Pi Bar– beer bar
1432 Valencia St @ 25th St (Google Map)
Official Site | Yelp | BeerAdvocate
Local microbrew: $5
Open every day 3pm-midnight
MUNI: 12, 14, 26, 27, 48, 49, 67
BART: 24th St/Mission
π, as I will goddamn insist upon calling it, as that’s what’s on the sign out front, is one of the newer additions to San Francisco’s beer scene, and as it is in the trendy Mission district, it got a lot of attention in the weeks up to its unveiling. As I hate everything trendy (aside from the beer renaissance San Francisco seems to be in the middle of) I approached π with one eye squinted, but ended up honestly digging the place.
Locals know that new hipster joints can be woefully pretentious, but you may be pleased to find that π is not at all pretentious (nor really even a hipster joint, if you’re one of those allergic to skinny jeans). Entering the place, you’ll find a large communal table along the Valencia St window and several tables along the right side and in the back. But the pièce de résistance is the huge bar spanning the whole left side of the space. Seriously, you could choreograph a tap number on the bar. Unfortunately, the size of π’s bar prevents there from being another row of tables, so you might not find a seat immediately if there’s more than two or three of you, so shoot for happy hour, as the seats may all be spoken for by about 8pm. (That was the case on my last visit, but it’s worth nothing that the Chronicle and SFist both wrote the place up that morning, so I suppose 8pm is pretty good.) That extra room does make the place feel wide open, but the lights are dimmed on the light walls just enough to keep things comfortable.
The food & beer menus on their website would lead you to beleive they have a dozen bottles available, but that website is happily outdated, as they’re actually up to 30 bottle at present, along with six taps. The taps focus on special and not-so-special releases from the West Coast. Anchor’s Humming Ale was on tap shortly after its release, and they’ll often have at least one non-Pliny offering from RRBC. The bottle list is quite varied and interesting, and you’ll likely to find several beers you may not have even heard of before. Lots of Belgians and other European brews, with surprising attention to glassware.
Even I was a bit overwhelmed by the choices, so I and my friends turned to the bartenders for guidance, and were not disappointed. With a starting point, they were able to recommend several beers, as well as a tasting order and food pairings. (I should mention that I know one of the bartenders here from another bar, but my interactions with the other five bartenders & waitresses over two visits have been fantastic across the board.)
Oh yeah, the pizza. The owner’s from Brooklyn and is the latest in a long line of East Coast transplants who think SF pizza sucks. But to his credit, he’s actually trying to do something about it besides write five-paragraph tirades about it on Arinell’s Yelp page. (Seriously, New Yorkers, if we admit that New York pizza is the bestest pizza in the whole wide world forever and ever amen*, will you shut the fuck up about it?) Pizza is the obvious focus of the kitchen, as there are but a handful of other food options. A slice is 3.14 and the 2πR Happy Hour special is a pint & a slice for $6.28. All in all, it’s a pretty nifty spot to check out.
*-Chicagoans- Between me and you, this, obviously, is a lie.
While you’re in the area…