The Perfect Bite
St. Johns Magazine's exclusive reviews of Local Restaurants by Local Foodie Lori Allen
We happened upon Hoptingers Bier Garten this weekend when our original choice had too much of a wait. As we passed by on Anastasia blvd just after the bridge of Lions on the left the place looked busy but not crowded. We have fond memories of drinking beer and eating sausage and sauerkraut in Germany in the good old days of our traveling twenties, so we decided to give it a try. Hoptingers did not disappoint in every arena - fantastic food, not offered elsewhere locally, energized yet private atmosphere, and the best choice of beer on tap we have ever see, with sixty craft beer selections.
Walking in you are met with a wide open NYC loft feeling, brick walls and long tables spread out enough so that each table is a private party. The energy is enhanced by interesting music played at just the right level so that it does not overpower or detract from conversation (they also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights).
First let's talk about the beer. Above the bar, across the brick wall is written "Make Bier not Bombs", a wonderful sentiment. I am typically a Sauvignon blanc kind of girl but with over sixty craft beers staring me in the face on a large chalkboard covering the back wall I had to try a few.
We decided on two ambers, Sweetwater 420 and Belles Amber Ale. These were the perfect compliment to our appetizer of homemade pretzel sticks with cheese sauce. It was also cool that they have the alcohol content listed next to each beer choice so you know what you are getting yourself into.
For our main course, we decided to go with bratwurst and sausages. I ordered the New York Style all beef sausage. These are truly unlike anything you can buy at the store, with deep rich flavor, topped with beer kraut, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes, each bite was a layered taste sensation. The kraut was so good I gobbled it up and had to order more, with an irresistible taste of clove I will not soon forget. For my side, I enjoyed a delicious creamed Kale with horseradish and a hint of cheese flavor.
My husband ordered the Rise and Shiner, a Hoptinger bratwurst with fried egg, caramelized onions and maple smoked bacon. The description alone says it all. For a side he chose the German potato salad, and once again we ordered more because the side was that good.
My son opted for a "Stuft" burger, The Ambulance Driver, a pulled pork cheddar stuffed burger topped with fried onion straws and drizzled with a sweet and tangy smokehouse aioli.
When our meals arrived we did not speak other than to mumble hmmms as we devoured our fine Bavarian fare. We ordered a delicious can't-go-wrong Guinness to accompany our meals which also kind of doubled as dessert.
Hoptinger's Bier Garten is an amazing dining experience. One can find fish tacos and chowder pretty much everywhere in St. Augustine (and I a not complaining as I love all food) but it is a treat to find a place that has food I do not ever make at home and can't find in a store, food that basically knocks your socks off with flavor and balance. The dynamic beer selection was an extra fun perk that made this one of my favorite new places and I promise you I will return again and again.
Hoptinger Bier Garten
200 Anastasia Blvd
St. Augustine, FL 32080
Phone: (904) 217-8100
333 1st Street North
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250
Phone: (904) 222-0796
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Lori Allen is a local who moved from the Boston area to attend Flagler College and never left. She is a family person that loves the beach, football, working out and finding new places to try. Her love for food comes from her northern background and her love of cooking as well as meeting new and interesting people. She has never met a stranger nor has she ever been afraid to try an intriguing place. (Check out all her reviews on stjohnsmag.com)