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Taps: 10 / Bottles: 75
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
1402 Grant Ave
phone: (415) 963-1713
(Place added by: funkmaster229 on 12-11-2008)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 16 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
A small, easily missed spot just far enough away from the touristy part of San Francisco that you aren't overwhelmed with tourists, but aren't getting disapproving stares from regulars either. Dark, but very intimate surroundings. The downstairs, bar portion almost forces social interaction because of how proximal everyone is to each other--including the bar keep. Speaking of the bar keep, he is most likely on some type of speed. I won't venture to guess whether it's cocaine or meth, but he probably does indulge in one or both. While he is not necessarily off-putting, he does wait on you with a contempt and condescension that is usual in places that specialize in artisan beers. His beer knowledge is not nearly as vast as he would have you believe, which causes more educated patrons to look over some of his narcissistic features. The beer menu is decent. It is categorized by style, which is helpful. The upstairs is less intimate, but you almost get the sense that you're doing something wrong by being up there. Decent place to visit for two or three beers, but I find myself wanting to leave pretty soon after arriving.
04-14-2012 22:30:48 |
More by DocJitsu
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
This place is decent. Pretty nice ambiance and a fairly good beer selection, albeit extremely predictable. They've got some Allagash (White/Curieux), Dogfish Head (90 Min/Midas Touch/Palo Santo Marron), Delirium Tremens, some De Ranke, Nogne, Duchesse de Bourgog....(yawn)...zzz. Ok, maybe I've become too much of a beer snob for my own good. But really, nearby La Trappe dominates this place, and that's not even considering La Trappe's awesome moules frites. Church Key prices are also pretty high, although not unexpected for a high-end North Beach beer bar.
One interesting feature on the menu is the $2 "mystery beer."
It's something crappy, almost definitely some variety of bland American macro adjunct lager. If you're lucky, it'll be PBR. If you're unlucky, well, let's just say I hope you have lots of Advil and easy toilet access the next day.
Still though, it's another place to get a good beer in the city, and is worth it if you just want to mix it up a bit.
06-24-2009 22:17:16 |
More by nickd717
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$
Church Key is a new beer bar/lounge located in North Beach. For those going, parking around the area is extremely tough. If you are going out later than 6, take public transportation or be prepared to spend $20 to park. They serve only beer and wine and don't do food, but the table next to me had brought in pizza.
It is a fairly tiny space. There are two levels, but I only stayed on the ground floor where the bar is located. There is not a ton of seating room. They have a booth, a few hightops, and some seats at the bar.
They have a few taps that they continually rotate. When you come in they give you a clipboard with their draught offerings as well as their bottle offerings. When I went they had Curieux, Maharaja, Buffalo Belgian Stout, Duchesse, and a few others that I don't recall. The bottle list seemed fairly large, but I did not even take a look at it.
My biggest gripe was that it was a little too loungy for me. Think lots of Eurotrash and crummy Radiohead knockoff bands playing on the stereo.
The prices were in line with what most Belgian beer bars seem to charge (not very cheap). Draught offerings went from $7-$10. I think my Maharaja was $8. The bartender was friendly and quick at getting my beer.
This is by no means a bad place. If you are waiting to eat at Tony's pizza down the street it is a great place to go and have a drink. I prefer La Trappe and Rogue because of their atmospheres.
08-01-2009 19:18:29 |
More by mjl21
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | $$$
I finally went to this place on a first date after my friend told me about it, several times. I don't usually go to North Beach, but I'll hunt our a good beer bar any day.
Initially the place was a little hard to find, no sign other than an actual key logo hanging over the door, which I thought was cool. I walked in and they were playing Mission of Burma or Sonic Youth (both were played that night), HUGE points for me. I go to the bar, the guy behind the counter was really friendly and picked up on the fact that I was on a first date and was really helpful.
I was stoked to see that they had Aventinus' Eisbock on tap, but was not too stoked at the price. Cheaper beer was around $6 and that was for Moylan's irish red and Anchor Steam's OSA. Their bottle selection was very good as well, again, pricey. They had a few bottles of Mikkeller black, which I thought was gone forever. The beer selection overall was good, little pricey, and most of the stuff is readily available Bevmo or other craft beer stores around town. The fact that they had a few of them on tap that I hadn't had before was cool.
The overall vibe was pretty hip but laid back. I felt like I was kind of in a upscale bar/lounge, but the people created kind of a neighborhood bar atmosphere, conflicting images, but I didn't mind.
