Halloween San Francisco Events
Related Articles: Bars, Restaurants, All

The Tipsy Pig

Pork and Pints Just Right

It’s not your typical creaky, dark pub where the lads come to brood. The Marina’s The Tipsy Pig, where the noise level is ear-splitting, is bursting at the seams with beautiful people -- guests and staff alike. What else would be expected of a watering hole and gastropub from the Vintage 415 team (Umami, Mamacita, Blue Barn) who have mastered a simple formula: great drinks and surprisingly good food in a lively atmosphere.

Eight exemplary beers are offered on tap, including Leffe Blond and Chimay White Ale. Choose your parameter: Piglet (10oz.), Pint (16 oz.), and Tipsy Pig (20oz.). Another twenty specialty beers like Delirium Tremens ($9/$18) from Belgium and Japan’s Hitachino White Ale ($8) are offered with alcohol levels topping out at a tipsy 9%. Wines have not been overlooked. Smatterings from around the globe are just as good a complement to the rib-sticking menu ($8-$12 by the glass, $30-$60 by the bottle). And then there are the well-made, no-fuss cocktails, including Strawberry Fields ($9), a summery refresher which blends muddled strawberries with vodka, lime, and simple syrup floated with soda and served in a Mason jar.

A heated back patio could be one of the best outdoor drinking spots in the city, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Our gripes include too much clutter: We found ourselves forced to climb over chairs and tables to get a seat. And on average, it requires about 15-20 minutes to flag down the mere one or two servers (who are often completely frazzled) for the immense space. And to add insult to injury, only a limited number of menu items can be ordered al fresco.

Other facets of the mammoth space include an attractive tin-ceilinged front room with a dark wood bar that is rarely less than two or three people deep. It’s split adjacent to the main dining area, often catching the bar overflow. Towards the back patio, the “library” is a separate quieter area for a more serene dining experience.

Chefs Sam Josi and Daniel Burckhard’s menu is approachable and unique. Starters include a challah-shaped salt-studded pretzel ($7) accompanied with delicious grain mustard and cheese sauce, or the Tipsy Sliders ($12), a Chimay-braised pulled pork wrapped with red cabbage slaw and sprigs of watercress in sweet Hawaiian buns. Tipsy Pig’s hearty version of a wedge salad ($9) is outstanding. Iceberg is replaced with crisp Romaine leaves, dotted with a sharp English blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, and bacon bits topped with superb fried ribbons of sweet shallots.

The smoked bacon mac n’cheese ($8) will be well appreciated by any pork lover. Its bacon fat base is an indulgent choice, paired with Gouda, white cheddar, and Shopshire blue.

A standout entrée is the crispy fried chicken ($18) over a bed of chard mashed potatoes and, for the love of pork, sprinkled with bacon bits. On the other hand, the chicken pot pie a disappointment. On our visit, the filling was too loose and heavy-handed with thyme.

For dessert, we shared the carrot cake ($8), which was akin to dense donuts frosted with cream cheese, covered with sprinkles, and showered with fried cinnamon strips a la a bad childhood birthday party. The presentation was not appetizing, but the accompanying frozen yogurt was delicious. We would’ve been happy enough with that alone.

Few bars have as much to offer as Tipsy Pig. It’s worth many visits, whether for happy hour or a full meal. Just brace yourself before entering the chaotic, noisy spot, where you will most likely need to wait. Know it will be worth it.

Reservations Essential? Yes.