Pickle Shack / Brooklyn, N.Y.
Pickle master Shamus Jones (Brooklyn Brine) collaborates with friend and chef Neal Harden for Brooklyn nook Pickle Shack, a buzzing little eatery lasered in on craft beer and well-crafted vegetarian fare. And, of course, pickles.
“We wanted to make food we love to eat and believe in,” says Harden, who, like Jones, is a vegetarian. “We thought about making really interesting food in ways no one else is doing; a great business is always founded on doing something new.”
That’s right in line with the third voice in this venture, “off-centered” Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, whose beer takes center stage on the all-DFH tap list. Pickle Shack gets first dibs on the good stuff from Delaware: When we talked to Harden, he was pouring 60-, 90- and 120-Minute IPA flights, having scored one of only four 120-Minute kegs in NYC. The bottle list goes in other directions (and to other breweries), signaling Harden’s own proclivity for Belgians and sours.
The other good stuff at Pickle Shack is on the plate, with unmasked vegetarian dishes that still sate carnivores: Try the Bahn Mi, starring grilled tofu braised in anise, maple syrup and soy sauce and smoked in-house with applewood, house-fermented kimchi (which takes about four weeks to make), quick-pickled carrots and house aioli, all on fresh bread from a bakery around the corner. You’re on dipping duty with the house hot sauce, and you won’t be sorry (look for Pickle Shack’s packaged condiments for sale this summer). Pickles are still primo here, and you’ll find them on every table: Beer lovers can’t miss the fried hop variety, made with hop oil. ORDER: The lemongrass-infused Dogfish Head Namaste brings out the Asian flare of the Bahn Mi.
Waypoint Public / San Diego
The latest from Amanda Baumgarten, a “Top Chef” veteran, is this sunny, casual eatery in San Diego’s North Park ’hood that leans California with its 29 draft beers (two on nitro) and dives head first into creative, belly-filling bites. Try the Waypoint Burger, eight gloriously juicy ounces of beef topped with pulled pork braised in orange juice, caramelized apples and jalapenos, then mixed with tomatillo salsa; pickled carrots, radishes and jalapeños; and crowned with a sunny side-up egg. Baumgarten is a homebrewer in her own right, collaborating with Stone Brewing on Apricot & Arbol Saison brewed with apricots, chilies de arbol, juniper and vanilla pods; look for that beer and other spectacular finds during Waypoint’s regular line-up of beer dinners with notables like The Bruery, Dogfish Head and AleSmith. ORDER: A spicy quad-infused house-made blood sausage with a classic SoCal IPA.
The Annex / Salt Lake City
Ideally situated in SLC’s hip Sugar House neighborhood, The Annex is Epic Brewing’s new 7-barrel foodie outpost featuring the whole bottle lineup (47 and counting) and one-off, tap-only brews paired with exciting pub grub. Once a historic granite furniture facility, the building’s exposed brick and simple, modern décor are now the stage for rock solid, elevated eats like the smoked porter-braised brisket, served on a soft doughy, bun made with the brewery’s own spent grain. The beer menu still hosts Epic’s famed heavy-hitters, like Brainless on Cherries, an 11%-ABV oak-aged saison with cherries, and Old Sage Brett, an herbal, funky easy sipper even at 7.6%-ABV, that you can pop right at your table. The law says draft beers must be below 4% ABV, so look for supersessionable, Annex-only pours like the single-hop golden ale, made with a different hop every time it’s brewed. ORDER: The rich lamb shank with the vinous Brainless on Cherries.
Edmund’s Oast / Charleston, S.C.
The meat greeting is a good sign. In a window over the kitchen where every eye can see it, all manner of sausages and animal legs dangle as a testament to what this place is: sinfully delicious, everything made on-site. A charming spinoff from the duo behind the Charleston Beer Exchange, Edmund’s Oast combines fine dining (but not too fine) with inventive beer—from a Chicago marshmallow-graham-cracker stout and gems from nearby Westbrook Brewing to the house Peanut Butter & Jelly ale brewed on the eatery’s nano system. The menu’s focused on South-skewed comfort food reimagined with local ingredients and chef Andy Henderson’s 21st-century touch, like chicken porridge with shrimp, whey-cooked polenta crowned with a duck egg, and that nose-to-tail charcuterie that beckons till it’s on your plate. ORDER: The Oast’s own Faust, a sour red ale, with a charcuterie board and fresh ricotta.