Several years ago, Dave McLean, founder of Magnolia Gastropub in the heart of the Haight Ashbury District, began to look for a place to brew more beer. The tiny brewery in the low ceiling basement under his pub was no longer meeting all the demand for Magnolia’s variety of English-inspired pints.
The next place would be a larger brewery and a serious sit-down BBQ joint in the Dogpatch neighborhood, that old industrial section of the city between China and India Basins, on the Bay side of Potrero Hill. The process of finding a group of investors to go in on building a modern brewery, then actually getting the place, designing both a production brewery and an eatery, and finally getting design and licensing approvals after many rounds of federal, state and local inspections, took nearly five years.
Since beer was urgently needed, the brewery was finished first, and Magnolia finally began brewing bigger batches in Dogpatch a few months ago. Finally, the restaurant construction site is no more. Smokestack has landed at 2505 Third Street at 22nd Street.
You’ll be delighted by the retro charm of the space. Library ladders for the spirits on the shelves behind the bar glide across. A tuba showing its aged curves peeks through an interior window above. Fresh Magnolia beer — with plenty of choices on tap and on cask — shares the stage with inventive cocktails and the eclectic menu of select BBQ meats and sides from a variety of culinary traditions. Long common tables fill an area in front of a kitchen area that looks like an antique deli or butcher counter.
We’re not even sure how to list this place yet. Magnolia Dogpatch? Magnolia’s Smokestack? What will we all be calling it?
The neighborhood now has two breweries within one long block of Third Street, at 20th and at 22nd Streets. (There is no 21st Street at Third, just to make the street naming in this section even more unpredictable.) It’s easy to drop in at Triple Voodoo, while out for a spin on the T streetcar line. Speakeasy is just south a few stops further south on MUNI, off of Evans Avenue in the Bayview District. Beer-hopping is now clearly possible on the east side, on the old industrial Smokestack side of SF. Check it out.
Explore Beer By BART; use our list of some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best beer places with detailed transit info, so you can get out there to enjoy without driving.