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Pubs we love: New-wave Belgian beer havens

Carefully curated bottle lists and real-deal food make the latest stateside Belgian bars a dubbel threat.
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Belgian Beer Café in NYC

Belgian Beer Café in NYC

Carefully curated bottle lists and real-deal food make the latest stateside Belgian bars a dubbel threat.

San Francisco // BEL
THE DETAILS: Paintings of Belgian streetscapes deck the walls while a replica of Brussels’ iconic Manneken Pis (a peeing boy) presides over the scene from his perch above the bar. Even more authenticity comes from the Belgian-dominated beer program—featuring 12 rotating taps and 40-plus bottles—and chef/co-owner Richard Rosen’s menu of lowland classics. DRINK UP: Offering up a dark interplay of raisins and spice, the smooth Trappistes Rochefort 10 will keep you warm when the San Fran fog rolls in. DIG IN: Rosen’s Carbonnades Flamandes (a traditional beef brisket stew) gets a sweet-tart pop from a splash of Rodenbach Grand Cru, a Flanders red ale. 3215 Mission St., belsf.com

New York City // BELGIAN BEER CAFÉ
THE DETAILS: With nine handles pouring greatest hits and an adventurous bottle list, there’s something for Belgo-brew newbies and geeks alike. The space gets a dose of Old World charm with globe chandeliers and apothecary-style cabinetry. FYI: The bar is undergoing a rebranding, which may include an upcoming name change. DRINK UP: Grassy and citrusy hops make Houblon Chouffe, a Belgian-style IPA, a good gateway beer for those accustomed to punchy West Coast-style IPAs. DIG IN: Do as the Belgians do and lunch on rich, piquant steak tartare, served with a pile of hand-cut frites. 220 Fifth Ave., bbcnomad.com

Royal Oak, Michigan // MONK BEER ABBEY
THE DETAILS: This snug spot was born of Belgian-American bona fides: It’s the brainchild of the team behind Bastone, the Belgian-style brewery with which it shares a building. The unfussy vibe is imparted by rough-hewn paneling and heavy wooden furnishings that pay tribute to the brewing history of Belgium’s monasteries and the monks who invented the historic styles. DRINK UP: There are about 50 Belgian-brewed bottles, but for comparison’s sake, start with a draft of Dubbel Vision, Bastone’s Belgian-style amber brewed with dried dark fruits. DIG IN: Belgian waffles take on an American accent with savory fillings like pancetta, pork belly and housemade tasso ham served up sandwich-style. 419 S. Main St., monkbeerbar.com

Washington D.C. // THE SOVEREIGN 
THE DETAILS: Beer guru Greg Engert (Birch & Barley, ChurchKey) takes on his most ambitious project yet in this Georgetown bistro and second-floor bar, founded on no lesser a mission than completely transforming perceptions of Belgian beer. Expect 50 drafts (each temperature controlled) and a whopping 300 bottles, many sourced from small Belgian breweries rarely found stateside. DRINK UP: Look for selections from a new class of Belgian beer innovators, like Brasserie de la Senne, as well as unicorn bottles from revered brewers like Westvleteren. DIG IN: Sourced from a farm that grows its bivalves on the seafloor, as is the Benelux custom, this as close as you’ll get to authentic Belgian mussels without a plane ticket.  1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, thesovereigndc.com

2 Comments

  • Daniel-san says:

    Hey, y’all forgot Belga on Union street SF! Their beer selection is on point and their food amazing. Don’t talk to me about their five star service. They’re incredible at Belts and they love beer nuts.

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