Thursday, April 28, 2011

MAXED OUT: If you tap it they will come

Despite the awesome weather we seem to enjoy here in SD, why take any chances... stay inside!
Our resident safety expert, Max, will give us the low down on the best places for this.

Is it just me or does San Diego have the best weather in the world? Yes, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood and I’m here to tell you where to go drinking in the city kiddos, so strap on your tennies and get ready to get your drink on. Let’s do this!

As you may know I like to drink beer, but what you may not know is that I prefer to drink it outside my humble abode. So today I’m going to give you a list of my favorite places to drink the fizzy deliciousness in the lovely city of San Diego, when to go, and who to look for. The criteria for these havens of hops include tap line-up, service, food and ambiance. Yup, let’s do this!

HOFFER’S – 8282 La Mesa Blvd.

Of course I’m going to start this little ditty off with my place of employment, are you kidding? Let’s see, 24 beers on draft (hand-picked by yours truly and Mr. Michael Craig) a fairly compelling bottle line-up, 20 wines by the glass, 8 ports and over 500 cigars to choose from - my little joint is the best beer bar this side of the I-15 if I do say so myself. Several local restaurants deliver directly to this La Mesa diamond in the rough, my personal favorite being La Torta. Very chill, low key environment, only issue being that if you sit at the bar you are bound to bump your knees once or twice. Service? Duh! I’m the freakin’ barkeep, of course the service is off the hook, dummy! Why do I work here? I LOVE THIS PLACE! Oh, one other problem is that it is in LA MESA! Good news is no flat-billed idiots are picking fights cuz it just ain’t that kinda place. COME VISIT! Sundays are my day there, never too busy, and did I mention, I’m there?

TORONADO – 4026 30th Street

At around 40 beers on draft and around 100 in the bottle this is my personal favorite beer bar in San Diego. Toronado came to San Diego some 5 or 6 years ago and brought with it its San Francisco mind set, as its big brother is in the Lower Haight of the City by the Bay. Their draft list is brilliant, with a wide array of local beers and craft ales from all over the world.

If you don’t like the draft list (which would surprise me) their bottle list has vintage ales that can typically only be found at the breweries themselves. They have three areas in which improvement would be nice. The ambiance is mediocre at best, feeling rather stale and placid at times. The food, made fresh in their kitchen, is slightly over-priced and rather unfulfilling (their mac-n-queso is actually not so shabby, but don’t do the pulled-pork sammy.) And their beer board is rather pretentious with its lack of description on any level. Look for my girl, Brandy, who also happens to be the bar manager and knows what she’s talking about when it comes to the beers. Mondays tend to be the best when it comes to frugality because from 6-close all local beers are $3. Oh, and the outdoor smoking patio is definitely a bonus for this humble patron.

HAMILTON’S TAVERN – 1521 30th Street

The most overrated beer bar in San Diego? Why yes, yes, you are. Nestled in the heart of South Park, this bar is a San Diego must, but you must only go there once to understand why once is enough. The tap list is so pretentious its crazy, featuring Belgian ales and lacking in the San Diego beer scene. You’ll be lucky to find a decent West Coast IPA on draft which simply baffles this old boy’s brain, seeing as though it happens to be located in the capitol of the WCIPA. The food is actually pretty damn good, featuring pub fare that includes great burgers and an amazingly extensive grilled cheese line-up. SIGN ME UP!

If you can find a seat, do yourself a favor, hold on to that with your life cuz it’s going fast. And yes, they allow dogs inside. If you have a dog, cool, but why the hell would you bring your pitbull to a bar? Just doesn’t compute. I don’t know which bartender to go see because I don’t go there very often anymore and the night doesn’t matter because it’s always too loud and crowded. They have a couple of subsidiary bars including Small Bar and Bar Eleven. Small bar is a cool bar during the day but is way too loud and crowded for me at night. I’ve only been to Bar Eleven a few times but I hear that their live music is pretty good. While it is a small venue it sells out fast and can be too crowded, so I hear.

O’BRIEN’S – 4646 Convoy Street

Known as the original beer bar in San Diego, O’Brien’s is a San Diego main stay. While short, its tap list is sweet, the food is good, and the service is better than terrible. Smoking patio: Check. Honestly though, this place is very unassuming, with about 15 beers on draft, but the line-up tends to favor the San Diego scene and leans toward the hoppy side. My favorite! I cannot tell you the best day to go, but as it is more of an Irish pub, I can tell you to avoid any major soccer matches. Don’t really know the bar staff all that well but I can tell you that they tend to be cute and female, so does it really matter? Standard pub fare is offered, good burgers, and great french fries are available. Oh, and the ambiance? Have you ever been to an Irish pub? Ya, feels pretty much like that.


Petco Park is a newer stadium located in the new and improved East Village of downtown San Diego and The Neighborhood is just on the outskirts, and apparently the criteria for working here is either a mustache or a pretty face. While slightly douchey and pretentious, this joint has a tap and bottle list only paralleled in San Diego by Toronado, even breaking down the different categories for you. Their beer menu dismantles the beer world into several categories making it very easy to pick out the beer for the mood that you’re in at any given time. Outdoor smoking patio: Check. I will say that the food is mediocre and over-priced, seeing as though they don’t even offer KETCHUP! I know, right? Try to avoid days when the Padres are playing a home game because those tend to be the days when all of the rejects from La Jolla show up in their polos and loafers and try to avoid the lunch crowd of the downtown cubical-ers. And if you show up on a random Friday afternoon you may run into a couple of handsome fellows on the patio talking sports and crushing several IPAs (Hint: I’m one of those guys.) And if Sarah is there, please say ‘hi’ from Friday Max. And if Liza is there say ‘hi’ from Friday Dean. And if the owner shows up, tell him to shave his silly little mustache!

Alright, you crazy kids, while there are several other “beer bars” in San Diego, those are the only ones that I can really give you a good ear bending on. Feel free to check out some others here in the city and tell me what you think. Maybe your beautiful self can teach me a thing or two. But until next time, and thanks as always for checkin’ out my post, feel free to comment in the section below, on Facebook, or at

And until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me.

(ed. note: Max said, "... while there are several other “beer bars” in San Diego, those are the only ones that I can really give you a good ear bending on." He lies but we'll let him get around to admitting that, himself.)

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