16 Craft Breweries Where the Food Is as Big a Draw as the Beer

These breweries are pairing craft beer with chef-driven menus.

West Bound and Down
Photo: Adam Larkey Photography

Eating at a brewpub no longer means having to settle for standard hamburgers and chicken wings. Across the country, breweries are upping their food game, with chef-designed menus to match their award-winning beers. Jackson Hole-based hospitality vet Gavin Fine has seen the exact thing happen with his home turf's emerging restaurant scene. Jackson was still in a meat and potatoes state of mind when he opened Rendezvous Bistro in 2001, but now, locals and tourists alike can be found expanding their horizons at a gold medal brewery that serves a Chiang Mai cheesesteak (Thai Me Up) or a refurbished gas station (Bodega) that stocks its own artisanal ice cream and charcuterie at the foot of Grand Teton National Park.

As for Fine's contribution to the increasingly mainstream craft beer market, he tapped home brewer Colby Cox in 2012 to man the tanks at Roadhouse Brewing Co. In 2018, they opened their pub and eatery in the heart of town, where people now regularly gather to sample more than 30 rotating pints with "unique, worldly flavors, carefully curated ingredients, and thoughtfully sourced meats and produce."

"Brewpub fare has come a long way in recent years," Fine said. "Guests want more than just food to soak up the beer. They want to know about the travels that inspired a dish, where the pork came from, and their server's favorite pairings. Every part of our experience needs to be as unique as the beer itself."

Across the country, you'll find breweries that share the same mindset, from a Chicago taproom centered on oysters and cake to a one-of-a-kind Raleigh complex that offers freshly cut flowers and a solid book selection alongside dim sum and left-field draft lines. Here are 16 breweries food lovers should put on their bucket lists.

Lord Hobo (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Lord Hobo
Courtney Pettigano

While the Lord Hobo Brewing empire has expanded to include locations in Seaport and Woburn, Massachusetts, its its dive-y New England bar in Cambridge is still known for its world-class beer list and progressive yet playful food menu. Lurking behind familiar pub fare like chicken wings are fancy interpretations of fast-food classics like a truffle burger on a brioche bun and daily boat cod fish 'n' chips in a beer batter made with their Angelica IPA.

Bobcat Cafe & Brewery (Bristol, Vermont)

Bobcat Cafe and Brewery
Courtesy of Bobcat Cafe and Brewery

Mindful, seasonal food isn't exactly hard to find in Vermont, but it dovetails beautifully with the state's influential craft beer scene at the Bobcat. Skip the typical pub fare on its menu and head straight for the entrees, which include a hearty steak and Guinness pie, Massaman seafood curry, Japanese BBQ tofu, and grilled pork loin with a spicy maple glaze. Not to mention an app or two, including five kinds of chicken wings sourced from Misty Knoll Farms.

Threes Brewing (Brooklyn, New York)

Threes Brewing
Matt Furman Photography

Meat Hook's far-too-short-lived sandwich shop got a second life with Gowanus' Threes Brewing in 2016, which worked out well for both parties. (Before that full-time partnership was finalized, Threes hosted a rotating pop-up kitchen.) This means you can now pair a revolving door of dank IPAs, crisp German lagers, and funky farmhouse ales with an Argentinian choripan or hot chicken fried in spicy duck fat.

La Cabra (Berwyn, Pennsylvania)

La Cabra Brewing
Scott Clay

The mailing list-only masterpieces of former Spanish teacher Dan Popernack finally got out of his garage and into a seven-barrel brewhouse about 45 minutes west of Philadelphia in 2017. To mark the occasion, Popernack green-lit a gastropub menu led by Latin flavors, such as duck empanadas with goat cheese and black beans, an al pastor burger, and quite a few compelling vegetarian dishes (including crispy cauliflower tacos and a "beet belly" counterpoint to the pork that dominates many brewpub menus, La Cabra included).

