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A Patric

San Francisco: Beer, Cheese, and Bread:

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Hi All,

I'll be in SF in late August. I'm looking for the best cheesemongers, the best bakeries, with excellent sourdough and any other specialties, and places with the best selections of Belgian or Belgian-style beers.

I have had luck searching out quite a few restaurants in the eGullet threads in this forum, but I haven't yet found the above three items.

Any help would be appreciated.

Best,

Alan

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Hi All,

I'll be in SF in late August.  I'm looking for the best cheesemongers, the best bakeries, with excellent sourdough and any other specialties, and places with the best selections of Belgian or Belgian-style beers.

[...]

Are you looking for places to consume Belgian Beer or places to buy Belgian Beer?

Do they also need to serve food? Also, what sort of bar do you enjoy visiting?

Monk's Kettle in the Mission District (very close to the 16th Street BART station) is quite good. Nice selection of beers and some pretty good food.

I like Toronado, but the vibe of the place isn't for everyone. Surly bartenders and the music is likely to be either Heavy or Speed Metal. Good selection of Belgian Beers, though, and a very good Sausage shop next store to pick up take out food. They let you bring it in to the bar.

It is hard to beat ACME Bread Company for Sourdough. And next door in the Ferry Building is the Cowgirl Creamery retail store.

There's a place in North Beach called La Trappe that is supposed to have good Belgian Beer and food, but I haven't been yet to recommend it personally.

For local beer, some in Belgian style, I'd be remiss not to recommend the Magnolia Brewpub in the Upper Haight neighborhood. Good food, too.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Are you looking for places to consume Belgian Beer or places to buy Belgian Beer?

Do they also need to serve food?  Also, what sort of bar do you enjoy visiting?

Thank you for the links. I'll take a look.

To answer your questions, I'm looking for both bars/restaurants, and beer stores. As for the bars/restaurants, I am flexible, though speed metal is not exactly on the list of things that I normally enjoy. Bars with some sort of food are definitely better. Here is an example of a bar in NYC that I absolutely love:

http://www.spuytenduyvilnyc.com/generalinfo.htm

They have a wide selection of bottled Belgian beers, charcuterie and cheese. It isn't too crazy, and it has character.

I'm not looking for an SF version of Spuyten Duyvil, necessarily, but just some place with a very good beer selection and decent, simple food.

As for the beer store, selection is of primary importance as I'd like to find some Belgians that I have yet to try so that I can bring a few back home with me.

I'll definitely make it to the Ferry Building. I love Cow Girl Creamery and I though I didn't have the time to stop by Acme last time I was there, I'll do so this time. Any further suggestions are welcome, though, as I won't be limiting myself to visiting only one store of each genre.

Best,

Alan

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[...]

To answer your questions, I'm looking for both bars/restaurants, and beer stores.  As for the bars/restaurants, I am flexible, though speed metal is not exactly on the list of things that I normally enjoy.  Bars with some sort of food are definitely better.  Here is an example of a bar in NYC that I absolutely love:

http://www.spuytenduyvilnyc.com/generalinfo.htm

[...]

Looks like a great place! I'll have to add it to my list for the next time I visit New York.

For my money, the two stores with the best selection of esoteric beers are City Beer Store and Plump Jack Wines. City Beer is also unusual in that it has some beers on tap and a small selection of cheeses to nosh on while you drink.

Even though it is primarily a cocktail bar, Alembic Bar, up the street from Magnolia, has a good selection of belgian bottles and some well selected taps. Tasty food, as well. Very similar look and style to Spuyten Duyvil.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Thanks Erik!

It looks like this just about covers my beer "needs."

As for bread/baked goods, are there any excellent pastry shops that anyone can recommend?

Also, as for the Cowgirl Creamery, if I recall correctly--and I may not--a large portion of the selection was American-made, which is great, but I also wonder if there are any shops that have a great selection of European imported cheeses that might be similar to Artisanal or Murray's in NYC, or even better?

Best,

Alan

--edited to correct punctuation


Edited by A Patric (log)

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[...]

Also, as for the Cowgirl Creamery, if I recall correctly--and I may not--a large portion of the selection was American-made, which is great, but I also wonder if there are any shops that have a great selection of European imported cheeses that might be similar to Artisanal or Murray's in NYC, or even better?

[...]

Alan, actually cowgirl gets quite a few cheeses from Neal's Yard in England and other places, so not all American. Beyond special trips down to Cowgirl, I tend to buy cheese at the local natural grocery, whole foods, or the Farmers' Market. About the only other places I can think of are 24th Street Cheese Company and Say Cheese. Both are pretty good, but nothing I would go out of my way for.

