10 great places to dig in at a beer garden

— -- You don't need to visit Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest. Bars and restaurants across the country are adding biergartens, or to us English-speakers: beer gardens, where patrons can toss back steins in style. Kaitlyn Goalen, national editor of TastingTable.com, says she looks for three elements in a biergarten: an outdoor setting, communal tables, and Germanic snacks and food. She shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Gene's Sausage Shop


This popular imported-food store recently opened a flower-filled rooftop beer garden, with a hearty menu of grilled house-made sausages, schnitzel, pierogi and sauerkraut. The food pairs perfectly with a rotating tap list of imported and domestic craft brews. "Sausage and beer are historically a match made in heaven," Goalen says. 773-728-7243; genessausageshop.com

Denver Beer Co.


This recently opened beer garden in a converted old garage builds on Denver's rich craft-brew scene. The bar serves only its own creations, like kaffir lime wheat beer or graham cracker porter. "Folks come in and get their beer and walk through the open garage doors" to outdoor picnic tables, Goalen says. "It's a great modern example of an Americanized beer garden." 303-433-2739; denverbeerco.com


Los Angeles

Run by a pair of Germans, this biergarten has a list of more than two dozen German beers and new low-alcohol options such as radler (beer and Sprite). Food options include a pork-schnitzel sandwich topped with sauerkraut, mayo and whole-grain mustard. "They do the sauerkraut in-house. The food is of the highest order," Goalen says. 323-931-9291; wirtshausla.com

Eataly's Birreria

New York

Located on the roof of Eataly, an Italian food superstore in Manhattan, Birreria doesn't pretend to have a German allegiance. But Goalen says it's a biergarten nonetheless, serving house-made beer in an open, communal space. Patrons can enjoy a meal of sausages, mushroom plates or pork shoulder, all while taking in views of the Flatiron and Empire State buildings. "It's a singular experience," she says. 212-229-2560; eatalyny.com/eat/birreria

Frankford Hall


Although indoors, this sleek, contemporary restaurant by Philadelphia's celebrity chef Stephen Starr is still worth mentioning, Goalen says. "It's decidedly informal. You're sitting at a table with strangers, throwing back pints." The food, which includes spaetzle, sausage and oversize Bavarian pretzels, will keep drinkers sated between rounds of mostly German beers, including many offerings on tap. 215-634-3338; frankfordhall.com

Novare Res Bier Café

Portland, Maine

This rooftop deck is all about the beer. Patrons can choose from 25 on tap and 250 different bottles, including many specialty Belgian offerings. "The thing that calls this place out is their vast collection of beer. They have so much on offer," Goalen says. There's also a German-themed menu with items like sausage and sauerkraut. 207-761-2437; novareresbiercafe.com

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

San Diego

The feeling here is more Southern California than Southern Germany, but Goalen says this microbrewery is known for its pioneering brews, including Ruination and Arrogant Old Bastard. It also has a full restaurant, not just a tasting room, allowing guests to sit down and make a night of it. Goalen suggests the courtyard, which has a fire pit. "They're serving food and a large amount of beer in an open and communal place," she says. 760-294-7866;

The Garden at the Monument

Georgetown, Texas

The Monument Café, north of Austin, is known for its chicken-fried steak, but it recently branched out with an outdoor beer garden. Although the food isn't German, the garden looks the part, with sand on the ground and long white wooden picnic benches. Plus there's live music. "It's a really lovely space, and it's completely outside," Goalen says. 512-930-9586; garden.themonumentcafe.com

Der Biergarten


For the look, sound and taste of Germany, Der Biergarten is as traditional as it gets, Goalen says. "It's super German. It feels like you just walked into a place in Munich." The indoor and outdoor restaurant has long wooden tables, and giant steins of beer, and beer hall music oompahs from the speakers. You'll find a wide selection of German beer on draft, and the menu keeps to theme with sausages, schnitzels, pretzels and strudel. 404-521-2728; derbiergarten.com

The Standard


This new outdoor restaurant on D.C's now trendy 14th Street NW is a combination backyard barbecue and beer garden, serving Munich's famed Hofbrau by the liter. It also offers barbecue sandwiches, burgers and sides like hush puppies. "They do a lot on the grill. Everything about it is German, except for the food." But keep in mind, it closes when it runs out of food or in bad weather. Find status updates on Twitter at: @standarddc; standarddc.com