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Downtown Johnny Brown's

Not Rated.
Downtown Johnny Brown'sDowntown Johnny Brown's
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

49 Ratings
Ratings: 49
Reviews: 42
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 9.07%
Taps: 16
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1220 3rd Ave
San Diego, California, 92101-4102
United States
phone: (619) 232-8414

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @dtjohnnybrowns

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: xlperro on 04-07-2006)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 49 | Reviews: 42 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of GJ40
3.86/5  rDev -7.9%

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.

GJ40, Jul 11, 2012
Photo of FosterJM
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%

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.

Food- N/A

Value- Was a good deal when I was there. for 3 pints about 15. Ill be coming back for sure.

FosterJM, Feb 24, 2012
Photo of sholland119
3.76/5  rDev -10.3%

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.).

HV

sholland119, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of jzeilinger
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%

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.

jzeilinger, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of berley31
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%

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.

berley31, Sep 30, 2011
Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.44/5  rDev +6%

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!

SaCkErZ9, Sep 13, 2011
Photo of BeerSinner
4.72/5  rDev +12.6%

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.

BeerSinner, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +19.3%

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.

FARGO619, Jun 18, 2011
Photo of Retsinis
3.66/5  rDev -12.6%

Update: 4/05/11

Shortly after originally posting this review, the owner of Downtown Johnny Brown's contacted me via BM, apologizing for the service received, and mentioning that some sort of remodel is planned in the future. As a result of this quick response, I am therefore updating my score to a "B" as to me, that shows a real concern for the business, it's customers, its perception, and in retrospect, one experience of mine should not tarnish the reputation of an establishment with such a long history. So, I am therefore updating my review for that reason, as craft beer bars are not nearly as common as just a bar, and adovacy, and access to better beer is very important to me, and obviously Downtown Johnny Brown's.

Below is my original review. 4/04/11 (score of C)

Stopped in this place after dinner as the last stop of the evening. Went to this place specifically off of the review’s here on BA.

Sorry to say, this place was pretty disappointing. First, the place was empty, at 10 p.m. on a Saturday when they close at 2. (by empty, I mean the bartender and three customers) Not the best sign for me, but then again I'm not crazy if it's wall to wall crowded either.

Second, they had erased their Entire chalk list beer board, because apparently a few kegs blew, not sure why they didn’t just erase those, instead of the whole list. I asked what they had on tap, on three occasions, and the bartender just kept asking me "what kind of beer do you like" instead of just telling me what they had. Maybe he thought him making a suggestion would be helpful, I get it, but by the third time of me asking, "what beers are on tap", and getting the same reply, it came off as condescending that I might not know anything about good beer, and that maybe he didn’t know everything they actually had on tap himself. The place had all of 3 people in there when we got there, so not as though he was too busy to list off at least a few of the taps.

All of the above aside, did get to try a coffee porter from Pizza port, and the SN 30th black barley wine (I had both before), but still good. They have a nice shuffle board, which was very cool, since those are not as common as say a Dartboard, and I always view those as plus to any bar. The place has a old east coast pub look and feel to the place, with some old framed photos on the wall, and wood molding. With that said, in my humble, and bluntly honest opinion, the place could use a bit of a facelift, as it also seemed like a bar a bit passed its prime, and one that use to be a great place to hang out, but has seen better days. For example they say on the menu "best bar in San Diego" 1987. Great, that's awesome, but it was also 25 years ago. Still promote that of course, since it shows a great history of the bar, and with the city, but maybe it’s time to strive for the best bar in San Diego 2011 now!

Anyhow, this is already sounding way too harsh, and I don't want to bash the place really, as the beers I had were great, I was just expecting" A" (meaning outstanding or world class) or better from other reviews, and it was just decent.

Retsinis, Apr 05, 2011
Photo of Shaggy9356
4.4/5  rDev +5%

Day One of westcoast beer excursion and we found ourselves at Downtown Johnny Browns. Not the easiest place to find, but worth the walk from the Hard Rock. Went in midday on a Wednesday and we were the only ones in the place. Luckily we ran into Mitch, awesome bartender who let gave us some suggestions of places to check out. He also let us know about an upcoming RR night where pliny the younger would be on tap for the evening.

The beer and bottle list is not extensive but it is definitely above average. Decent food and a cool laid back feel makes this place a must stop if you're in San Diego. On top of that we ended up running into the owner of the place while at Lost Abbey.

Shaggy9356, Mar 06, 2011
Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego, CA
93 out of 100 based on 49 ratings.