The real San Francisco treat? Beer. Nico Freccia, co-founder of the forward-thinking 21st Amendment Brewery, shows us his favorite drinking spots in the city just in time for Frisco’s annual beer week, Feb. 11 to 20.
11:00 a.m. Start off at the Ferry Building on the waterfront; there’s a huge outdoor farmers market on Saturdays, and every organic producer in the area is out there showing off their wares. Inside, there’s Hog Island Oyster Bar. You sit at the bar, right on the water underneath the Bay Bridge, and watch them shuck oysters. We make our oyster stout with their shells, so sometimes they have that on tap, but they always have a good pilsner on, like North Coast’s. Plus, they make a grilled cheese sandwich that’s just incredible.
12:00 p.m. Then, go to City Beer Store on Folsom. They have hundreds of bottles and cans from all over the world, but they also have four taps pouring special one-off beers you usually can’t get anywhere else, like Midnight Sun brews from Anchorage.
12:30 p.m. Toronado’s a classic. I love to go in the afternoon because it’s not as crowded, and you can really get into the Belgian list. There are about 45 taps full of unique Belgians, always a Russian River beer and sometimes stuff from Moonlight Brewing, which you can only find at a few places in the Bay Area. And right next door, there’s a great sausage joint called Rosamunde; you can get your food to go and eat it at Toronado. On Tuesdays only, they do a burger with organic meat they grind themselves that’s the best in San Francisco, but there’s always a line out the door and they’re gone by 1 p.m.
2:00 p.m. Monk’s Kettle is a Belgian beer bar with really nice, high-end Belgian food. Tripels and saisons are my two favorites right now, so I might go for a Tripel Karmeleit on tap or something from the huge bottle selection.
3:30 p.m. Zeitgeist is the premier beer garden in San Francisco. There’s a few dozen really good beers on tap; they carry our Back in Black, Racer 5 from Bear Republic and always Chimay White. There’s a big outdoor grill and these long picnic benches full of every denizen—bike messengers, tattooed kids, people visiting from the East Bay. At night, a tamale lady walks through the garden selling tamales for $1.
5:00 p.m. There’s a good dive bar in the grungy part of the Mission called Bender’s. It has live music, Meatball Mondays and a nice little patio out back.
5:30 p.m. Further down Valencia Street there’s Pi Bar, and there’s no better place to go for pizza and beer in this city. Their specialty is hand-tossed, thin-crust Neapolitan pizza, and the owners are really beer savvy; they get rare beers from local brewpubs that are really special.
7:00 p.m. Depending on where you stay, there are plenty of good bars to end up at. If you’re down at Fisherman’s Wharf, there’s Jack’s Cannery Bar with about 60 beers on tap. If you’re in North Beach, there’s La Trappe, another great Belgian bar, and Rogue Ales Public House is there too, pouring Rogue beers and lots of others. The Fly Bar on Divisidero is in one of the trendy club areas, but it’s pretty cool—a small but great tap selection and solid food. And to get a feel for the Castro area, go to the Pilsner Inn; it has a worthy draft selection and a nice patio that’s good for people-watching.
806 S. Van Ness Ave., bendersbar.com
City Beer Store
1168 Folsom St., Suite 101, citybeerstore.com
762 Divisadero St., flybarandrestaurant.com
Hog Island Oyster Bar
1 Ferry Building, hogislandoysters.com
Jack’s Cannery Bar
2801 Leavenworth St., jackscannerybar.com
800 Greenwich St., latrappecafe.com
3141 16th St., monkskettle.com
1432 Valencia St., pibarsf.com
225 Church St., pilsnerinn.com
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight St., rosamundesausagegrill.com
Rogue Ales Public House
673 Union St., rogue.com
547 Haight St., toronado.com
199 Valencia St., zeitgeistsf.com