Woods Polk Station
2255 Polk, woodspolkstation.com.
Even smaller than Cerveceria de MateVeza's original space — in an absolutely killer location at Dolores Park's northwest corner — comes another beer-and-empanadas offering from the same team, Woods Polk Station. The Marina/Polk Gulch frontier is a neighborhood lined with purveyors of pure inebriation, so it's great that a civilized (yet unpretentious) place to appreciate quality craft beer has muscled its way in.
The beer isn't simple, but the business plan is. A rotating beer list combines house beers with "guest beers," with authentically Argentine empanadas from El Porteño. Since flights of anything — beer, beignets, whiskey, whatever — automatically make life better, I was a little stymied to see that when I visited, flights were unavailable because Woods Polk Station doesn't serve 3-ounce pours of the guest beers, only the house beers, of which only two were on draft that day. (Understandable, sure, but still kind of bureaucratic.) Nonetheless, the sublimely balanced yet palate-challenging sourness of a Rodenbach Grand Cru Nitro more than made do.
For such a tiny bar, it's decidedly lively. Every table was occupied and most of the elbow room, too. Wall-mounted pegboards keep the beer menus handy, and the warm wood and teal interior is a refreshing change from the endless parade of industrial-chic. Everyone in Russian Hill in possession of a growler should be glad to have this place — and how nice not to have a television blaring in a comfy, sophisticated setting the size of a living room.