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Restaurant Review: Sons of Liberty Alehouse in Livermore | Food News


Sons of Liberty Alehouse serves gastropub fare with an elegant touch.

Don’t be fooled by the name.

The Sons of Liberty Alehouse is neither a political firebrand hangout nor an alehouse—both its San Leandro and Livermore locations are welcoming, upscale gastropubs with inventive cocktails and delicious takes on traditional comfort food.

Let’s start with the Sons of Liberty’s deviled eggs. This version invests large amounts of time in a small dish. The eggs are freshly prepared each day and topped with pickled chilies, crunchy mustard seed, and a sweet and savory bacon jam. The combination of flavors and textures elevates what can often consist of some yellow stuff with red sprinkles into a menu highlight—and that’s just the beginning.

Another appetizer, the shrimp and grits, spices up fresh and delicious prawns with a Creole touch and neatly complements the seafood with jalapeño and white cheddar grits.

A third starter option worth sampling is the smoked brisket nachos, again featuring jalapeños. But the star of the show is the perfectly cooked brisket, which melts in the mouth even as it’s accompanied by the crunch of the chips.


Savor this spinach salad at Sons of Liberty.

It’s only natural to pair the appetizers with a cocktail, and the rotating drinks on the menu are worth exploring.

“We love our cocktails,” says co-owner Teresa Lawrie, whose husband, Tom, runs the bar. “We change [them] every three months”—but it’s not a random selection.

“Everyone on the bar staff brings in five cocktails,” says Tom, “and we sample them all. Then we pick the best and try to make them better. It’s a group effort.”

Our favorite was the Jungle Booby, a tart tropical mixture, but the Panic at the Pisco was an equally fun take on the classic pisco sour.

Those who prefer a sweet libation will love the White Girl Wasted, with its maple-syrup foam and pumpkin flavoring boosting a five-year-aged rum—but tequila, mezcal, and bourbon make up the primary focus on the cocktail list.


The restaurant offers a rotating cocktail selection.

The Lawries, who are Canadian, were especially excited by the wide variety of agave spirits available in the Bay Area, and it felt natural for them to have 80 different kinds of tequila and mezcal behind the bar. (Pro tip: Ask to see the leather-bound menu that not only lists all 80 agave varieties, but also offers 12 pages of bourbon, scotch, and whiskey selections.)

Surprisingly, for an “alehouse,” there’s not an overload of beers on tap (15 in Livermore, 12 in San Leandro), and despite the Livermore location, the wine selection is somewhat limited as well. But given all the other alcoholic options, it seems picky to complain too much.

And there are no complaints about the main courses. The hungry can opt for the fish and chips, featuring large fillets of Alaskan cod, perfectly batter-wrapped, or the massive Niman Ranch double-cut pork chop. The burger is outstanding—in part due to the high-quality Brandt Beef from Southern California—and the duck carnitas are a neat mix of flavor and texture.


Mouthwatering eats are a signature of this Livermore and San Leandro alehouse.

There’s also poutine. The Canadian dish, with french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy, has been a recent addition to trendy menus, but the Lawries have had it on theirs since they opened the San Leandro location in 2016. “We do it traditionally,” says Teresa. “It’s simple—and it’s good for whenever you’re hungover or drunk.”

Also good are the tempting dessert selections, which, like much of the menu, are seasonally based. What remains constant, however, is the ambience, created by the weathered wood, dark colors, and large bar with several TVs tuned to sports right above it. The new Livermore space, which opened across the street from Sauced BBQ and Spirits downtown this fall, has a larger kitchen but less indoor space, meaning it can offer a slightly more expansive menu.

The original site, in Old San Leandro near the new Fieldwork brewpub, has more seating but can be difficult to find. The signage is small, and the restaurant is tucked away at the back of a Safeway parking lot; Teresa has guided more than a few potential customers wandering between cars to the nearly invisible entrance.

And yes, there’s that name. “Food is intertwined with American life and American history,” says Tom, “and it just seemed like a cool name.” Of course, when that decision was made, the Lawries felt it would speak to America’s rich past rather than any current political orientation.

“I don’t want anyone to feel excluded,” says Teresa. “We welcome everyone.” And so do the food and drink. Tom’s goal of a place with “great cocktails, good beer, and excellent food” might not seem that unusual, but putting all those ingredients together is harder than it looks.

Luckily for East Bay drinkers and diners, the Sons of Liberty Alehouse delivers on all three counts.

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