America's Best Beer Gardens Slideshow
September 19, 2012
Denver Beer Co. — Denver
With a booming craft brew scene, it’s no secret that Denver loves beer. This modern, innovative beer garden is housed in a converted garage that opens up to an outdoor area complete with picnic tables. The bar serves its own concoctions that it brews on-site, such as Big Money Maple Nut Brown and Graham Cracker Porter.
Mecklenburg Gardens — Cincinnati
As a historically German city, Cincinnati is home to Mecklenburg Gardens, one of the survivors of the beer garden dry spell during the 20th century. Founded in 1865, Mecklenburg Gardens is the oldest continually running restaurant and beer garden in the city. Co-owner Annamarie Harten told Travel & Leisure that the restaurant used to be a learning institution. "When Mecklenburg Gardens was first opened, German immigrants would assemble in the garden and learn about the American political processes and hold mock elections," she said. Today, however, you can simply enjoy any of the 16 beers on tap or 80 bottles in a lovely garden lined with 100-year old grape vines.
Pilsener Haus — Hoboken, N.J.
Just a ferry ride away from New York City, this beer garden offers relief from the "scene" of city beer gardens. The self-proclaimed "first authentic beer garden in Hoboken," Pilsener Haus models itself after the traditional Austro-Hungarian beer garden. With more than 20 premium imported German drafts to accompany your Bavarian pretzel or bratwurst prepared by a Viennese chef, you can drink like its Oktoberfest without ever having to bust out your passport. With plenty of Oktoberfest lineups planned, including live music, a Leiderhosen contest, pig roasts, and an Oktoberfest dinners, your Oktoberfest is practically planned at Pilsener Haus.
Stone Brewing Co. — San Diego, Calif.
Perhaps the most literal interpretation of the term beer garden, this sprawling 1-acre garden is filled with trees, a koi pond, and long tables where you can take refuge from the San Diego sunshine under umbrellas. With 32 beers on tap, you can find the perfect pairing for one of their dishes like barbecued duck tacos or wild boar baby back ribs.
Biergarten at the Standard — New York City
In New Yorks Meatpacking District, situated below the Highline, is the trendy Standard Hotel. Drawing crowds nightly to its beloved nightclub, there is a buzzworthy atmosphere that carries over to the Standards own beer garden. The Biergarten achieves a balance between old and new by serving up German classics like currywurst and pretzels in a trendy setting with Ping-Pong and communal tables.
Birreria at Eataly — New York City
On the roof of Mario Batali’s Italian mecca, Eataly, is a sophisticated city rooftop beer garden with an Italian twist. Far from the traditional German fare, Birreria features meats, cheeses, and sausages and a list of "well-chosen" draughts and bottles, including Baladin and Del Borgo. And despite New York’s unpredictable summer weather, you can enjoy your beer even in a thunderstorm while shielded by the retractable roof.
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Queens, N.Y.
Established in 1910, this beer garden is one of the oldest in the country. Despite the many beer gardens sprouting up all over the city, New Yorkers from all boroughs continue to make the trek to this institution to fill the 1,000-capacity hall every day. The spacious, family-friendly garden alone can fit 650 guests. Bohemian Hall stays in touch with its Czech roots by serving up klobasa, goulash, and dumplings alongside 14 draft beers, many of them Czech, and hosting a variety of events. "We want to be a place to enjoy yourself and sit on a bench with a stranger and easily make new friends," said Lubos Spacek, Bohemian Hall’s general manager, to DNAinfo.com.
Frankford Hall — Philadelphia
Stephen Starr, the powerhouse behind New York’s Buddakan and Morimoto, opened Frankford Hall in the middle of Philadelphia’s booming food scene. Since Starr comes from a culinary background, he emphasizes the edible at Frankford Hall with a German menu including spatzle and schnitzel, in addition to the more familiar burgers and sausages. Almost Zen-like in its simplicity, the garden has 240 seat outdoors and space for another 160 inside the old warehouse. The bar features 12 beers on tap, including both domestic and German brews. Starr explained the inspiration behind opening his own beer garden to Travel and Leisure: "The beauty of a beer garden is that it’s a social, fun place for people to gather, have a bite and a drink, and enjoy themselves."
Novare Res Bier Café — Portland, Maine
A blend of British, German, Belgian, and even Japanese culture, Novare Res Bier Café in Portland combines the best of the world's drinking experiences. That means you can get great food, from sausage to shrimp tacos, as well as 25 draughts and an impressive selection of more than 300 bottles at this rooftop garden.
Standard — Washington, D.C.
Not to be confused with the Biergarten at the Standard Hotel in New York, Standard in Washington, D.C. puts a BBQ twist on the traditional beer garden. While the menu features a popular pulled pork sandwich, the donut stand where they cook fresh buttermilk donuts in the garden is really what draws the crowds. Just don’t make this your last stop of the night — Standard closes when they run out of barbecue.
The Village Tap — Chicago
The Village Tap has Americanized the beer garden by offering Tex Mex, salads, and burgers. Complete with Pac-Man, a photo booth, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan menu selections, there’s something for everyone in this relaxing garden atmosphere. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy their selection of 26 beers on tap long after summer has passed — with heat lamps and a retractable roof, The Village Tap keeps the Windy City warm all year long.
Zeitgeist — San Francisco
With a tagline like "warm beer, cold women," you wouldn’t expect Zeitgeist to have won countless awards in San Francisco, including Best Outdoor Bar and Best Bloody Mary. But with a stellar happy hour (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday) and 40 beers on tap, ranging from standard to exotic, it’s easy to see why everybody loves Zeitgeist. Have a seat at one of their long wooden tables and enjoy a burger or a bratwurst, depending on your mood. a. With a tagline like "warm beer, cold women," you wouldn’t expect Zeitgeist to have won countless awards in San Francisco, including Best Outdoor Bar and Best Bloody Mary. But with a stellar happy hour (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday) and 40 beers on tap, ranging from standard to exotic, it’s easy to see why everybody loves Zeitgeist. Have a seat at one of their long wooden tables and enjoy a burger or a bratwurst, depending on your mood.
Der Biergarten — Atlanta
For a city with no German roots, Atlanta certainly does a good job of imitating German beer garden style. At Der Biergarten, you feel as if you just arrived in Munich when you are greeted by beer hall music and giant steins of beer. With German beers on tap and a menu selection of sausages, pretzels, and strudel, Der Biergarten is as authentically German as it gets.