Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant
Where the park meets the Pacific
With killer views of the waves crashing onto Ocean Beach, the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant is one of the best places to grab a bite and watch the sunset in San Francisco. It is also full of local history. The 1925 Spanish Revival building sits at the western edge of Golden Gate park and has had many lives. When first built it was a changing room and city-run restaurant for beach goerrs. During World War II, it was used by the U.S. Army and in 1947, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) moved in and used it as meeting space and social gathering spot. When they moved out in the late 1970s, the building was shuttered, though in 1981, the National Park Service declared the Beach Chalet a National Landmark due to the important frescoes, mosaics, and woodcarvings now spruced up visible in the ground floor visitor center, open free to the public. It wasn't until a local couple with a penchant for home brewing took a chance and bid on the restaurant when it came up for lease, and breathed new life into the historic site. Beach Chalet reopened in 1996 with a line out the front door and has been packing people in ever since. Upstairs, above the visitor center, is Beach Chalet Restaurant where you can grab fresh catch or steaks served with a heavenly view of Ocean Beach. Downstairs, behind the visitor center, is the sunny and more casual Park Chalet that opens into the park. It's the perfect place to let the kids run around, grab a burger or fish and chips, listen to live music on weekends, and sip some of the homemade brews with names like VFW Golden Ale, California Kind, and Riptide Red that nod to the history and location of one of San Francisco's favorite sunny-day hangout spots.
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San Francisco's Finest WPA Murals
During the Great Depression the United States government supported artists by commissioning murals in public buildings. There are several places where you can see the WPA (Works Progress Administration) murals in San Francisco. My favorite spot is The Beach Chalet on The Great Highway near Ocean Beach. All the murals here were painted by Lucien Labaudt. He also painted murals at Coit Tower and George Washington High School. The magnolia wood staircase, featuring sea creatures, was sculpted by Michael von Meyer during the same time. Upstairs is the restaurant and bar with great views of the ocean. The bar has its own brewery and produces special San Francisco beers. Definitely take some time to explore this end of Golden Gate Park on a nice day!
By Clare Olivares, AFAR Local Expert