- Ellen Frank-Delgado
Although Belgium is the size of Maryland, the tiny country gave rise to some of the best cuisine. Beer, fries, chocolate, mussels, and some of the tastiest treats have arisen from Belgium. Here are the top places to get your Belgian fix in San Francisco, California.
La Trappe Café
Trappist is the name given to the beers made in monasteries across Belgium. This local Belgian bistro and trappist lounge in Russian Hill offers more than 200 beers in a space that may only be described as classically Belgian. In fact, with all of the exposed brick and wooden tables, you’ll be guessing if you were transported to Belgium in La Trappe’s cozy downstairs. If you come early enough to get a table, celebrate with a Delirium Tremens that comes in its classic glass decorated with pink elephants. Be sure to order a plate of fries and enjoy one of the eight dipping sauces as you peruse the 50-page menu. Don’t be too overwhelmed because the menu does conveniently provide descriptions for most of their beers, as well as quick historical tidbits.
La Trappe Café, 800 Greenwich Street, San Francisco, CA 94133, +1 (415) 440-8727
Belga has become a neighborhood gathering place quite quickly. Belga perfectly blends Belgian, French, and German cuisine, but dedicates itself to being a Belgian-inspired brasserie. Come to Belga if you want to enjoy beer tastings, beer cocktails, and frites with garlic aioli in a dimly lit and chatty atmosphere. This Marina/Cow Hollow venue offers a large selection of Belgian beers, but their menu caters to those who are overwhelmed easily with categories like “fruity”, “light to hoppy”, and “funky”. Stop by this hip new spot for dinner. Or, try their brunch menu that will undoubtedly please all your Belgian food needs.
Belga, 2000 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123, +1 (415) 872-7350
Beware: this is not a place to go if you are on a diet. Why? Simply, diets do not exist in Belgium, the land of double-fried fries. Frjtz lets their crispy Belgian fries take the center stage in their mod-meets-Euro-chic venue. In true Belgian fashion, you are given a choice from a large assortment of dipping sauces. While Frjtz does not offer samurai sauce, a spicy sauce sold by the bottle in Belgium, it does offer curry ketchup and a chipotle remoulade. Even so, if you want an authentic experience, an accompanying basic mayonnaise is always a crowd-pleaser.
Frjtz, 590 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA, 94110, +1 (415) 863-8272
An impressive Belgian-inspired restaurant is BEL. This spot draws all inspiration from Belgium, as can be seen in their decor. Upon entering BEL, customers can enjoy street lamps, a replica of the Mannequin Pis, as well as artwork from Belgian artist Axella depicting the romantic city of Bruxelles. Grab a seat, enjoy the cozy atmosphere, and order their already-famous rich beer cheese soup. BEL seeks to provide Belgian hospitality through their Belgian comfort food and quality beer, so be sure to also order one (or two) of their brews. Customer favorites include Duvel, Chimay, Delirium Tremens, as well as Delirium Nocturnum. Another can’t miss item? Their moules frites, which come with a choice of red, white, or green sauce.
BEL, 3215 Mission St., San Francisco, CA, 94110, +1 (415) 206-1000
If you’re looking for a mixture of Belgian, Belgian-style, and American beer, look no further. Located in Oakland, just off the BART stop, you will find The Trappist. The Trappist is all about being a people pleaser, which is why it features not one, but two bars. Each bar has a different menu, as well as rotating taps. Stop by for a quick beer with buddies on your way home from the city. Feeling hungry but don’t want to fill up? Order one of their cheese plates, or split their tasty Reuben sandwich made with homemade sauerkraut.
The Trappist, 460 8th St., Oakland, CA, 94607, +1 (510) 238-8900