Belgium annexes La Trappe, 800 Greenwich Street, San Francisco

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Jun 14th, 2008
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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.

1 Comment

  • Skippy The Lizard

    I should probably add some info about how to find La Trappe.

    It’s on the Powell & Mason cable car line.

    You’ll find it at the corner of Mason, Columbus and Greenwich.