I can often be found riding my bike, Peach One, around town. (And no, it's not a fixie.) Granted, I also adore my car (Peach2), especially when I'm sporting some sassy high heels for the evening, or when picking up bubbly from K+L, or if it's raining out. But otherwise, the bike is the shiznit--it's often faster than driving, good for the booty, and the world is practically your parking lot.
Before I started riding in the city, I was totally intimidated about "the rules," so I asked my pal Spider (yes, his real name) to accompany me on a spin so I could learn how to navigate the streets without totally endangering my life or losing my front teeth. So it was only fitting to go check out ~GESTALT HAUS~ with him, a new-ish Mission outpost whose tagline is "Beer, Brats, and Bikes."
As soon as you walk in, there's a big double-decker bike rack where you can rassle your bike into place, praying you don't knock over anyone's De Rosa because odds are good they are playing pool at the table in the front, and will totally shank you. There's something to be said for going to a place where the "one pant leg up" look is de rigueur, and everyone has red cheeks (from the beer, or the ride?) and is schlepping some bulky bag with all their crap in it. Mountain bikes, Bianchis, whatever, everyone is welcome. Even pedestrians. There's also something to be said for liters of beer for $8. Yes, hic.
This hipster beer hall from Anthony LaVia and Carl Shultz is in the former Café La Onda space, with a pretty stripped down ersatz German hofbrau décor: some taxidermy and deer antlers on the black walls, wood tables with mismatched chairs, the aforementioned pool table, and a jukebox (cool, there is some Zeppelin on there). You can totally tell some straight guys designed the place because the ceiling is covered with rows and rows of white Christmas lights (doubling as a night sky?). The single bathroom, which is already covered in graffiti, is gonna have a traffic problem with everyone slugging down liters of beer, but oh well. Let's hope it never goes on the fritz.
The bar has 20 taps, with everything from local to some German brews, from wheat to porter to lager. No PBR--this joint is more about drinking some premium beer and all for the same price (all pints are $4, half-liters are $5, liters are $8)--if they put PBR in the mix, you know people would say they were getting ripped off.
Everyone behind the bar is genuinely nice, and Murphy in particular is a total beer evangelist, happy to give you some tastes and education on what they're pouring before you commit to a monster liter of anything. It would be really easy for the staff to cop some serious 'tude, especially with all the bike mojo floating around, but ya know, it's the exact opposite.
So, the brats (well, the ones you can eat). The Gestalt crew is so dedicated to the brand they use for the pork, beef, and lamb ones (Sonoma Sausage) that they actually drive up to the wine country each week to get them. You'll find organic hot links, Italian, chicken jalapeno, and a whole bunch of other kinds. The ones we had were pretty juicy. There are also some vegan ones so no one is left out.
The setup is pretty bare bones: a soft bun from Bay Bakery, a helping of sauerkraut, and mustard and/or ketchup. That's it, dude. Munich-style, so it's muy simple. (So don't ask for lemon for your Hefeweizen either.) No Rosamunde-esque array of toppings here, nor is there the open grill (Gestalt grills theirs on a panini-maker and the vegan snausages on a George Foreman). On the major plus side, I also don't have to carry my brat next door to Toronado for my beer and some crappy and totally uncalled for beer snob bartender attitude--I don't care how good the beer selection is there, it's just rude.
Don't miss the delish German potato salad ($2)--it's served warm, and made with chicken stock and comes with little bits of bacon in it. No mayo. Fully scrumptious.
I left slightly tipsy, full, and happy to know the names of a couple of the folks working there since I am sure I will be back. A few fun facts: they serve food until closing (so that means late); they have Mexican Coke (the kind in the bottle--for the other stuff, you have to go down the street to the BART station); they plan on opening at noon on the weekends, probably in May or so; and if all goes well, come summer the patio in the back will be open, with room for 20-30 folks. Also, queer ladies: there is a ladies night on Wednesdays, with $1 off on pints or you can get a pint and some hot sausage (the kind you like) for $6.
3159 16th St.
Cross: Albion St.
San Francisco, CA 94110