La Trappe Cafe
Taps: 15 / Bottles: 250
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 54 | Reviews: 49 | Show All Ratings:
4.53/5 rDev +2.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
Atmosphere: The atmosphere was great. Down the winding staircase into the brick walled very "old European" looking bar area. It was beautiful and very fitting for the place. No patrons or staff that were unpleasant. In fact, if you go here and demonstrate your beer nerdness, the bertender does quite appreciate it.
Quality: All the beer we had, both bottled and from the tap, was wonderful and served in proper glassware. They even kept us hydrated with water from pretty swing top bottles (perhaps because we told them we were on a day long bar crawl from The Mission to North Beach).
Service: I loved our bartender, Mike. After he and I understood that we were dealing with true beer lovers, we had a great time discussing beers/food pairings and sharing stories. After a little bit he pulled out three Dogfish Head bottles (Palo Santo, Midas Touch, and 90-Minute) and over the course of our visit split them between me, my two friends, and himself, free of charge. What a guy.
Selection: This was easily the most intimidating beer list I've dealt with. Even a seasoned Toronado patron can be overwhelmed. In the end I went with an '06 Cantillon Framboise (Rose de Gambrimus), which was amazing on tap.
Food: Didn't try it, although we were provided with some nuts, which was nice.
Value: I wouldn't come here to session, but I have no problem paying $11 for Cantillon on tap. Most beers were $8 and up, if I recall correctly.
I had a great time here. This will definitely join Toronado and City Beer Store on my list of musts when I'm home from school in the Bay Area.
01-16-2009 16:38:08 | More by MrFootstones
4.9/5 rDev +10.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$$
Normally I wouldn't start a review with the atmosphere. I'll put up with a lot for a great beer list but... La Trappe is way cool. You walk in upstairs and there's the kitchen and some dining tables. You could stay upstairs if you want, but take the spiral staircase into the cellar. That's where the bar is and it's all exposed brick and dark paint colors and dim lighting. It felt to me like drinking a catacomb or the basement of some cathedral somewhere. Loved it.
Then there's the binder sized beer list that is of course 85-90% Belgian with a handfull of other European and a few outsanding U.S. Belgian styles plus Unibroue. There's plenty of rare beer on the list to keep you interested but the really rare is very pricey. Not a complaint at all but there were a few things that I really wanted that were out of my league price wise.
For the service, we were told when we sat down that service in the Lounge area (dark, brooding and even romantic) was self service at the bar. But after ordering beers and a snack and chatting with the servers and bartenders for a bit at the bar they did table service for us. (I had one of those, "They know I'm a beer guy and they love beer too so we have a mutual respect" type of vibe.)
My price rating is more for the rarities. The taps and most bottles are reasonably priced. But they also have some really great lambics, limitted releases and large format bottles that are expnsive but not out of line for the rarity.
I only get to S.F. once a year or so but this is now (with the Toranado) on my must visit list. Great Place.
12-28-2008 08:52:36 | More by czechsaaz
4.43/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
La Trappe is one of the two places in the Bay Area that specialize in carrying Belgian ales. There are a good 20 or so brews on tap a quite extensive bottle selection (100+). They carry all of the specialty glasses, which makes for a fun time while you enjoy the different beers. The prices are a bit higher than I'd prefer, but the atmosphere certainly makes up for it. There is a lounge area in the back with a comfortable and intimate setting. I haven't tried eating their main dishes, but I must say that the fries and dippers are a great complement to a night of drinking.
All in all, this is one of my favorite bars ever. It can get busy, but never feels crowded, which allows for very relaxing and fun evening.
12-22-2008 06:50:27 | More by nephilae
4.72/5 rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Beer fans in San Francisco have not only a lot of great individual bars to choose from; they also have two short but interesting crawls they can enjoy. On Haight Street, the pleasant Magnolia brewpub is just six blocks down from the City's best beer bar, Toronado.
