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birthday dinner for beer guy during SF visit?

I'm a chowhound from Durham, NC. My husband and I will be visiting SF (staying in downtown Marriott) from this Friday, 8/10 until Tuesday 8/14. His birthday is on the 12th. He's into specialty brews and burgers. Any ideas for a birthday dinner along these lines that's still nice enough for a special occasion? Thanks!

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    1. re: Husky

      The food at 21st Amendment was great for while but that chef left. Was fine but nothing special the last time I was there.

    2. Gordon Biersch makes a great burger as well as being known for their beer. The upstairs dining room is a little more formal than the bar area downstairs. It is a fun place that might just fit your requirements.

      3 Replies
      1. re: baseballfan

        Gordon Biersch is a good recommendation, but there are several of them throughout the country now if that makes a difference. The first one was in Palo Alto, CA. Subsequently, they opened in San Francisco and San Jose. (We even have one in Atlanta and I go there fairly often.)

        If you and your husband have time, don't miss the Anchor Steam brewery tour. Anchor Steam is a great beer and has been made in San Francisco since the late 1800s. The tour is great and the pours are generous. Call as soon as you can if you are interested as I believe they only do one a day and tend to book up. Here's a link: http://www.anchorbrewing.com/about_us.... If you go, I would be interested in knowing about your experience, since I haven't been there in quite awhile.

        1. re: bananna slug

          I lived near Gordon Biersch for over a decade. The food is horrid. The beer mediocre.

          1. re: rworange

            There was a good chef there for a year or so, and a decent wine list. But yeah.

      2. I believe Burger Joint serves Anchor Steam on tap. If you want a specific SF beer, Anchor Steam would be it. It more or less is the mother of all micro-breweries in the U.S. starting the whole thing. You can also do a tour of the Anchor Steam brewery although no food. Close to downtown not so sure about...but many places carry it on tap or in the bottle. I'm sure there's many places, might ask the hotel staff.

        1. You need to head straight for Suppenkuche in Hayes Valley. It's close to downtown has lots of great German and Belgian beer and is more of a special occasion meal than Gordon Biersch or Burger Joint (which is just a burger joint). Enjoy!


          2 Replies
          1. re: chowmamasf

            I agree with the Suppenkuche rec. No brainer for a beer guy.

            1. re: Fussy Foodie

              Note that Suppenkuche is closed for renovations but will reopen next Monday. From today's Chronicle...

              No worries: Fans of Suppenkuche, the boisterous German restaurant in Hayes Valley (525 Laguna St., at Hayes), fear not: Even though the doors are shuttered, it's just for renovations. According to the answering machine, Suppenkuche is scheduled to reopen on Monday.

          2. Magnolia Pub. Best food of any of the brewpubs around here.

            Magnolia Pub & Brewery
            1398 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

            1. Luka's Taproom in Oakland seems ideal. Fantastic selection of imported and artisan domestic beers on tap and by the bottle paired with excellent food and a damn fine burger and fries. Not quite a bar, not quite a restaurant, it strikes the balance that you're looking for.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                I love Lukas! There are a lot of good places in Oakland....maybe a little harder to access from the OP's location. For beer itself, Toronado is a unique SF experience, although I don't know about the food.

              2. if you are going to sonoma at any point in your visit do not miss Russia River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. they are brewing the best beer in California and possibly the country at this time. Their Double IPA, Pliny the Elder, is amazingly hoppy and not as bitter as you'd think. it's a special place for beer. they only have pizza's, calzones, foccacia's, and a few appetizers on their menu, but the food is pretty solid as well. it's a drive up that way, 50 minutes, but a place not to be missed for a true beer lover.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Big Larry

                  Same goes for Lanesplitter in Berkeley and Oakland. The Oakland branch had a cask-conditioned Racer 5 on hand pump the other night, doesn't get any better than that. Menu's limited to salad, pizza, and lasagna.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I agree that the food at 21st amendment has gone downhill a bit, but having said that, you can have a good meal if you stick to calamari and burgers, and the beer can be quite good. They were pouring a double IPA called Double Trouble recently along with Imperial stout. Another option is Thirsty Bear. Pretty good beer but small plates and tapas

                2. also, it seems like you might be around on a Friday, which is sort of an open house at Drakes Brewery in San Leandro. Very good beer and the grilled food is free, though tipping is encouraged. It's not what I would consider a special occassion environment though it certainly is unique

                  1. THANKS from NC everyone! I'm going to look at these suggestions and pick from among them. I appreciate your willingness to help out -- it looks like we'll have lots of options for a birthday dinner he will love.

