Tomorrow Palo Alto's SliderBar Cafe will celebrate the grand opening of its second location in the former Criolla Kitchen space at Market and 16th. When we discovered that the beer menu was crafted by Certified Cicerone Eric Cripe (of the Jug Shop), we hustled over to the Castro for some beer and slider pairings.
The first thing that we liked about the menu was the degree of flexibility it allows the diner. A list of nearly 20 sliders runs the gamut from Kobe beef with truffle aioli to ground lamb with feta. Most sliders are in the $3.50-$4.50 range, allowing for a sampling approach. The burgers are large enough to split, so bring a friend to experience even more variety. SliderBar also offers Belgian-style frites with your choice of a dozen dipping sauces. We recommend spending the few bucks to try the entire dipping sauce selection.
All of the 16 well-curated selections on the draft beer list are also available in tasting flights or in individual 4oz tasting pours ranging $2-3. Cripe expects the taps to rotate every couple months or so, with a few permanent staples. As far as pairings go, we enjoyed North Coast Brewing's Le Merle Saison paired with the "Pickled Pink" slider, which features a patty of shrimp, chile, and ginger topped with pickled onions and a cilantro-lime mayo. The Belgian yeast in the beer creates a fruity backbone that plays well with the spicy ginger and zesty aioli.
Another favorite was Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA paired with the "3 Alarm Burger". The pronounced hop character in the beer augmented the spiciness of the habanero jam, pickled jalapenos, and sliced serrano chiles on the grass-fed beef burger [Warning: this burger is not for the faint of heart or those who wish to keep their taste buds].
The bar is also making fun use of the draft beers in a handful of "Beertail" concoctions, including a house-made Michelada with Hofbrau Munchen Original beer. One show-stopper is a beer float with Strauss vanilla bean ice cream floating in a velvety glass of Old Rasputin Imperial stout dispensed from a nitro-pour device (a la Guinness). We're thankful that we can't pour beer like this at home, as we'd never leave the house.