La Trappe is part of the other crawl. Two short blocks away from La Trappe, down Columbus Avenue at Union, is the Rogue Ales Public House, an excellent spot to sample Rogue and other Northwest brews. (If you really want to keep your crawl moving, you can head down to the OK but not great San Francisco Brewing Company, which is five blocks further down Columbus, at about Pacific.)
La Trappe, at Greenwich and Columbus, is fabulous, particularly for Belgian beer lovers. From the outside of the bar, looking in, you see only a small table area on the main floor. This is misleading. The basement level is huge, and is the center of the action. The atmosphere downstairs is quite appealing, with a look of brick walls and wood dividers and a friendly clientele. But it is a bit noisy.
La Trappe features a standout Belgian beer selection, probably the best on the West Coast. Included are about 17 Belgian brews on tap and 120 in bottles. There are a few non-Belgian beers, too, but nearly all of these are "Belgian-style." The beer menu is a handsome leather-bound thing, which provides good descriptions of the beers, although it does not simplify beer hunting by breaking the beers down into their Belgian beer categories (like dubbels, trippels, golden ales, brown ales, etc.) For true Belgian zealots, the food menu includes such treats as waterzooi (a soup/stew) and mussels prepared in four different ways. And of course, Belgian-style fries are available. The prices are a little high, but not bad for the North Beach area and the quality of the food and beer offered. Servers tend to be pretty knowledgeable and pleasant.
Whether you're just curious about Belgian beers or you know them well, this is a wonderful place to stop in.
The fun way to get there and back on public transport is via the Mason-Powell cable car, which runs from Market and Powell to Bay Street, going right past the bar. It costs $5. Busses number 20 and 30 also run in front of the bar, on their way from downtown to the Marina District and back. Several other bus lines run down Union Street, two blocks away.
10-30-2008 22:39:40 | More by beeryes
4.66/5 rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
What a great spot. We went there around 10:00 or so on a Friday night. Not much happening upstairs, but walk down that spiral staircase and you're in maybe the greatest beer drinking environment in San Francisco. Brick walls, comfortable seating, great layout condusive to relaxing and conversing. The thoroughly impressive list of Belgian beers was thicker than the last book I read, and the bartenders couldn't have been friendlier. My only beef with the place is that they don't open until 6PM; this would be a great lunch spot.
09-07-2008 15:33:22 | More by Rzzzzz
4.65/5 rDev +5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
We brought a large crew of beer lovers here after I finished a big project... finals! Having originated at Rogue, and carried our crew to the streets, I was a bit wary of taking them to this upmarket well lit bar... which felt more restaurant-y on the ground floor. Of course we had no reservations... we had a group that went from an expected 5 or so to about 30 people. After a friendly hostess lead the way to the downward winding stairs, I was living the good life...
Le Trappe accomodated our group's hostile takeover of the downstairs area. Down the winding staircase is a well appointed cellar tavern with light stone, heavy wood tables, and glowing brass handles ready to pull you beautiful beers.
The food was fabulous (I had mussles and tasty pomme frites), the beer was Belgian heaven.
I spent a bit, but it was cheaper than a flight to Ghent.
08-09-2008 18:22:15 | More by 1759Girl
4.64/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
Randomly stumbled upon this place Friday night during my trip up to the bay area. We were actually looking for a different place, but decided to stop here. Glad we did.
Kinda hard to find, although not that far from Fisherman's Wharf. The upstairs (and entrance) totally doesn't look like a bar at all, but once you get inside and go down the stairs, a really cool bar and lounge presents itself. The atmosphere was really great, nice little place with a decent sized bar and plenty of tables. Being underground gives it a bit of a cave feel. There was a decent crowd, especially considering it was early Friday night.
Service was quite good. The bartender helped us right away, and was very knowledgeable and gave good suggestions. However, the staff seemed to have a no-nonsense attitude as well. They seemed to ignore rude and/or stupid people. Which is awesome.
Selection is incredible. I've never seen so many Belgian beers in one place. Obviously the majority of beers were from Belgium, but they had most of the Unibroue beers, as well as a number of American offerings. Something like 20 taps and lots of bottles. I had a Zoetzuur Flemish Ale (which was delicious) and a Rochefort 10. Can't complain about that. Pours were not cheap though. I think it was 8 or 9 bucks for pretty much everything. But still, well worth it.