Brewery Bhavana (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Brewery Bhavana
Julia Wade

As if Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha weren't already busy enough with their buzzworthy Laotian restaurant (Bida Manda) next door, the Luang Prabang natives/tight-knit brother-sister team knock their ambitions straight out of the park with Brewery Bhavana. A dim sum restaurant that doubles as a showcase for the cutting-edge creations of home brewer Patrick Woodson and flower arranger Deana Nguyen, it's gotta be the only place in the country that features a dry cardamom tripel (Bloom), chocolate rye stout (Dig), and mango peppercorn saison (Glean) alongside stir-fried rice cakes, steamed soup dumplings, and pillowy bao rolls.

Edmund's Oast (Charleston, South Carolina)

Edmund's Oast
Courtesy of Edmund's Oast

Daunted by the 48 taps at Edmund's Oast, which feature cult favorites like Fonta Flora, Jester King, and Grimm alongside heady in-house combos like the Caerbannog's Reserve (a "milkshake thick stout" with hints of chocolate, honey, and peanut butter). Head to the restaurant's brewery/taproom, then; it's about a mile away and dials the selection down to Cameron Read's own absurdly fresh handiwork and a more casual, but no less tasty, menu of sandwiches, pizzas, familiar bar food (boiled peanuts, grilled corn, house-cured/smoked charcuterie), and soft serve ice cream.

Wolf's Ridge Brewing (Columbus, Ohio)

Wolf's Ridge
Peach House Productions

Often hovering near the top of local best restaurant lists, Wolf's Ridge Brewing is the star vehicle of both its lead brewer (Christopher Davidson) and chef (Seth Lassak). The latter is a big proponent of "root-to-green" cooking, which explains why a pan-seared duck breast entrée might be plated with parsnip and cashew purée, fava beans, chive blossoms, toasted cashews, and a sour cherry gastrique. To get the full picture of what Lassak is all about, order his tasting menu (including optional beer pairings), which looks and tastes far more complex than it appears.

Wrecking Bar (Atlanta, Georgia)

Wrecking Bar
Andrew Thomas Lee

Draconian laws kept Georgia from becoming a craft beer destination until 2017 — aside from awkward 'tours,' taprooms couldn't ply their wares to the general public before then — but that didn't stop Bob and Kristine Sandage from filling the void with a food-centric brewpub in a historic Victorian home six years earlier. Executive chef Mikey Staniewicz has a lot to do with the Wrecking Bar's rave reviews. Ingredients are sourced from local dairies and farms (including their own), leading to dishes like a raspberry grilled cheese with aged cheddar and their house-cured bacon or Georgia trout with Hickory Hills Farms butternut squash and blistered shistered shishitos.

Batch Brewing Company (Detroit)

Batch Brewing Company
Courtesy of Batch Brewing Company

You know you're near the UP (Michigan's Upper Peninsula) when someone's offering a "seasonal pasty" (think: Hot Pockets for grown-ups) on their taproom menu. Detroit native Matt Johnson headed back home after a long stint in Jonesboro, Arkansas to serve that local staple alongside substantial bolillo sandwiches and satisfying bar snacks. Batch Brewing's menu changes weekly, and you might find hand-twisted soft pretzels, Thai chili chicharrones, and a rotating cast of crisp arancini on offer.

Alulu (Chicago)

Alulu Brewery and Pub
Andrew Brady

Alulu is full of globally inspired flavors that'd please most palates. Check out the masala frites with grilled chicken, dill yogurt, pickled peppers, and curds; vegetable lumpia that cram shiitake mushrooms, kale, potatoes, chickpeas, water chestnuts, onion, and garlic into one crispy package; and a house-recommended pork cutlet that's blanketed with a glorious oyster mushroom lager gravy.

