10 Craft-Beer-Focused Restaurants Across the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  January 27, 2014

Craft beer bars have been around for decades, but more and more restaurants are beginning to shape their menus around beer - not wine. Below we're taking a look at some of the restaurants and gastropubs that are focusing on suds. 

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Alla Spina, Philadelphia

    Marc Vetri’s birreria is even more into beer than the Italian drink houses it’s fashioned after, pouring from more than 20 taps that feature brews both local - the house beer is made by Victory - and from overseas. The bottle and can list features nearly a hundred more options, including from Italy’s burgeoning craft scene, and a menu of pork-centric plates provides a perfect foil.

  • Credit: Alex Gregg

    The Hay Merchant, Houston

    The folks at Houston’s The Hay Merchant focus their menu and concept entirely around their beer program, which is curated from local Texas brewers and at any given time offers more than 50 different craft brews. Their menu offers upscale takes on classic bar staples that pair perfectly with the homegrown craft beers: try the blood sausage queso fundido, the Cajun meat pies or the homemade Wagyu beef jerky.

  • BRU handbuilt ales & eats, Boulder, CO

    Boulder's teeming with multihyphenates, but Ian Clark stands out even in that DIY community. He cooks, gardens, makes beer and keeps bees - and he brings all his talents together at this sunny brewpub, where ales tinged with juniper, lemongrass and honey accompany innovative comfort food like corned beef brisket with stout-infused barbecue sauce and carrot sauerkraut or sourdough pizza topped with eggs, sausage gravy and roasted chiles.

  • ChurchKey at Birch & Barley, Washington, DC

    At Birch & Barley and its upstairs bar, ChurchKey, beer director Greg Engert has composed a list of 555 craft beers divided into categories like "tart and funky," "smoke" and "fruit and spice." The perfect beer-pairing dish? Try the Logan Circle restaurant's legendary brat burger topped with beer-braised sauerkraut and Emmenthaler cheese, all served with fries.

  • Luksus, Brooklyn, NY

    The back room of Scandinavian Greenpoint craft brew mecca, Torst, offers up a $75 prix fixe menu that skews Scandinavian and that offers optional beer pairings with each course. The sparse, smallish space only has but 26 seats, but an open kitchen make it a hot spot for the hipster set of craft beer snobs.

  • Monk's Kettle, San Francisco

    Chef Adam Dulye crafts a menu of sustainable and organic bites to go along with a list of more than 200 mostly Belgian and German beers at this Mission District hot spot. Pair your brews with dishes such as a half chicken roasted under a brick with cranberry beans and pickled peppers or duck cassoulet with fennel sausage, flageolet beans and heirloom carrots.

  • The Pike Brewing Company, Seattle

    Pike Brewing Company, launched decades ago, is the mother of Seattle's artisanal beer movement and ever-evolving in its delicious mission. The crazy-popular pub at Pike Place Market was one of the very first restaurants in the region to embrace the farm-to-fork concept long before it was a ubiquitous trend. A perfect way to experience The Pike is to order a sampler of beer and start with the outstanding charcuterie plate. The menu also features a cheese plate with ale pairings. We love the Naughty Nellie and the XXXXX Extra Stout alongside just about everything on the extensive menu. The ale-steamed Penn Cove mussels are exceptional, as is the Dungeness crab chowder.

  • BRC Gastropub, Houston

    There's nothing light about BRC Gastropub - the beer or the food - but nothing about the craft beer movement is. This cozy spot doesn't have the largest set of beer taps around (it's currently at around 28 taps), but the combination of their craft beer selection paired with a menu of items like cheddar biscuits with bacon jam, hearty pub burgers and a meatloaf made with brisket and short rib seems to do the trick.

  • Craft Pride, Austin

    This Rainey Street hot spot focuses on Texas craft beer, with 54 taps representing over 20 breweries from around the state. And more than the beer is local: 90% of the wood inside was repurposed from the house that was formerly on the property, the wooden flight holders and pendants come from a tree that was once in the backyard, and the Texas-shaped wooden slab on the ceiling is a road map to the Lone Star State's breweries. With the addition of Detroit-style pizza trailer Via 313 in the backyard, the locale is a one-stop shop for fun.

  • Wrecking Bar Brewpub, Atlanta

    Housed in the basement area of a former Methodist Church, the Wrecking Bar Brewpub opened in mid-2011 and quickly became a home base for Atlanta's beer crowd. One of the reasons is because the Wrecking Bar brews a rotating selection of more than a dozen beers in house, from sharp IPAs to light kolsches and heavy coffee-infused stouts. But microbreweries are a dime a dozen these days - it's tougher to find ones with terrific food, and that's what's kept people packing the Wrecking Bar. Local sausages, cured meats and veggies abound, and more than a few of the menu items incorporate the Wrecking Bar's own beer itself. Even the desserts take advantage of the brews - chocolate stout crème brûlée or IPA ice cream float, anyone?