640 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, California
Visited lots in the summer of 2007
Being from the Midwest and this having been before Gordon Biersch’s expansion into many of its eastern locations, I had never heard of the place when I moved to Palo Alto. I just thought it was nice to have a brewpub a few miles away from my apartment. I would soon find out, though, that Gordon Biersch is a decently sized chain. And though my initial thoughts were to shun such a place, I have to admit that they’re pretty damn good.
The Palo Alto location was the first, I believe. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. It’s a really nice place with towering banners, a bit of a contemporary warehouse feel, and delicious everything. The beers are spectacularly done, even if there isn’t a huge amount of variety from month to month. The food is a bit expensive, but really tasty, and the garlic fries are to die for.
All in all, there really is no difference between the Palo Alto and San Francisco locations of Gordon-Biersch, except that the Palo Alto location was their first, has much better parking options, and is a hell of a lot easier to get to. But past that, both have extremely hip, up-scale interiors with soft lighting, plenty of plasmas and giant Gordon-Biersch banners. They get points for style, but lose them for homey, local feelings.
Everything I’ve had here is great, but sometimes its not quite enough. Well, I take that back. The appetizers are just that… appetizers. Some places feed you huge appetizers that could easily be split between four people or be eaten as a meal, but not here. This in itself is not problem, except that they still cost $8.00 a pop. Anyways, the pizzas here are great, but if you really want a treat, get a burger with garlic fries. The burgers are decently big and juicy, and the garlic fries are the best things on the menu.
Brewed in the traditional German fashion, you will not find any ale here. Every beer is a lager, which is fine because there are still plenty of selections. Besides the always-wonderful seasonals, my favorites include the Marzen, Blonde Bock and Schwartzbier. The Marzen is sweet but spicy, the bock is full-bodied with plenty of flavor, and the Schwartz has all of the depth and taste of a stout without the heaviness. The Weiss is also good, but I’m not a big wheat fan.
I’ve aways had wonderful bartenders in Palo Alto, but the San Francisco location was a bit slow on the uptake. Either way, nothing great or terrible either way.