Once upon a time, people though the only beverage that made sense to pair with food was wine. Well friends, thanks to the craft beer movement, those times have changed. Restaurants now offer brews on tap that perfectly complement (or contrast) the organic and sustainable food on their menus. Forget “washing” your food down with a beer. These nine SF restaurants will make you want to savor every sip and bite.
Barrel Head Brewhouse
Barrel Head is in kind of a weird location (on Fulton between Masonic and Central), which means it sometimes gets forgotten. Tie a ribbon around your finger because this brewery/restaurant deserves a visit. There are four beers brewed in-house, as well as another 30 (!!!) guest taps, as well as house brewtails, which yes, is exactly what you’re thinking they are. The food menu is extensive with dishes ranging from a BBQ sampler to oysters to shrimp and polenta. Basically, whatever you’re craving, it’s probably available. Especially if you’re craving beer.
One could easily go to this Belgian-inspired brasserie and not order a single beer, but that would be silly of one because Belga’s beer program is on point. There are 10 beers on tap and another 50 or so in the beer fridge along the wall. The menu is well organized (light, hoppy, malty, etc.) so you can find just what you’re in the mood for. And they all pair very well with Belga’s food menu, which is perhaps the most elevated of all the places on this list. There are house-made sausages (of course), but you can also choose from steamed or sauteed mussels, roasted half chicken, a Waldorf salad, and more. This is one spot where the beer and the food share the spotlight equally… and both shine brightly.
Fact: Sausage tastes even better when paired with beer. More facts: It’s even tastier when those sausages are the house-made sausage sandwiches at Hogwash and are paired with one of 30 craft beers on tap, which come in four different sizes (8oz, 12oz, 16oz, and… 54oz!) for the Goldilocks in everyone. Our fave sausage is the Abe Froman (beef, cheddar and bacon sausage with thousand island dressing, chopped romaine, tomato, pickles) and not just because “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is one of the best movies of all time. There’s even a “hogless” sausage for vegetarians. And whatever you do, get the fried pickles. They’re some of the best you’ll find in SF.
Magnolia Pub & Brewery
Whether you’re in the mood for a beer (or two) and a snack with friends or a full sit-down dinner, Magnolia’s got you covered with its seasonal pub cooking and locally and house-brewed beers. Share a board of cured meat, artisan cheese, or house sausages, or forego sharing and dig into the beer-battered local cod or the Magnolia burger with smoked cheddar cheese. If you’re trying to be healthy, the grilled romaine with bacon vinaigrette and a sieved farm egg is a super yummy option, though if we’re being honest with ourselves (sigh), is probably not that healthy at all (but who cares!). There are usually around 13 beers on tap, plus a couple of cask beers. And while we don’t like to play favorites, we will say that the cask beers make for some easy drinkin’, especially when you’re enjoying a big meal.
Mikkeller Bar is everything anyone could ever want in a beer hall: 42 of the best beers in the world on draft, all of which are served at the exact perfect temperature and balance thanks to separate walk-in refrigerators and a system called the Flux Capacitor, which keeps each beer at a specialized level of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. And even though the beer is truly the hero at this Tenderloin institution, the food is not to be skipped. Get the roasted peanuts to start. Then, there are five kinds of sausages to choose from (go with a group and get the sampler platter), as well as small plates like the salt cod cakes, mac n cheese, and bacon-wrapped ranger dog. Go at lunch time when you can get a beer and a sausage for $13. It’s just one beer; your boss won’t mind.
If we had to choose just one place to drink beer and eat food for the rest of our lives in SF, we’d most certainly pick Monk’s Kettle. The neighborhood tavern has 28 beers on tap, 1 cask engine, around 150 beers in the bottle, and serves elevated pub fare that’s all seasonally-based and made from scratch. It’s the perfect spot for a beer and a snack (fried house sour dill pickles, a pretzel knot with cheese fondue, Monk’s poutine fries) or a full dinner (the burger is legit, but we also love the fried chicken sandwich and the duck confit). The beer list is so extensive that there’s a good chance you won’t know what to order, but the awesome thing about the staff at Monk’s Kettle is that they’re incredibly knowledgeable and totally willing to impart that knowledge without making you feel silly or dumb. In other words: You don’t have to be a beer snob to have an amazing and satisfying experience, which, in our opinion, is exactly how it should be.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
If you go to Rosamunde Sausage Grill in the Lower Haight, you’ll have to take your Hot Italian next door to Toronado if you want to pair it with a tasty craft beer. However, if you go to the Mission location, you can eat some of the best sausage in town and choose from 26 beers on tap all without ever leaving the restaurant. All of the meat is sourced from reputable farms that don’t use hormones or antibiotics and the beer list varies, but rest assured there’s always a large selection of beers brewed on the west coast.
Richmond Republic Draught House
This cozy pub is the perfect place to escape the Inner Richmond fog. Not only are there 24 craft beers on tap (almost all of which are from California), the food is super affordable and tasty. There’s plenty of your typical pub fare, like beer-battered onion rings, a Sloppy Joe sandwich, and, wait for it: nacho FRIES, but there’s also a good selection of healthy (and not-so-healthy) salads, and sandwiches that don’t feel quite so gluttonous (like grilled chicken or portobello). If you plan on frequenting this establishment, definitely join the mug club; you get $1 off every beer and a free beer on Tuesdays.
Sessions at the Presidio
Sessions at the Presidio is probably the best craft beer bar you’re not going to… although we don’t know why since this huge spot in the Presidio offers 100 different craft beers, 24 of which are on tap, a large outdoor patio with heat lamps and gorgeous views, and a food menu that is seasonally-driven and a lot different than what you’re going to find at your typical craft brew haven. (Think: crispy pork belly with peaches, padron peppers, and corn cake; house smoked openface pastrami sandwich on marble rye; crispy squash blossoms; and grilled mahi mahi tacos.) Plus, if you go during the weekend brunch, you can get bottomless beer for just $19.