By Benjamin Seto/Focus:Snap:Eat
I’m more a wine than beer drinker, but there’s something about a warm, sunny day that makes me want to just chug down a cold, refreshing mug of beer. That’s exactly what I was doing yesterday when I visited the Westbrae Biergarten in the northwest area of Berkeley.
Westbrae is a popular new beer garden that drew big crowds during the World Cup (lots of soccer fans love beer), so much so that the neighborhood got a bit testy about the noise and lines of people waiting to get into the beer garden. And Westbrae really is a small neighborhood, tucked in between North Berkeley and the emerging Gilman district.
What’s so cute is that the beer garden is actually next door to a nursery, selling plants for your garden. (Get it?)
Westbrae Biergarten has a great vibe, with a mix of people and a lot of kids and dogs. There are four distinct areas to hang out: 1) an umbrella section at the entrance near the beer stand, 2) a fire pit, 3) a children’s play area, and 4) a side covered area with more tables that’s also near the dessert food stand.
I visited with my friend Than, who dove into the deep-fried foods dished out by Pedro’s Brazil Cafe food truck, namely the seasoned fries ($5) and chicken coquettes ($7). Because of my aversion to deep-fried foods, I had a hard time looking for a small bite to go with my beer. (We were hanging out in the afternoon before dinner.) So I ended up trying the carnitas sandwich ($9), which was this huge shredded pork sandwich that had so much happening in it, with the bits of pineapple, olive, jalapeno, and grilled onions. It was a messy but tasty sandwich.
The weather was perfect for hanging out, enjoying good food and beer, many from local breweries. Westbrae Biergarten is like a beer oasis in the heart of a Berkeley neighborhood, and it’s definitely adding to the community.
The deets: Westbrae Biergarten is at 1280 Gilman St. (at Curtis Street), Berkeley. 510-647-9079. Open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. No reservations, major credit cards accepted.