Draft Magazine Top 100 2011
Descend into this cavernous Belgian bar with 19 beauties on tap and a few hundred more in the cellar. Sip on seasonals like Petrus Winter, or opt for rarer beers like Brigand Belgian Ale. Work through a plate of twice-cooked fries with mayo, then sift through the bar’s beer book, loaded with style descriptions, history lessons and beery quotes.
HUFFINGTON POST – San Francisco Guide: The Ultimate Getaway Guide to SF
This North Beach temple to Belgian beer even looks like a monk’s monastery. Descend the spiral staircase from the upstairs dining room into the cave-like bar and ask one of the beer-geek bartenders for a recommendation.
DRAFT best bars: San Francisco
By Noah Davis • Feb 10th, 2009 • Category: Best Bars
This small, two-story bistro and Trappist lounge may be situated just a short walk from the bustling tourist traps of Fisherman’s Wharf, but after one sip of Wittekerke on tap in the basement bar, you’ll feel half a world away from Alcatraz and cable cars. Co-owner Michael Azzalini’s family has owned this building since 1928, and after years of watching Italian restaurants rise and fall here, he decided San Francisco needed more from Belgium — like 19 Belgians on tap and 180 more in bottles.
DRAFT Pub of the Month: La Trappe Cafe
March / April 2009
Should you ever find yourself walking away from the bustling tourist traffic of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and toward the intersection of Greenwich Street and Columbus Avenue, pop into La Trappe Café. The city’s newest Belgian-inspired establishment has colorful history that stretches well beyond the two years this café and bar has been around.
Mike Azzalini, owner of La Trappe, is just one of his lineage to occupy the building at 800 Greenwich Street. According to his grandmother, Teresa DeMattei,a 91-year-old San Francisco native, Mike’s great-grandfather, Joseph Foppiano, purchased the building with another family member in 1928. It has been dressed up as a dance studio, a dentist’s office, The Rolling Wheels Club — a hot rod club run by Mike’s uncle in the ’50s — and even a storage spot where Foppiano aged wine during Prohibition. More recently, the building housed a series of Italian restaurants before arriving at its current incarnation, a Belgian bistro and Trappist lounge.
Those past lives aren’t easily discerned when you’re standing in the doorway eyeing the quaint, ground-floor dining area with its simply dressed tables. Travel downstairs to the dimly lit beer bar and, amid exposed brick and thick wooden beams, you’re even further removed from fountain shops and dentist’s offices.
“I wanted La Trappe to look like brasseries and beer bars from places like Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, and Ghent all wrapped into one,” Azzalini remembers. “I took things from memories and pictures I have from when I spent time there. We had so much to work with already; a dark basement, brick, and a ton of charm that was yearning for a Belgian bar.”
While Euro design sets the stage, La Trappe’s 50-page beer menu is the marquee act. According to Azzalini’s business partner Michael Moore, the downstairs bar stocks 250 bottled beers — 280 with seasonal influxes — plus 19 rotating taps, which recently featured De Ranke XX Bitter, Russian River Sanctification, Maudite, and Val-Dieu Grand Cru.
Azallini and Moore opt to keep advertising to word-of-mouth in an effort to cut down on overhead and keep the beer price affordable. But their quickly amassed following hasn’t missed a beat; the basement bar bustles on weekends.
“Our following is driven by the locals around us,” explains Moore. “It’s very common to hear ‘my friend who lives nearby told me I had to come.’” That’s a friend worth keeping.