The eternally vacancy-addled Castro just got an appealing new opening in the form of Willkommen, a beer garden from Black Hammer Brewing, a craft firm whose main tap room is on Bryant Street in SoMa. Sometimes, food businesses housed in lots of poured-concrete construction can feel soulless and sterile, but this one — on Market Street near Sanchez — is worth flexing your biceps for a hearty “Prost” over some picnic tables.
Rosa Weisen is the gay day at Oktoberfest in Munich, but that’s not embedded in the DNA here, schwestern, as Willkommen is more LGBTQ-friendly than specifically gay. (At the risk of trafficking in reverse stereotypes, they were playing a Warriors game the other night.) Nor is it particularly Playa-tastic, unlike the trippy-industrial decor at the other Black Hammer. Using readily identifiable tap heads and a nifty, 1980s digital clock-style display, there are about 10 beers — mostly German, but with a few IPAs and other quintessentially American styles — like Nectar of Life Kolsch, Oktoberfestive Märzen, and Bliss Me Witbier. Throw in pub fare like fries, pretzels with beer cheese and mustard, and brats from the Lower Haight’s famed Rosamunde Sausage Grill, and it’s a proper Teutonic experience. And how cool is it that .beer is now a viable url ending now?
Just across Sanchez Street is the empty space that used to be Botellon, formerly Hecho Cantina, formerly Hecho, which couldn’t pull through in spite of any number of pivots. That it’s on the ground floor of a wedge-shaped building of recent vintage would seem like a bad sign. But Willkommen has that easy-to-comprehend factor going for it (as well as plenty of topiary and artfully arranged sound dampeners hanging from the ceiling). Nailing a simple, party-friendly format seems to be the recipe for long-term success in the Castro. Viel Glück!
Willkommen, 2198 Market St., 415-322-3302 or willkommen.beer