What’s brewing in food right now? Beer, of course. For so very long, beer was an afterthought on the menu of nearly every restaurant you stepped foot in; always a few boring bottles that so obviously didn’t go with pasta primavera, you had no choice but to opt for chardonnay. Those days are behind us—and we know that because there are enough new beer-driven eateries that we actually found favorites among them. From a vegetarian pickle shop in Brooklyn to a German beer hall in Seattle, these restaurants have two things in common: They’re all less than a year old, and they’re all churning out inspired plates and putting serious thought into pints that match. Three of them have “Top Chef” alums, and six are attached to breweries; all of them have food and beer that will blow you away.
The Radler / Chicago
Inspired by Germany’s every-town-has-its-own-beer model, Adam Hebert put his own spin on the Bavarian beer hall concept: He collaborates with Chicagoland brewers on draft beers (for instance, he worked with Atlas Brewing to create Tricycle, a meaty smoked altbier), and gives others bourbon barrels to age one-off beers that are eventually bottled. (Some go straight to Hebert’s beer cellar, to reappear later on The Radler’s vintage beer list.) The two house beers—a hefeweizen and a Helles—are made by his high-school buddy at suburban Flesk Brewing. The food, too, is a fresh take on German staples; the menu stars knockwurst, boarwurst and more wursts cased in-house, and a buttery, big-as-your-head pretzel served with a barley malt butter you’ll want to eat with a spoon. ORDER: The bacon-loaded German Onion Pie and whatever cider’s on tap.
Luksus / Brooklyn, N.Y.
The back-room spot to Brooklyn’s top 100 beer bar Tørst, Luksus is a beautifully refined and ultraseasonal restaurant that dishes up a new tasting menu every four or five weeks, when chef Daniel Burns figures out what’s fresh from the field. The five-course meal (plus opening snacks) is a two-hour experience, with creative nods to Asian and Scandinavian cuisine (Burns has worked at NOMA and Momofuku). The beer-only pairings tap Tørst’s weighty selection and special pours from partner Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø’s own Evil Twin Brewery. ORDER: The menu changes frequently and the decisions are made for you on the food, but do order a Luksus ONE, the house Berliner weisse brewed with licorice and beets.
Harvester Brewing Gastropub / Portland, Ore.
With accolades for brewer James Neumeister’s gluten-free beers pouring in, this Portland brewery tasked Ad Hoc alum Neil Davidson with creating a simple but sophisticated GF menu to match, meaning you’ll find IPA vinaigrette-dressed salads and millet bread-based sandwiches mingling with more urbane pub grub like grass-fed beef carpaccio, porterhouse chops with crab-infused quinoa, and olive oil cake made with the same Willamette Valley chestnuts used to brew Harvester’s beers. If you can’t nab one of the no-frills taproom’s two booths, join the jovial mishmash of 7th Avenue commuter corridor cyclists making a pale ale pit-stop, GF pilgrims and neighborhood regulars crowding the kitchen-facing bar. ORDER: The Cubano slathered in warm, spicy serrano chile relish and Dark Ale mustard, and the nutty, slightly citrusy Pale Ale.
Gralehaus / Louisville, Ky.
The third time’s a charm—then again, so are Lori Beck’s and Tyler Trotter’s first two beer ventures: Their Louisville Beer Store single-handedly jump-started the city’s craft beer renaissance, while their captivating Holy Grale—set in a former Unitarian church—ranks among the nation’s best craft beer bars.
A courtyard separates Holy Grale from Gralehaus, the duo’s beer-and-breakfast joint that’s brand-new (it opened in March) but already feels comfortably lived-in. There, chef Andrew Myers whips up a brief menu centered on eggs, crepes, breads and charcuterie like lamb crepinette and porcetta that make a strong case against pork-and-herb breakfast sausage, though he makes that, too. Outdoing everything is a biscuit and gravy that’s groundbreaking because, well, the gravy is duck gravy, but moreso because it’s presented so artfully—a fried egg set just so beneath sinful cracklins and bright greens—you almost hate to probe your fork in it. Almost.
Intelligentsia coffee, house-made kombucha and soda tempt early-risers, but beer’s still the hook: Glowing fridges boast a bottle selection better than most beer bars, and a trio of taps pour an a.m.-appropriate grapefruit IPA from Stone, Stillwater’s brisk Classique and a Berliner weisse that’s delightful straight-up but even better in a mimosa.
And if the sausage and eggs and beer weren’t enough, there’s an honest-to-goodness Southern chess pie. It’s the kind of place you can stay all day—and you can, when a handful of guest rooms upstairs debuts this summer. ORDER: An egg sandwich with house-made bologna on a pretzel croissant and a 2.9%-ABV Jester King Le Petit Prince table beer, both to-go.