Moody Tongue (Chicago)

Moody Tongue Brewing Company
Courtesy of Moody Tongue Brewing Company

Jared Rouben started the Brew Club at the Culinary Institute of America just two weeks into his time as a student, so it shouldn't be a surprise he ended up being a Goose Island brewmaster years later. Moody Tongue meets Rouben's heavyweight resume halfway. (He also did time in such esteemed kitchens as Martini House and Per Se.) Beer-wise, Rouben follows a "culinary brewing" philosophy that spells his recipes out right on the page; "perennials" include a Peeled Grapefruit Pilsner, Steeped Emperor's Lemon Saison, and Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter. As for the food, Moody Tongue's menu started with a simple offering of two items: one salty (well-sourced oysters) and one sweet (German chocolate cake that's out of this world). They remain the heart of what makes this Pilsen hit so special, largely thanks to pastry chef Shannon Morrison, an old friend from culinary school. She's behind the 12-layer beast that's best experienced in a private beer and cake pairing — the birthday gift for picky beer nerds and curious newbies.

Surly Brewing Co. (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Surly Brewing Co.
Courtesy of Surly Brewing Co.

Quite a few people were surprised — some would even say devastated — when Surly owner Omar Ansari decided to close its acclaimed Brewer's Table in 2017. Located above the massive brewery's main floor and led by James Beard nominee Jorge Guzman, the four-course tasting menu (complete with peerless beer pairings) was considered a pinnacle of Midwestern fine dining among many critics. It wasn't as popular as the populist menu downstairs, however, so the next best thing is now in its place: charred and chewy New Haven-style pizza using house brewer's yeast and pyrotechnic flavor combos like potato, rosemary, garlic, Parmesan, and spring onion (the Walter White) or pepperoni, sweet hot peppers, and burnt honey (I'm Your Daddy). There's also a faithful clam pie that's about as close as one's gonna get to Frank Pepe around these parts.

Martin City Brewing Company (Kansas City, Missouri)

Martin City Brewing Company
B.W. Photography

Matt Moore and Chancie Adams first opened Martin City's flagship pub in 2010 to meet the growing demand for craft beer and quality food in Missouri's biggest metropolitan area. The pair celebrated a significant expansion just four years later by opening a full-on brewery — the original leans heavily on leading hop whisperers like Odell, Bell's, and Lagunitas — and a stone-fired pizzeria next door. Its menu is now mirrored in a larger Overland Park location just 10 minutes away, stretching MCBC's Belgian-inspired footprint across the Kansas state line along with red-sauced revelations and doubling the seating to cut down on patience-testing wait times.

Westbound & Down (Idaho Springs, Colorado)

West Bound and Down
Adam Larkey Photography

Former Table 6 chef Scott Parker helped put this ski country standard on the map with progressive crowd-pleasers like fresh-baked cheddar buns (served with beer cheese, of course); fried green tomatoes served with a coconut-serrano dressing; and a hefty salad headlined by mountain trout, wild ruby rice, poached garlic, pepitas, kale, dried raspberries, and a dry-hopped green tomato coulis. Parker moved on but his experimental spirit lives on at W&D's second location in nearby Denver's Art District.

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens (Escondido, California)

Stone Brewing Company
Courtesy of Stone Brewing Co.

The sprawling headquarters of Stone Brewing (the garden area alone covers an entire acre) is about as close as the craft beer community gets to Disneyland. Surrounded by greenery and perpetually packed despite having more space than most San Diego restaurants, this is where one goes to celebrate one of the industry's biggest players while slamming iconic West Coast IPAs and savoring hemp seed pretzels, honey Sriracha quail knots, and a signature cheddar, garlic and double IPA soup that'd obliterate most vampires and first dates.

Beachwood (Long Beach, California)

Beachwood BBQ
James Dean Ryerson Beachwood BBQ & Brewing

Smoked meats are the main draw at Beachwood's Long Beach location, but chef-owner Gabe Gordon's starters and side dishes ain't too shabby, either. Anything but afterthoughts, they range from a porcini-dusted platter of tater tot poutine to piles of smoked asparagus, roasted garlic-ginger carrots, bleu cheese grits, and a bold ragout of green beans, bacon, and onions. Several West Coast-style IPAs also pair nicely with a burnt ends chili built around brisket, ground veal, cannellini beans, and even more beer, for a nice malty finish.

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