food items. I mentioned them before in my post during SF Beer week, and I will repeat myself here: Cuban sammie and bacon cheeseburger = mouth party. The pulled pork sliders are good too.
Favorite Beer(s): Repeal Rye and Back in Black (a dark IPA, very interesting)
563 2nd St. (between Bryant and Brennan)
2. Rogue Ales Public House
They get tons of points for beer, staff, and inviting pub atmosphere. The food is not really that impressive, but it’s certainly there if you need it. Sometimes waffle fries just call your name. Though the actual brewery is stationed in Oregon, I still consider this neighborhood bar in North Beach “local.” They have a great selection of Rogue beer, and always offer a decent selection of other local beers from around the West Coast. They also have beer flights and usually offer something on cask, and they’ve got a little area with outside seating.
Favorite Beer: Rogue’s Brutal Bitter
673 Union St.
3. Park Chalet
The reverse of my thoughts on Rogue—I think of them as a restaurant first, and the beer as somewhat of an afterthought. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but the morsels are am-a-zing. I recommend splitting a few things, as much of their food is extremely rich. My top picks: truffled chicken and four cheese macaroni, spicy hot wings, and duet of cupcakes. They also have a beer flight to get you acquainted with their selection. A nice long walk through Golden Gate park will get you there in style and work up a good appetite.
Favorite Beer: I had the flight and I honestly can’t remember—might have had something to do with my food coma.
1000 Great Highway @ Ocean Beach
4. Gordon Biersch
Okay, so it’s kind of touristy and always packed. So what? I think the beer is pretty darn good and some times it’s just fun to go to those places that you can’t take too seriously. Beer + people watching = a darn good time. They have your standard selection of burgers, pizzas, and appetizers, and of course my personal favorite, garlic fries. They’re kind of a chain now, but the brewery got its start in Palo Alto.
Favorite Beer(s): the Marzen or Hefeweizen, depending on the season
2 Harrison St. (Financial District)
5. Magnolia Pub and Brewery
Magnolia gets the No. 5 slot because they just didn’t wow me with their beer. I really liked the first one I tried, which was an IPA. They have a pretty good selection overall, including about 3 or 4 different IPAs. I tried also tried the Weather Report wheat, which I found lacking in character and body, and the Blue Bell Bitter. I hate to say it, but that bitter was a waste of perfectly good water. I almost didn’t bother to finish it—it was boring and tasted of…nothing. And it was competing with the fried chicken for space in my stomach. I’ll give them another shot because the “good” beer I had was really good, and because the food and service made up for their brew-related weaknesses. They also have chicken fried Thursdays (this will keep you from dessert), sausages, and a good cheese selection.
Favorite Beer: Proving Ground IPA
1398 Haight St.