Welcome to Wunderbar: Peek inside the underground cocktail bar inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales | Peninsula Foodist | The Peninsula Foodist | Almanac Online |

Local Blogs

Peninsula Foodist

By The Peninsula Foodist

E-mail The Peninsula Foodist

About this blog: Get the latest food news with the biweekly Peninsula Foodist newsletter.
We are constantly on the lookout for new and undiscovered meals, from Michelin-starred restaurants to tac...  (More)

View all posts from The Peninsula Foodist

Welcome to Wunderbar: Peek inside the underground cocktail bar inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales

Uploaded: Nov 19, 2021
By Sara Hayden

At Wunderbar, descend underground to feel like you're entering a different world. Take a seat in a black-lit nook or cozy banquette, and sip on a storied cocktail. The intimate cocktail bar, located in the basement of San Mateo's Wursthall beer garden, is celebrating a soft opening now, with plans to fully open Dec. 1.

Despite the required reservations and private entrance, separate from Wursthall's, Wunderbar is not a speakeasy, general manager Xian Choy says. "We didn't want that stuffy, uptight, suspenders connotation."

Wunderbar's menu design is inspired by tarot cards, and can be flipped over: One one side, find a classic cocktail; on the other, find a cocktail with an original twist. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Amberg)

Instead, the space is meant to evoke a whimsical fairytale or underground lair. Shawn Scott Studio, behind designs at Fieldwork Brewing Co. and Magnolia Brewing, took inspiration from Grimm's Fairy Tales, a nod to the German-style beer garden upstairs. Ceramic bunnies, mushrooms, elves and owls, sandy hourglasses and pewter dragons and fairies pepper the decor.

Shawn Scott Studio designed the Wunderbar at Wursthall, taking inspiration from German fairy tales. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Amberg)

The menu design is inspired by tarot cards, and can be flipped over to reveal something different. On one side, find foundational cocktails like an old fashioned made with bourbon, gum and orange bitters or a martini with dry gin, dry vermouth and house orange bitters. On the opposite, find a variation with an original Wunderbar twist, like the Mirror Mirror cocktail, made with rye whiskey, amari and cocoa bitters, or the Siren's Song, made with sake, gin, dashi, lime, aperitivo and white peach bitters.

Also noteworthy is the wine list, which features natural wines and zero-zero wines that are made with minimal intervention. "There aren't any places to drink that in a bar around here," Choy says. "So I decided to bring it into my bar."

Wunderbar's space seats up to 40 people. There's a bar, banquettes and deep bucket chairs and a nook that seats four. The atmosphere is cozy. "It's almost like a different world," Choy says. "We wanted to delve into a fantasy world a little bit."

The Wunderbar may have a private entrance and require reservations, but it's not a speakeasy, says general manager Xian Choy. It's a cozier, more relaxed space. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Amberg)

Wunderbar's opening is a long time coming. The team was two months from opening when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. During the pandemic's initial stages, the team shifted gears, completed designs and tested recipes. Now, Wunderbar's opening follows the 2018 opening of Wursthall, which serves housemade sausage and craft beer upstairs.

"We're back out of the woods, sort of. We're just trying to be as safe as possible," Choy says. Reservations and proof of vaccination are required, for greater peace of mind for both staff and guests. "It doesn't fix everything, but I think if we can create as safe an environment as possible, that's our goal for everyone."

With the current vaccination rate, the team is betting that Wunderbar will be a welcome destination.

"We think people are ready to come out again, even if it is in an underground bar."

Wunderbar // Located below Wursthall at 310 Baldwin Avenue, San Mateo

Dig into food news. Follow the Peninsula Foodist on Instagram and subscribe to the newsletter to get insights on the latest openings and closings, learn what the Foodist is excited about eating, read exclusive interviews and keep up on the trends affecting local restaurants.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Leslie Bain, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Nov 21, 2021 at 1:44 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

Wunderbar looks fabulous! I hope it succeeds.

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Boichik Bagels is opening its newest – and largest – location in Santa Clara this week
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 2,489 views

I Do I Don't: How to build a better marriage Page 15
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 994 views

By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 882 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Almanac readers and foundations contributed over $300,000.