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Walnut Creek Magazine

Beer Lovers Find Their Herd at San Francisco's Buffalo Theory

Aug 12, 2017 10:49AM ● By Fran Miller


The ‘Buffalo Theory’ is the premise that as the weakest and slowest buffalo are attacked and killed, the collective herd becomes stronger and faster. The proprietors of San Francisco’s Buffalo Theory (1735 Polk St.) reason that, similarly, alcohol attacks and kills the slowest and weakest brain cells first. Thereby, regular and heavy alcohol consumption makes the brain a faster and more efficient machine. It was actually Cheers’ Cliff Clavin who set forth the original conjecture decades ago, and now, lo these many years later, Buffalo Theory invites its guests, most of whom likely have no recollection of the barfly postman, to prove it. And they’ve got 41 beers to help test the proposition.

The Space

Beautifully designed by D-Scheme Studios, the industrial, library-like space provides a nod to the learned, and boasts a wall of books, curio cabinets filled with erudite objects de art, walls covered in vintage newspaper clippings, and comfy leather sofas. The multiple big screens, when not tuned to the latest sporting event, feature classic films. Ceilings are mighty high, with exposed air ducts, pipes and tall columns. 116 seats are found throughout: at the large concrete-top bar, at high top tables, at a window front nook, and in a private room that can be reserved for events. It’s a communal environ – lively and boisterous.

The Beverages

Buffalo Theory prides itself on its exceptional craft beer collection, of which 37 are featured on tap. (They have wine too!) Self-proclaimed beer geek Janna Cruz (who previously worked with Anchor Brewers & Distiller, and 21st Amendment Brewery) heads-up the beverage program and has carefully selected all brews. The offerings include local favorites and obscure national and international beers, with some fixed drafts and some rotating. The remaining taps are reserved for wine and a nitro-brew coffee from a local coffee company. The beer menu is conveniently divided by Sour, Light, Dark, Fruity, Malty, and Other Fun Stuff. Can’t make up your mind? Try a tasting flight of four served inside a heritage library card catalogue drawer – a nod to the literary theme, and the Dewey Decimal System.

The Food

Though the focus is definitely the beer, Buffalo Theory also features bold and innovative bar fare that receives rave reviews. Filipino, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese flavors are interpreted in American-inspired bar bites from Chef Tim Luym, a San Francisco Chronicle 3-star executive chef/restaurateur and 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star from his days at Poleng Lounge. Chef Luym draws on his love of international flavors, ingredients, and techniques in his Americanized ’balikbayan’ interpretations of Filipino pulutan (bar bites), Spanish and Latin inspired tapas, and Japanese inspired shareable plates. Favorites include the BT Burger (Korean marinated chuck and bison with Colby jack, arugula and chili aioli), the Sizzling Sisig Nachos (diced pork medley, shredded cheddar, chicharonnes, and kewpie mayo) and the Pica Pica Beef Salpicao (cubed beef, olive oil, fried garlic, and Worcestershire.) Two tasty salads are offered, as are oysters on the half shell.

Despite having recently celebrated its first anniversary, Buffalo Theory has the vibe of a longtime neighborhood mainstay: friendly, inclusive, and fun. It’s the kind of place Cliff Clavin might frequent – the kind of place where everybody knows your name. 

Open Monday - Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Thursday – Saturday from 5:00 p.m. – Midnight. Happy Hour: Monday – Saturday from 5:00pm until 7:00pm. Enjoy $1 off all craft beer & wine, and snag six oysters, crispy adobo wings, or buffalo wings for $6.

Parties up to 16 can book on Yelp Reservations and larger groups can be accommodated upon request.

Buffalo Theory, 1735 Polk Street, San Francisco 

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