Didn't get any food, but it all looked pretty good. Fries were served in a cone, which is apparently a pretty traditional European way to serve fries.
Very lucky that I happened on this place. It was fantastic, one of the coolest bars I've been too. I'm sure it will become a Bay Area mainstay in no time. If you're up in 'Frisco, find this place and check it out.
06-17-2008 02:53:28 | More by rxdrewthejew
5/5 rDev +12.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
It pains me to write this review.
Yes, I use sites like Beer Advocate, and I scour the web for details about bars and breweries in places that I am traveling to. But I've also seen how a lot of the great places become overwhelmed with crowds and become a less appealing destination.
I don't want that to happen to La Trappe.
I want them to be successful, so that they are around for me to enjoy for a long time ... but not too successful, if you know what I mean.
That said, La Trappe is simply one of the best Belgian beer bars in the world. And I've been to a lot of them. Bruges t' Biertje. Kulminator. In de Vrede. Beer Circus Croydon (RIP). Belgo Zuid (RIP ... the only Belgo that ever really mattered). Brewer's Art in Baltimore. The Trappist in Oakland. In de Wildeman. The Gollem. Academie de la Biere (Paris), Delirium Cafe and Tap Room. I could go on, but off the top of my head that's a good top 10 list. And not to mention countless others with vast beer selections that were not necessarily Belgian focused.
La Trappe in San Francisco is less than a year old, but it is well on its way to establishing itself as one of the best Belgian bars in the United States ... or for that matter, the world.
Indeed, it is almost as if Belgium has annexed 800 Greenwich Street.
Why do I give La Trappe such high marks?
Well, of course, the beer comes first. Their growing beer list has over 200 beers ... mostly Belgian, with a few interesting Belgian inspired American offerings, such as Jolly Pumpkin La Roja. 15 rotating taps, including my new favorite, Zoetzuur.
Second, there's the atmosphere. When you first walk into La Trappe, it doesn't impress you all that much. You're going to think that you're in the wrong place, a simple neighborhood eatery. Look for the steps leading downstairs if the kitchen staff doesn't point you in that direction. The steps take you down into the beer cave ... a.k.a., the Trappist Lounge ... where beer nirvana awaits.
If you're there with a group ... or a date ... what a great place to hang out.
If you're flying solo ... definitely hang at the bar. I've met some really interesting people there, and some very bizarre people as well. The Irish guy whose job is transporting federal prisoners was a real hoot ... I don't know how much of what he said was real, and how much was delusional, but it doesn't really matter.
This should be enough information to get you to pay a visit to La Trappe ... but wait, there's more.
How about some authentic Belgian food?
Yeah, it's a restaurant too. The moules and frites over coconut jalapeno rice rocks. I have a hard time ordering anything else. There are other traditional moule pots as well ... waterzooi ... oysters on the half shell.
And their fish soup is the best that you'll find west of Bruges. Well, it will be. That is the only thing missing. So when you visit, be sure to ask Michael about the fish soup. Once that's added to the menu, the perfect Belgian bar and restaurant will finally exist.
It pains me to know that the next time I visit La Trappe, it'll probably be hard to get a seat at the bar. But on the other hand, if fish soup is on the menu, that's a small price to pay.
06-14-2008 19:18:33 | More by skippythelizard
4.5/5 rDev +1.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
What do you get when you put a bar in an old brick basement, add candles, old tables, arched brick beams and indirect lighting - oh and Belgian beers on tap? A great Belgian beer bar! La Trappe is terrific. I found the staff attentive and knowledgeable. Food was Belgian like and good, not great, but good. Taps were fresh and they had a terrific selection. Parking is a bit difficult. There is a restaurant upstairs which I would do at lunch.
If you want an authentic old world feeling beer bar with good service and great beers this is your place.
06-04-2008 12:09:01 | More by dougnboston
La Trappe Cafe in San Francisco, CA
97 out of 100 based on 54 ratings.