German Fare, Beer, and Camaraderie Find an Unexpected Home in a Once-Isolated San Francisco Lot
Though San Francisco isn’t known for blazing hot summers, there’s never really a “bad” time to enjoy fresh air, delicious food, and drinks with good company, right? Unless perhaps it’s snowing outside, but luckily for San Franciscans, it never snows here. Those who don’t frequent Hayes Valley often may not know about this neighborhood jewel — I’m shocked I didn’t; but with warmer weather comes the desire to be out and about, and that’s when I discovered Suppenküche’s Biergarten.
The Biergarten is located on a vacant, concrete lot that was converted into rentable space in the form of shipping containers, as a part of Hayes Valley’s Proxy Project. The project, which was originally a temporary collaboration between the city and Envelope Architecture+Design, was conceived out of the idea that San Francisco can either squander opportunities for positive growth, or transform this desolate location into a new, revenue-making area for some of the city’s best eateries, artists, and retailers. Five years later, the gang of shipping container shops — now known in the area known as Proxy — has been granted another five years in business, until 2021.
The 100-seat open-air Biergarten is a charming, Bavarian style, neighborhood beer garden, which is an extension of its parent restaurant, Suppenküche. Suppenküche is a friendly and welcoming German restaurant, whose specialty is Bavarian cooking. Known for its traditional German fare, this cozy eatery emphasizes comradery and is one of the first places in San Francisco to offer communal seating. With hearty food that includes sautéed pork loins, braised beef, and, of course, authentic bratwurst mit sauerkraut (pork sausage with sauerkraut), it’s hard not to stuff your face. And, obviously, Suppenküche has an enormous beer (and wine) list featuring a variety of top-notch German, Austrian, and Belgian Beers I cannot pronounce.
The vibrant, lively, and bustling beer garden has communal tables, like Suppenküche, sun umbrellas, illuminated tea lights, and blankets for chilly nights. The ambiance is unbeatable on a warm, San Francisco day — or night. The food goes amazingly well with the extensive list of beers, wines, and ciders it offers. Snack bites include freshly baked, soft pretzels; pickled vegetables (including dill pickles); and bright, fuchsia-colored, pickled deviled eggs. The Biergarten also features a mouthwatering, half-pound, and grass-fed beef burger that’s dressed with a new set of toppings daily. Also available are pork belly sliders and the Gnomeburger, a mini-burger with avocado and a garlic herb aïoli.
There’s also a selection of buttered pretzel sandwiches that include the Guest Knot, made with crispy prosciutto and aged Cheddar, and the salty/ sweet Banana Knot, made with banana, house-made hazelnut butter, and local honey. The star of my beer garden visit was the bratwurst with curry-roasted potatoes. The bratwurst is outstanding in flavor and the curry potatoes serve as an unexpectedly delicious and mouth-cooling side. The Biergarten also features the currywurst and bratdog, which is bratwurst with house made curry ketchup and the other with house-made kraut, respectively.
The Biergarten serves a rotating selection of the best beers out there, from breweries around the world. Moreover, they offer hard ciders — a personal favorite — and an Australian white wine, one red, and daily surprise additions. Beers come in huge mugs, in liter or half-liter sizes, and are perfect for quenching your thirst alongside your savory selections of German fare.
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