I'm hoping someone else will jump in on the pastry/bread front, as it's not really my area of expertise. For what it's worth, I like the yeast breads at Arizmendi and the French style pastries at Boulange de Cole. A lot of people seem to like Tartine, but I don't really get the appeal.

If you're lucky, Chris Cosentino's new Boccalone store front in the Ferry Building will be open by the time you visit in August.

Not cheese, beer, bread or pastry, but did you know that that Le Sanctuaire now has a store here in San Francisco? I mean, if you want to blow through a bunch of cash...


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I vote for Cowgirl Creamery and Acme Bread, which I both love. Arizmendi, which is an offspring of the Cheese Board Bakery in Berkeley, is another fav.

For pastry I point people to Citizen Cake: http://www.citizencake.com/

Chef-owner Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake has a new cookbook out too: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Falkners-D...12888163&sr=8-1

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It occurs to me that Rainbow Grocery is a fun place to go. I mean, if you're the sort of person, like me, that finds going to a grocery store fun. It's kind of like Bell Bates in Tribeca, except bigger and weirder.

They do have a very nice cheese selection. In addition, it's just kind of a cool, funny, San Francisco kind of place with a lot of really amazing things. Wacky bulk herbs, unusual condiments, herbal supplements, bizarre sweeteners, bulk nuts, etc.

It's where I get my raw almonds and apricot kernels for orgeat. You can't find that everywhere!


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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[...]

Also, as for the Cowgirl Creamery, if I recall correctly--and I may not--a large portion of the selection was American-made, which is great, but I also wonder if there are any shops that have a great selection of European imported cheeses that might be similar to Artisanal or Murray's in NYC, or even better?

[...]

Alan, actually cowgirl gets quite a few cheeses from Neal's Yard in England and other places, so not all American. Beyond special trips down to Cowgirl, I tend to buy cheese at the local natural grocery, whole foods, or the Farmers' Market. About the only other places I can think of are 24th Street Cheese Company and Say Cheese. Both are pretty good, but nothing I would go out of my way for.

I'm hoping someone else will jump in on the pastry/bread front, as it's not really my area of expertise. For what it's worth, I like the yeast breads at Arizmendi and the French style pastries at Boulange de Cole. A lot of people seem to like Tartine, but I don't really get the appeal.

If you're lucky, Chris Cosentino's new Boccalone store front in the Ferry Building will be open by the time you visit in August.

Not cheese, beer, bread or pastry, but did you know that that Le Sanctuaire now has a store here in San Francisco? I mean, if you want to blow through a bunch of cash...

Erik,

Thanks again for the recommendations. I may just try to make it to all of these and take some notes for next time. Also, I don't know how you read my mind that I consider charcuterie to be one of the 5 major food groups, along with the three in the title of the thread and chocolate, but I'll be crossing my fingers that Boccalone is open too.

Along the same lines, if you haven't visited Salumeria Biellese in NYC, then you are really missing out:

http://www.seriouseats.com/newyork/2008/05...sandwiches.html

http://www.salumeriabiellese.com/retail.html#curedmeats

The place looks like nothing interesting on the outside, or on the inside for that matter, but Mark Buzzio does amazing things with pork and salt. The charcuterie is not even displayed anywhere, but if you ask for a menu, you'll see why the place is heaven for foodies. Fresh Berkshire pork sausages are also available.

Alan

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I vote for Cowgirl Creamery and Acme Bread, which I both love.  Arizmendi, which is an offspring of the Cheese Board Bakery in Berkeley, is another fav.

For pastry I point people to Citizen Cake: http://www.citizencake.com/

Chef-owner Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake has a new cookbook out too: http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Falkners-D...12888163&sr=8-1

I've read about Falkner. I'll definitely stop by. Thanks for that.

Alan

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It occurs to me that Rainbow Grocery is a fun place to go.  I mean, if you're the sort of person, like me, that finds going to a grocery store fun.  It's kind of like Bell Bates in Tribeca, except bigger and weirder.

They do have a very nice cheese selection.  In addition, it's just kind of a cool, funny, San Francisco kind of place with a lot of really amazing things.  Wacky bulk herbs, unusual condiments, herbal supplements, bizarre sweeteners, bulk nuts, etc.

It's where I get my raw almonds and apricot kernels for orgeat.  You can't find that everywhere!