If you got a few extra bucks, check this place out more for the experience than the beer itself. It's probably one of the better bars in the area, if your not into the upscale shwanky stuff North Beach mostly has to offer.
03-06-2010 19:53:35 |
More by 100floods
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | $$
A nice low key spot in North Beach. Made a quick stop in last night for a couple rounds. Their draft list was pretty good, and it was nice to see decently priced bottles there as well. Started the night with a Telegraph California Ale and ended it with an oatmeal stout from Ninkasi. The crowd was a mix of personalities, most of which seemed to appreciate better beer. The bar had a mixed vibe, that of part beer bar and part scene-like. I would definitely like to make another trip here and become more familiar with what they offer from time to time.
09-27-2010 00:53:30 |
More by d0ggnate
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | $$$
This was my 2nd attempt (a few years in between) and stopping by the Church Key while in the charming North Beach region of SF. This time the place was actually open and in existence (not sure what happened that previous night...)
Cool place - small, split level bar that is high on cozyness no matter where you are. Tap selection was small - maybe only 8 or so beers, though it looked like the number was usually a little higher (empty spots on the board). Still, there were good choices to be had and my ruination hit the spot.
Pretty cool neighborhood spot - not one to got out of the way for, but if dining down in North Beach and in need of a pint (and dont feel like going to la trappe or rogue), here is another good option.
07-09-2013 00:33:56 |
More by dirtylou
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$$
Visited 4/24/2011, on a Sunday night.
This is a small unassuming place marked only by a key hanging above the door, or at least thats all I noticed while walking up the sidewalk. Inside is a bar, a handful of tables, and a stair case leading to the loft where there are more tables. Didnt go upstairs, just ordered a sausage and a bottle of Hanssens Gueuze (wasnt excited about the $22 price tag on a 375ml bottle though) and sat in front of the window next to the entrance.
There was some music playing that I didnt pay much attention to. Over all the place was pretty dark but aside from reading the beer menu it wasnt an issue. My food came on a wooden board complete with a small loaf of bread and some sauerkraut.
I only saw one employee in the whole place and she was working behind the bar. She was really nice and helpful. She accidentally charged too little for our food and drinks but when I corrected her she still gave me a break.
Had a small glass of the Uinta Kolsch along with my bottle of Hanssens. Nice place, would stop in again if in the immediate area but in the end it's not a huge beer destination.
04-28-2011 18:34:55 |
More by t0rin0
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Church Key is marked by an illuminated key by the doorway in the heart of North Beach. Once inside the interior is dark and inviting with a few stools surrounding the small bar. There is plenty of space in the upstairs lounge and by the windows but there was no table service when we visited. Tap and bottle list is impressive with plenty of locals and harder to find beers from out of the region. Bartender was very knowledgeable and was happy to give out samples before we purchased a pint. A much smaller selection than institutions like Toronado but much friendlier atmosphere. Certain nights there is food and a dj.
05-04-2011 22:14:31 |
More by baycat
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Nondescript sign with a church key is the only thing that adorns the outside of this bar. The only thing the keys you in that this is a bar is if music is playing and there is a bit of crowd noise coming from inside. Pretty small space that I remember used to be an antique record store years ago, narrow, with the bar downstairs and a lounge like area upstairs. Decor seems to be cobbled together from some modern furniture without much of a theme.
Usually one person working the bar by themselves and another person helping bus the empty glasses back to be washed. Pours drinks quickly though, but I went on a weekday night and it wasn't too busy. Decent 10 tap selection with mainly US craft beer options for a reasonable price, surprising given Church Key is located in North Beach where almost everything is pricey now.
10-30-2011 19:30:38 |
More by nataku00
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
long walk through Chinatown from the downtown hostel to North Beach... entered into one of the smaller, more cozy spots I hit in town - seemingly devoid of lighting, chill feel - sat at the back near the end of the bar....
Tony, the barkeep that night - quite friendly/outgoing, good guy, enthusiastic - talked up the local food scene, gave a good overview, the best this the best that - conducted the room well
had a bottle of Petrus Oud Bruin, then a bottle of Velvet Merlin, then sampled some drafts.... the bottles range from reasonable to expensive, decent selection of those and drafts, locals don't make up a significant percentage of the bottles - decent-sized list, a lot of stuff I've had before, stuff I didn't care to try...
can't remember if they had a kitchen (don't think so)...hey, if I was a lil more local, I'd probably be semi-regs
05-15-2013 05:44:22 |
More by Bouleboubier
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Church Key in San Francisco, CA
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