Even in the Bay Area’s sophisticated food culture, new concepts pop up that make you wonder, “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?” Wursthall, the newest restaurant in downtown San Mateo, might make you think that. It’s bustling ambiance and kid-friendly grub make it a great spot to grab a family meal and a mug of German beer. Read on for some of the menu highlights.
A Californian Take on the German Beer Hall
Wursthall is a collaborative venture between James Beard award-winning author J. Kenji Lopez-Alt along with Adam Simpson and Tyson Mao, owners of the nearby Grape and Grain bar. A winningly modern take on the classic German bierhaus, Wursthall serves up over 28 German and Austrian beers on tap, a wide selection of local beers, alongside a menu full of Californian interpretations of German cuisine. Although it’s a beer hall, the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming to families, and there’s plenty of kid-friendly choices on the menu.
The two-story space is light-filled and lined with long, picnic-style tables. If you’re looking for a bit of quiet or just a nice view, go to the upper level which is more private.
Pub Food, Elevated
The highlight of the food is the collection of wursts, ranging from more traditional bratwurst and Thüringer to Cajun and al pastor. The wurst comes in a fantastic buttery toasted bun (all breads at Wursthall are made by local German bakery Backhaus) that is almost worth the price of the plate alone. You can choose your toppings for the wurst, from sauerkraut to speck-pepper relish, and the plate also comes with their house potato salad and mixed greens. It’s plenty filling for dinner.
Other standouts on the menu include the chicken schnitzel sandwich; vegan döner kebab (German-Turkish sandwich) made with Impossible meat; and their pull-apart pretzels. Don’t forget to try the various mustards from the mini condiment bars set up at each table. The crispy fried potatoes will be a hit with the kids; get the plain for them and the over-the-top bacon and onion version with mustard aioli for yourself. The kids’ menu has plenty of kid appeal, including “kinderwurst”, grilled cheese and chicken schnitzel options.
Besides the outstanding beer selection, there are also wines and non-alcoholic beverages, including Mexican Coke and cold brew coffee, plus milk and juice for the kiddies.
The Fine Details
Although Wursthall is designed as a casual drop-in style place, overwhelming popularity from opening day means long lines, at least for the time being. For families with small kids, your best bet is try to get there before it opens to try a snag a spot near the front of the line. The crowds also start thinning out later at night, although at 9 p.m. they switch to a more limited, wurst-only menu. Also, be sure to bring your credit card; this is a cashless facility.
310 Baldwin Ave.
San Mateo, CA
Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight daily, lunch hours TBA
Which dish are you wanting to try first at Wursthall? Let us know in the comments!
—story and photos by Anita Chu