This bucket list item is a special one for me. Schroeder's was my grandfather's favorite restaurant in the city, and he used to take my dad here when he was a kid before going to Giants games. My grandfather died when I was young so I never knew him very well, but my dad has been telling me about Schroeder's for years. For some reason I've never made it there until this past weekend.
Schroeder's has been in San Francisco, in various locations, since 1893, and is currently located on Front Street in the Financial District. When my dad used to go as a boy, women were not allowed at Schroeder's (or as my family surmised, perhaps only certain kinds of women were allowed). Now, women are not only allowed, but encouraged to stuff their faces full of German fare and drink entire boots of beer. Anyone who knows me well knows this was a challenge that I readily accepted. I invited some close friends to join me on this special adventure, and we ended up with a solid group of 7: my husband Dave, Robby, Kim, Gina, Lindsey, Melissa, and me. Oh yes. 5 of us were of the gender who were previously denied admission to this place, and we were planning on making up for lost time.
Schroeder's definitely captures the feeling of an authentic Bavarian beer house: it is constructed mostly of dark wood, lit by old fashioned lanterns, decorated with various animal heads, filled with the smells of beer and brats, and accompanied by a general stickiness on the floor and tables that you know will never go away, no matter how many times they're scrubbed.
Dave and I arrived first, and when we told our Czech waitress we would wait for the others to order beer because we are all planning on ordering boots, she nodded appreciatively. "Das Boots" come in 3 sizes: Small (42 oz, or 3.5 beers), Big (86 oz, or 7 beers), or Giant (104 oz, or 8.5 beers). Tempted by but scared of the Giant, four of us ordered Big boots, and 2 of us ordered Small boots. I think it goes without saying which size I ordered, and thankfully my fellow female Lindsey was right alongside me. Our resident non beer-drinker, Kim, asked if she could have her cider served in a boot, but the waitress told her no in no uncertain terms. Instead, Kim was served her cider in a sad little 12 oz stein that fit easily into our boots (yes, we know this because we tried it around 50% of the way through our boots). Be forewarned: you will not earn any respect from the staff at Schroeder's if you do not drink beer.
After dinner we had to work on finishing our boots, which we were only about halfway through. Naturally, at this point we were starting to feel the beer, and our competitive instincts kicked in.
Das Boots should come with a warning label: "May fool drinker into believing he or she has hot dance moves." Because we dropped it like it was hot all over Vessel. I blame Lindsey, for actually having hot dance moves and for being a machine with whom the rest of us eagerly tried to keep up. I am pretty sure there was dropping of drinks, losing of balance, and a fair amount of gibberish on my end alone. Thanks, Schroeder's!
Once we were smart enough to finally leave, we walked outside to one of the most beautiful sights in San Francisco: the bacon-wrapped hot dog cart, which could easily hold its own as a bucket list item. Forgetting all of the sausage we had eaten just hours earlier, I ordered hot dogs for everyone in my party. I'm not even going to apologize, because that ish was delish.
The verdict: Would I recommend Schroeder's? Absolutely. I chose to go on a Saturday because I was more likely to reserve a big enough table for my group, but from what I hear, Schroeder's really comes to life during work-week happy hours, especially on Fridays. It is the closest you'll find to an authentic German beer hall in San Francisco, and the food, while a bit pricy, was satisfying. Oh, and to add to the sentimentality of it all, we found out that Schroeder's was the location of Gina's parents' second date. If you grew up near the city as Gina and I did, or if someone related to you used to live in San Francisco years ago, it's very likely that Schroeder's is somewhere in your family's history. In a city that is evolving every day, it's nice to celebrate a bit of times past.
I consider this bucket list item crossed off, although I would still like to try Suppenkuche and Biergarten. Stick around, and you might just read about what I think about those German beer locales as well!