The 7 Best Biergartens in and Around San Francisco
Aka the best way to spend your afternoons away from the office
Could there be a better way to spend a three-day weekend than drinking beers in the sun? (Or mist or fog, depending on how things go and your very precise location.)
Short answer: no. Consider this your seven-stop itinerary for a holiday tour of San Francisco’s superlative beer gardens, from the one with the actual sandy beach to the one that opened just last weekend.
In brief: Opened for business literally last week, Palooza expands on the fine-living complex known as Cornerstone Sonoma with a fairy-light-bedecked space next door to the Sunset magazine’s “Gardens + Outdoor Test Kitchen”. It’s all extremely convivial.
Order this: Definitely the new Cornerstone IPA coming soon to the menu, or a Marin-made Equator coffee if you’re driving, plus a wood-fired pizza.
In brief: A superior respite within the bustle of the Ferry Building — as well as a generally excellent place to take a break from/hide near the Financial District — Fort Point’s taproom comes with a beer garden.
Order this: How about the KSA (Kolsch-style ale)? Or try the Export — either now or next Saturday, on a three-hour sailing tour (really) aboard the U.S.S. Potomac, from Jack London Square to the actual Fort Point.
In brief: One of Northern California’s biggest indie beer success stories, Lagunitas pays tribute to its Petaluma birthplace by giving us a stellar “beer sanctuary” along with the taproom.
Order this: Definitely something on limited-release, like the Little Sumpin’ Hazy. As for food: This is a hot dog and grilled cheese kind of place — even if the grilled cheese comes with cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan on Costeaux ancient grain bread, in case you forgot you were in Marin.
In brief: The biergarten of choice when the weather’s not cooperating, not that we would know anything about that.
Order this: The Rosamunde knockwurst, the pretzel sticks with beer cheese and SF-brewed Black Hammer beers.
In brief: A Saturdays-only, dogs-allowed outdoor spot that’s only opened till October and is a pure distillation of everything Marina, from the rosé-centric wine offerings to the support of the SF Shared Schoolyard Project.
Order this: More SF-brewed beers (like Standard Deviation), or maybe made-for-sunny-day-drinking Jet Set cocktail, with vodka, cucumber syrup, citrus and sparkling water.
In brief: A beer garden with its own sandy beach — and killer, never-to-be-equaled views of the Bay — may be the best beer garden of all.
Order this: If you’re into a floral beer, for sure try the Local Honey, with “fennel-like yarrow, the resinous bite of eucalyptus, lavender’s sweet high note of mint and berry.” The empanada-focused food menu is … limited.
In brief: The icon, the one-and-only. A 42-year-old institution and, in fact, a perfectly Gen X style of beer garden. (Used to be snarly, now less so.) Still the best place to meet friends for a drink outside.
Order this: The burger, plus whatever looks appetizing on the frequently rotating roster of beers advertised on the big board.