Downtown Johnny Brown's
Taps: 16 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 45 | Reviews: 41 | Show All Ratings:
4.15/5 rDev -1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Being somewhat hidden in the bland Civic Center, Downtown Johnny Brown's is not that hard to find when in downtown San Diego - once you are able to wend your way through the herds of street drifters psychos and myriad homeless, which seem to own the city. But I digress ...
Upon entry, Johnny's is a small, but humble venue with an excrutiatingly small bar, where the well-oiled locals trade banters with the tattoed servers. The rest of the room is devoted to an array of tables and hightops, the latter being along the windows that look out onto the roomy patio.
The beer selection consists of local brews - as it should be in this beer-centric city. These are scribbled on the chalkboard opposite the "Order Food Here" sign. The service was indifferent but efficient enough. (The table service is initiated after 4pm.) I hit the place during the $1.00 Fish Taco special - these were damn good and obviously reasonable in price.
This was No 4 of my recent SDBW 2012 sojourn - there were plenty of decent specials held here, including one that included Pliny - who gonna quibble bout that.
A worthy stop in the downtown area.
12-10-2012 01:15:13 | More by jjboesen
3.95/5 rDev -5.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
I liked the vibe of this place. Old school 80s ish bar and cafeteria grill. Definitely formatted to serve the local workers. When I went there was a kid sitting next to me at the bar drinking root beer for lunch, it was classic. Turned out he was the bartender's kid. That is nice to see. I basically got personal service since I was the only one at the bar and there were 2 bartenders. There were a lot of people just dining though. I peered into the kitchen, the grease filters hadn't been cleaned in decades but it looked pretty clean to me. My sandwich came out quickly and it was good. Standard pub fare nothing less nothing more. There was a good variety of hot sauce to throw on it. The beer selection was maybe 15 taps, a good variety once again, a few limited things.
07-26-2012 15:21:17 | More by crossovert
3.86/5 rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
I stopped by DJB's while in SD on business based on the BA reviews. A truly authentic beer bar hidden away in a downtown location where you'd least expect it.
JDB's has a great lineup of tasty beers. I went with a Pliny the Elder. I planned to have another and maybe dinner but a few things stopped me. They have a very limited bar area; maybe eight seats. That's certainly a limitation for individuals. Also, my PtE came in a chilled glass. That's not the end of the world but with the lineup they have, do they really think that's the best presentation?
The vibe at DJB's was fantastic. It seemed to be a mix of locals, tourists and many in between. And they have some great outdoor seating. DJB's is well worth a visit if you're in the city; especially if you're not expecting a bar seat.
07-11-2012 01:59:18 | More by GJ40
4.08/5 rDev -2.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $
Was at a work function and wanted to get my hands on Bad Boy and Odins so quick trip 1/2 mile away for 3 beers and back to the event.
Atm- A smallish place with a open feel with a couple pool tables, sports bar feel and a nice shuffleboard table. Small tables, old chair and in the middle of a city block. I would like to say the woman at the bar with her mom was gorgeous and I hope she enjoyed the opera.
Quality- Great rotating tap list from watching it before I headed down to SD. Great local options with some imports as well.
Service- Nice bartender who was quick to chat and help with grabbing beers when I needed a fill.
Selection- Great Alpine, RR, Deschutes, and some more harder to find options.
Value- Was a good deal when I was there. for 3 pints about 15. Ill be coming back for sure.
02-24-2012 21:03:39 | More by FosterJM
3.76/5 rDev -10.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
After one failed attempt at finding this place (though it was only two blocks from our hotel), we managed to fight our way past the dozen Occupy San Diego protesters (and the half dozen newspeople and camera operators and police officers) and into the restaurant.
I did not really dig the vibe. Too bright, run down but not in a cool gritty way, almost completely lacking in charm. As was the service. Tap list was very nice (The Abyss and The Stoic on tap!), and the pours of moderate ABV beers was very generous (22 oz. for the price of 16 oz.).
11-23-2011 19:24:07 | More by sholland119
4.3/5 rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Went here because of a San Diego Beer Week event. Not being from the area, JB's was a little difficult to find since we were relying on GPS and this sits in the middle of a city block with no direct street entrance (that we could tell), we. Actually had to ask the city police who was standing there to make sure we were headed in the right direction.
All the tap selections were great craft beers and what sealed the deal for me, how many establishments can you go to who have The Abyss on draft??? That's a no brainer in my book. They had other assorted high end craft brews from SD plus others.
We didn't have any food, but I'm sure it was very good (as was the service). If you're ever in SD, this is a definite beer destination.
11-23-2011 06:24:11 | More by jzeilinger
New Brunswick (Canada)
4.22/5 rDev +0.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Went in for a couple of beer on a Monday evening...
A: Not what I had expected. It definitely had a neighborhood/sports bar feel to it. They had a deck open, but there was really only about 3-4 other people in the entire place for the 2 hours or so we were there.
Q+Selection: Very decent beer selection. I had a Deschutes Black Butte XXIII and a Ballast Point Yellowtail, both seemed good quality. Judging from their website, they appear to rotate beers quite frequently.
Service: Very good.. prompt and friendly.
F: We had some of their 35c wings and mozza sticks... the mozza sticks were some of the best I've ever had.
O: Comfortable spot, very good selection, and good apps... definitely a spot to return to.
09-30-2011 19:18:49 | More by berley31
4.44/5 rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | $$
I stayed an extra day in San Diego after my recent business meeting to get out and see the town away from co-workers and to be able to hit some prime beer joints. This was my first stop of the day and I was there at about 11:15.
The place was empty except for one small family having an early lunch. Apparently, there was some kind of martial arts competion going on that Saturday, and there was plenty of college football on the televisions as well. Pretty open bar area with a nice looking outdoor seating area as well. I am sure at night the outdoor area is rocking.
The selection was pretty nice. They had about 15 drafts of so. I was looking for something local that isnt available back home and settled on an Alpine Black IPA, which was pretty damn tasty. Other selections including Stone, Bruery, SN, Green Flash, mostly West Coast stuff. I was actually expecting more so this was a bit of a letdown but it was still a very nice selection. I would score 4.25 if possible.
The bartender was a super cool guy but possesed a severe pet peeve of mine: he referred to the Belgian beers as Belgium beers. I would ding him a point on that but he was really cool otherwise.
My first stop was a success. I also got a first hand account of the expense of San Diego; geez!
09-13-2011 19:35:00 | More by SaCkErZ9
4.72/5 rDev +12.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
I'm a bit biased since I've been a regular for 20+ years. I think it is the best "neighborhood" bar downtown, especially since the Gaslamp scene isn't for me. Always a good selection on tap, with a combo of top locals and other quality craft brews from around the country. I like the fact that I can go in and talk with the folks working there without it just being a zoo. Even at busy times, the people who work there will take the time to talk to you and make you feel welcome.
If you are in the downtown area, and want a great bar to relax and enjoy a good beer, then this is the spot. It is kind of hidden, but just look for the large Civic Theatre, and it is right in front in the plaza.
08-26-2011 04:34:16 | More by BeerSinner
5/5 rDev +19.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
Have been here couple of times and there is always something new. When they had the Abyss on tap we were happy to know that a bar so close to home had it. They had a few rare gems on tap that night. When we went again of course it was gone, but still hung out with friends who hadn't been there before. Was a super chill place with a good selection of beer on tap. The thing about this place is if you don't know where it's at you will never find it. It is hidden in a little square civc center. When you find it it's a silver bullet outside and a decent sized bar when you are in. Give this place a shot. Great local place.
06-18-2011 08:49:23 | More by FARGO619
Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego, CA
93 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.