Great! I do enjoy a good trip to the store--especially when it sells things that I can't find elsewhere. I'll have to stop by.

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I agree with the recommendations for La Trappe and City Beer.

Toronado's selection of Belgian beers has been very uneven lately, and their prices have also climbed. I've tried to go to Monk's Kettle several times, but it's always packed. The menu and beer list look ok, but not that impressive and a bit pricey.

If you'll spend time in the east bay as well, the Trappist in downtown Oakland is an excellent bar for (obviously) Belgians:

http://www.thetrappist.com/

Also in Oakland, Luka's has good food and a decent beer selection, with quite a few Belgians:

http://www.lukasoakland.com/

Both are easily accessible by public transit (BART).

Bill

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Patric,

I'm going to confine my suggestions to the city of San Francisco, because if I did Berkeley, Marin, Oakland, Somoma, etc. this would take forever. For what the neighborhood names mean, see this handy neighborhood map.

Bread: Arizmendi Bakery Coop is probably the single best bakery in the city, especially for sourdough (Inner Sunset). Boulange (multiple locations) is probably second, although Acme (Ferry Building) has won international prizes. For non-bread baked goods, Tartine Bakery (Mission) is pretty hard to beat. For that matter, just about any corner grocery in the city is liable to carry bread from Grace Baking, Semifreddi, Bakers of Paris, and/or Boudin, any of which are worth freezing and taking home to your relatives.

Cheese: I agree with everyone that the #1 cheese stop is Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building. Among your #2 stops could be Say Cheese (Cole Valley), Lucca Delicatessen (Mission or Marina), and Bi-Rite Market (Castro).

Also, for bread and cheese, if you're going to be here on a Saturday you must must must go to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.

Beer: San Francisco is not a really good place for Belgian beers. There are no direct flights from Brussels, and few from Amsterdam, so you'll have a hard time finding real Belgians on cask. I'd recommend instead going to local brewpubs (where they make the beer on the premises) in hopes of them having a Belgian-style. Best shots among these are Magnolia's (Haight-Ashbury), 21st Amendment (SOMA) and Thirsty Bear (SOMA). The Beach Chalet also makes some decent beers (and has a terrific view of the Pacific Ocean) but I've never seen a Belgian-style there.

Now, San Francisco does get 5 flights/day from Frankfurt, so it's an excellent place to have German beers. Good places for German beers include the Toranado (Lower Haight), Suppenkuche (Hayes Valley), and Shroeder's (Financial District).

Feel free to ping me for more recommendations.


Edited by TheFuzzy (log)

The Fuzzy Chef

www.fuzzychef.org

Think globally, eat globally

San Francisco

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Patric,

I'm going to confine my suggestions to the city of San Francisco, because if I did Berkeley, Marin, Oakland, Somoma, etc. this would take forever.  For what the neighborhood names mean, see this handy neighborhood map.

Bread:  Arizmendi Bakery Coop is probably the single best bakery in the city, especially for sourdough (Inner Sunset).  Boulange (multiple locations) is probably second, although Acme (Ferry Building) has won international prizes.  For non-bread baked goods, Tartine Bakery (Mission) is pretty hard to beat.  For that matter, just about any corner grocery in the city is liable to carry bread from Grace Baking, Semifreddi, Bakers of Paris, and/or Boudin, any of which are worth freezing and taking home to your relatives.

Cheese: I agree with everyone that the #1 cheese stop is Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building.  Among your #2 stops could be Say Cheese (Cole Valley), Lucca Delicatessen (Mission or Marina), and Bi-Rite Market (Castro). 

Also, for bread and cheese, if you're going to be here on a Saturday you must must must go to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.

Beer: San Francisco is not a really good place for Belgian beers.  There are no direct flights from Brussels, and few from Amsterdam, so you'll have a hard time finding real Belgians on cask.  I'd recommend instead going to local brewpubs (where they make the beer on the premises) in hopes of them having a Belgian-style.  Best shots among these are Magnolia's (Haight-Ashbury), 21st Amendment (SOMA) and Thirsty Bear (SOMA).  The Beach Chalet also makes some decent beers (and has a terrific view of the Pacific Ocean) but I've never seen a Belgian-style there.

Now, San Francisco does get 5 flights/day from Frankfurt, so it's an excellent place to have German beers.  Good places for German beers include the Toranado (Lower Haight), Suppenkuche (Hayes Valley), and Shroeder's (Financial District).

Feel free to ping me for more recommendations.

Fuzzy Chef,

Thank you for your suggestions. I'll get them all down on paper.

Alan

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