To better inform your voting in CHOW’s monthlong Best Brewpub in America Bracket, we’re throwing a daily spotlight on individual matchups.
A classy Grateful Dead–inspired gastropub may sound like an oxymoron. But trust us here: Located in the sticky heart of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery proves hippie-haters wrong with incredible beer, food, and décor—they even have real linen hand towels in the bathroom! Inside the cozy space—all antique brass fittings, black and white subway tiles, and warm wood—you can take your pick of a variety of award-winning beers.
Magnolia specializes in low-alcohol, English-style session beers, and there are always a few cask ales available on hand pump. The menu is a little upscale: house-made sausages, oysters, chicken liver mousse. But you can still get a good burger and incredible fish and chips. The staff is nice to kids, and there's often something fun going on, like Strong Beer Month in February, or Thursday fried chicken nights.
But before you make a decision, also consider the esteemed Pizza Port Ocean Beach. Pizza Port is a famous chain of microbreweries based in or near what some would call the best craft beer city in the country (San Diego), and its newest location is the neighborhood hangout. A block from Ocean Beach, it's packed with twentysomethings and families, squeezed onto benches at the communal picnic tables that line the place. The food isn't fancy, but elemental and satisfying: giant slabs of gooey pizza and pitchers of well-made beers that you order at the counter. It's all about IPAs: biting, fragrant, hoppy, and fresh. The atmosphere is a cross between a loud, crazy video arcade and a raucous house party. You'll end up talking to your neighbor and drinking a few more beers than you'd anticipated, and you'll leave wanting to go back immediately.
Ready? Go vote. Remember: You can vote once a day in this first round, ending April 23. So don’t forget to come back often to give your thumbs-up for your favorite spot. And may the best brewpub win!
Top photo by Jennifer Yin / SF Beer Week