Grilled pork chops. Courtesy of Jennifer Yin.
For more than a decade, this San Francisco spot was known for its great beer, mediocre food and sticky tabletops. But in 2008, owner Dave McLean decided to clean things up. These days, the menu is a worthy match for the beautifully crafted brews that McLean and head brewer Ben Spencer make in the basement, from the sharp and tangy Kalifornia Kölsch to the silky Cole Porter. Chef Ronnie New uses local ingredients to create beer-friendly dishes like pork cracklings dusted with chile powder or a brewer’s-yeast pizza.
Paul Kahan. Photo courtesy of Blackbird.
The wooden communal tables at this Chicago gastropub are big enough to fit an oompah band. The beer list is equally outsize, featuring every Belgian style known to man: trappists, bruins, lambics, saisons and new-guard micros. Beer director Michael McAvena has a knack for pairing his brews with dishes on the pork- and seafood-dominated menu from owner Paul Kahan (an F&W Best New Chef 1999): He might suggest the Champagne-like Boon Oude Geuze Lambic to go with the best raw oysters in the city, or an off-dry Westmalle Tripel with the charcuterie plate of pork pie with duck–and–foie gras terrine.
Boston-area beer fanatics love Highland, a low-key spot in Somerville, Massachusetts, for American craft brews, such as Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Imperial Stout or Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Chef-owner Mark Romano cooks a peppery goat stew; on “Dixie Fried Soul” Mondays he serves artichoke fritters and crispy buttermilk-soaked fried chicken.