                    1. What kind of beer guy is he? Belgian, hop head, etc? If Belgian, I think it Luka's in Oakland is the best fit and is a nice birthday spot. If he is looking for more hop-centric, then the choices are a bit more tough in the immediate area. Any place with Racer 5 would be fine, but what he would really want is a Pliny the Elder. If you are able to drive out of the city for a day, then a trip to Santa Rosa (for Russian River Brewing Company--which has a fantastic combo of IPAs and belgian-style) would be in order, or even to Healdsburg for Bear Republic (maker of the Racer 5). RRBC is a pizza place though, but Bear Republic has a larger menu.

                      Also, is he interested in trying one brewery or a showcase of local craft beers? The latter is hard to find here combined with good food. Sure, there is the Toronado (in the lower Haight - a beer lover's mecca) and Barclay's in Oakland, but the Bay Area actually lacks a place that does a good job of combining a range of local beers (on tap and bottles) with excellent fresh food (unlike San Diego).

                      Also, if he is truly a beer fiend, you should make a stop at City Beer Store for a beer. it is basement store set-up in SOMA, but the selection is outstanding.

                      1. If your husband is into beer, you've got to get him to Toronado on Saturday. They are having their 20th anniversary celebration this weekend, the public events are listed on their website - http://www.toronado.com/

                        "At last count there were 13 other rare beers that brewers have made or are releasing from their cellars for this event."

                        You might want to eat in the neighborhood (maybe RNM?) and then join the fun.

                        1. Magnolia would be a good choice on a Sunday when it's less likely to be the
                          insanely crowded mess it is on Friday and Saturday evenings. It's right up
                          in the middle of old hippy Haight Street if you're touristing up there. While there
                          are no good seats when it gets crowded, if you can triangulate a table that's
                          as far from the bar, front door, and bathroom as possible you'll be ok.

                          Anchor, as has been mentioned, is the grand old acclaimed magisterial founding
                          father of our microbrewing revolution. But you can probably find it in your hometown.
                          What's not likely to be available there, which personally I like much much more,
                          is the output of the Moonlight Brewing Company: http://www.moonlightbrewing.com/
                          Only on tap and not in a whole lot of places but if you can find some, do not
                          miss it.

                          1. I enjoyed my last meal at 21st Amendment. Their beer is phenomenol. Plus, it's within walking distance of your hotel.

                            Gordon Biersch is a chain. They have a branch in Pasadena as well. If you want unique SF, this ain't it.

                            SF Brew Co. is in North Beach. You could dine elsewhere and head here afterwards. Don't know if they serve food.

                            Ocean Chalet is right by the beach in the Sunset area. Beautiful views.

                            Thirsty Bear Brew Co. has decent food (tapas) and a nice ambience.

                            Magnolia is an SF institution. I've never eaten there but the food looks good. The beer is pretty good too.

                            The last time I stopped by Eldo's Grill & Brewery, they were closed for a major remodel. It may be open by now. Cute neighborhood.

                            You could also take a drive out to Santa Cruz. Seabright Brewery has great food and a wonderful outdoor area. There's also Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery and Coastline Brewery, both of which serves organic beer.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: yehfromthebay

                              I agree with the recommendations in Santa Cruz. Fun town and an enjoyable drive if you have the time.

                              As for Gordon Biersch, I thought it was a fair suggestion and that is why I commented on it above. Having said that, after looking at the other recommendations, and since I havent' lived in the area in awhile, I think you can do better following the advice of the other posts.

                              1. re: yehfromthebay

                                Wow, I didn't know Gordon Biersch had gone national. They have branches in Virginia and DC.

                                Regardless, their regular brews were never very interesting. I've had some good special brews at festivals.

                              2. Rogue Brewery is acclaimed by many as one of the more fantastic brewery's in the country right now. Sorry, I have no idea about the food, they are in North Beach.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: virtualguthrie

                                  Rogue makes fine beers, but they are based in Oregon. The question is whether you want a taste (at one brewery or an overview at a bar) of the local brew scene, or whether you are looking for particular beers/styles of beers, regardless of where such beers come from.

                                  By the way, the Bistro in Hayward is having their IPA festival on Saturday.