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Downtown Johnny Brown's

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

53 Ratings
Ratings: 53
Reviews: 43
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 9.59%
Taps: 16
Bottles: --
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: 53 | Reviews: 43 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +19.9%
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.

Photo of Hoppy2Bhere
4.8/5  rDev +15.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I was in town for a conference and after one beer at the Yard House, I decided to try this place out, based on BA reviews. I was sooo happy I made the move. This is much more my style of bar--kicked back atmophere, better music, friendlier bartenders--and the beer was outstanding.

Not near as many taps as the Yardhouse, but they made up for it in quality and selection. I had Russian River IPA, Bear Republic APEX and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum and all were outstanding. They also had 4 different Green Flash beers and other local treats--probably 25 taps in all. Happy hour food prices are great as well. The bartender was incredibly knowledgeable about local beers and gave me several suggestions on where to find the best beer during my stay. I will DEFINITELY be back to Downtown Johnny Browns on my next visit.

Photo of srandycarter
4.74/5  rDev +13.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Went in to try Pliny the Younger. I drove 45 minutes to have a 10 oz pour. At $5 a glass, it was worth it - both on quality and quantity. Not only was it an exceptional beer, but I have found a cool new place to go.

Not crowded at all, early Friday night. Incredible tap. They had Alpine Duet, Ballast Point Victory, among others. Too many to even try at one shot!

Bottles, they were even selling the Consecration for $30 - at a bar, that is a pretty good price. I paid $27 at a liquor store...

Will be back. Again and again!

Photo of BeerSinner
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
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.

Photo of DirtyBird
4.72/5  rDev +13.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Lively atmosphere, lots of TV's, shuffleboard, sports memorabilia, etc. - but we are really here about the beer, right?

Excellent selection of local beers! Every time I come in here they have several interesting and difficult to find locals. From several different visits I've had Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Alpine Bad Boy Double IPA, Speedway Stout, Stone Ruination, Pizza Port Poor Man IPA, Alpine Duet, Green Flash West Coast IPA, AleSmith YuleSmith, Pizza Port Seaside Stout, Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA, etc. They also often have beers from Bear Republic, Avery, Moonlight, Ommegang and other top-notch craft brewers.

The food is very good and a good value; Happy Hour offers tasty discounted appetizers that will fill you up and allow you drink more beer.

The bartenders are all very knowledgable and seem genuinely excited to be serving some of the best beers San Diego has to offer.

While often San Diego's best beer bars (O'Brien's, Liar's Club, Hamilton's, SD Brewing Co., Churchill's, etc) seem to get the same local seasonal and specialty beers, I like that you can go into any one of those places and get different selections at different times. For example, if Liar's Club poured all of their Sculpin in two days, check out Johnny Brown's or Churchill's to find it on tap a week or 2 later; not everybody taps these beers at the same time.

Anyways, Johnny Brown's seems to be THE beer bar in the downtown area. Skip Yardhouse, come here.

Photo of yemenmocha
4.71/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Tough to find this place that is located on the west side of a tall building at the address you'll find yourself if using GPS navigation. Small, cute and tucked aside that building - cool.

Extremely slow night and the lone server was pouring for my wife and I, as well as just one other patron. Nelson IPA was the tap of choice and it was amazing, and the bartender was gracious to "buy" us a beer as well as chat about BA and the local bar scene. We didn't make it to Small Bar later that night where he was going to enjoy a few pints, but it was a good recommendation that we enjoyed on a later day.

Good rotating list of taps and bottle selection. This is a great place for a QUIET pint on a Sunday evening.

Photo of aevarela
4.58/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I visited at lunch the day after their big anniversary party the last reviewer attended. With regards to his complaints: In general, I go to such beer events to drink good beer, not for the dining experience. Next time, eat somewhere else first, then show up ready to drink at the bar.
The selection was ridiculously good with about 20 taps. Many exotic, belgian style and big beers from the anniversary fest remained.
This is a laid back, casual place that offers a nice downtown alternative to the Shipyard.
My chicken chile sandwhich was excellent and the burgers that went past me looked great too.
Adam at the bar (SD brewer's guild member) was the perfect guide for the memorable, though all too brief tasting. I'll always remember my first Pure Hoppiness experience.

Photo of redbird
4.55/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 5

We had a really fun time here. The place has a lot of room and a nice sized patio, but there were hardly any people there on a Friday night, so after we stopped into max capacity Hamilton's on Saturday night, we left to come back here knowing we'd have room to breathe. The main reason we came back was because the tap list was excellent. Around 15 taps with Abyss, Two Turtle Doves, Life & Limb, Yulesmith, etc. The second reason was because the bartenders were really fun to talk to. They were very eager to help us plan out our trip and talk about good beer. Next time we're back in town, we'll definitely be stopping by again.

As for finding it, be sure to look at google maps satellite view, the address alone gets you close but requires some searching.

Photo of Bwagner1122
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of dwagner003
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of MadHopster
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
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!

Photo of kcwhite86
4.44/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Heard this place had a pretty good selection of beers to try & I wasn't disappointed. It took us a few minutes to locate because it is hidden in the Civic Center court yard not directly on the street. There were very few people. The bartender was friendly and recommended a new Pizza Port IPA (while the wifes away) that we really enjoyed. They also list what they have on their website so you can check it out before you go. Overall pretty impressed. Plus a shuffle board table which is always fun!

Photo of Shaggy9356
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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.

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

First off this place is hard to find. Tucked away in between buildings and not on a street. That being said everything else was great. Not a ton of beers on tap but some great selections. Had an Abt 12, a bunch of locals and the staff was so cool I had to go back. They let us have all sorts of tasters and the bartender even gave us a beer on him. The manager with the scotish accent was ha-larious and super cool. I would make this my local hang out if I lived out there. Not too crowded but it looks like their main crowd is people who work in the buildings when they get off work in their offices. It would have been cooler if there were more locals but still a great place...

Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.4/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

After my first full day in San Diego I stopped in, intending to get dinner after a few beers, ended up just having a lot of beers and bullshitting with the locals. I really enjoyed this place.

The atmosphere reminded me a lot of the few smaller bars I drank at in Laramie, WY in my college days. Lots of beer decorations, tap handles, neons, signs, etc. Also a fair amount of license plates, including a sweet mid 80's Wyoming plate, not to digress, but that made my day as soon as I walked in. Awesome music selection from the bartenders, a nice mix of modern rock and indie tunes. Very welcoming atmosphere too, everybody there was damn friendly, kind of like your local bar, but a thousand plus miles away. The most appealing part, it wasn't packed to the damn gills like everywhere else I went in San Diego. Very cool, mellow, calm place to sit down and bullshit and have a few pints.

Awesome quality/selection as well, insane beer selection on tap that I didn't even bother with asking about the bottles. 12 taps, mostly locals, and all beers that I thought I'd never see on tap. The first night I was in they had fresh Sculpin, Green Flash's Citra Session beer, as well as some Stone and Deschutes offerings on tap. The second night they had Alpine Duet and Port Mongo on tap, talk about a hop head's dream. Man. I do believe they had some BMC stuff, but really that didn't bother me.

Service was awesome, the same bartender was working each night I was there, and he hooked me up with tons of samples prior to ordering anything. Often making recommendations, and also incredibly friendly and wanting to just bs. Also he wasn't mad at all when I asked for my Mongo to be served in a snifter...which he let me purchase (delirium tremens glass). Very cool guy, sadly after my second pour of Mongo I to this day can't remember the guy's name.

I ate the second time I went by, and the portion was HUGE, I bet they gave me a pound of fries with my burger. The burger was pretty good, but nothing impressive.

The value of this place is great compared to everything else in downtown San Diego. My tab at the end of the first night after having 6 pints was $28 with the tip, and the night I got food I spent $24. Incredibly cheap for the area.

If you're in San Diego, go by. This place rocks, and has awesome beer on tap, not to mention its a nice change of pace from being around a shit load of people all the time like other places in downtown San Diego.

Photo of tpd975
4.38/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

First stop on my trip to San Diego as it is right next to my hotel.

The place is a nice little local neighborhood bar. Quite a few TV's playing sports which I liked.

The bartender served me and the little one. Went a couple times at night and a my little one took to one of the female waitresses. They treated my daughter like a princess and she loved the place. Quick service day or night and quite a few taps all of which were quality brews. No crap on tap here! I went back day after day and was soo impressed. Seems as though a new yet wonderful San Diego beer had been added to the lineup everyday. Wow!

They have a pretty good bottle selection. They had Consecration, Brandy Angel's Share, and Dark Kriek among others at prices that seem to rival liquor stores.

I ordered a Hamburger which was big and tasty. It came with enough fries for three people. We had appetizers some other nights and they were typical good bar fare.

The prices were great and they have a great happy hour with half priced appetizers some are even free on Frida. They also had two beers on special each day at $3.50 a pint.

Overall a great local spot. One that I visited frequently during my stay in San Diego. Can't wait to return!

Photo of tjensen3618
4.38/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I came here after a SD beer tour of Stone, San Marcos grill, and Ballast Point. Myself and 2 friends decided that this was the place we wanted to go to in downtown San Diego after our beer tour had finished. My friend got out his iPhone and we started walking toward the blinking blue dot. Well, this place isn't exactly on the street so after walking around the block a few times we realized that it is in a middle courtyard surrounded by buildings, and not at all visible from the street.

When we finally found the place we were literally the only 3 people in a bar that looked like it could hold 150+ people, this is on a Saturday afternoon too, weird. The beer list was really nice,they had a bunch of tap only stuff and beers that are not easy to come by, I got an Eric's Ale, after that, a friend and I split a bottle of Supplication. The bartender's were nice, knowledgeable, and attentive

There was a shuffleboard table, which is always fun and the other bar games you'd expect to find. It was a fun time and I hope to come back here.

Photo of skipxtracer
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Great little bar in the atrium of the civic center. Really cool selection of local beers. They are doubling their taps very soon as well. I had a burger at the bar with really tasty fries and the bartender was incredibly friendly and gave me things to taste that I am really happy I tried. There is a pool table, shuffleboard, and a patio out front.

Photo of jzeilinger
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

Photo of gwguest
4.29/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Visiting San Diego specifically to hit some beer spots, I was lucky that DHB's was walking distance from the hotel. I hit DJB's around 2:30, and was one of only two or three folks in the entire bar.

While they don't have a tremendous number of taps, what they have is all great quality. Considering that the place didn't look like much, I had no expectations of the bartender. I was wrong wrong wrong. This bartender was one of the most knowledgeable I've met to date. He had a great, and accurate, knowledge of the selections on tap. I paid for a couple of pints, but I got to sample pretty much everything for free without asking. He suggested my first pint which I loved. From there he was pulling out their other varieties based on what he thought I'd like next.

I'd go back, and if you're in Downtown, it's a great place to go for a relaxed drink from a great list (which I assume rotates frequently) with no bad options.

Photo of armock
4.28/5  rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Atmosphere - because this place is kinda hidden it really is a hole in the wall bar. Overall its a pretty decent sized place with seating outside and tables inside. Theres a few tvs around the place showing sports but they aren't in the way.

Quality/Selection - While there aren't that many taps here what they do have on tap is some quality stuff. On my last visit four of their like twelve taps were limited release beers. So pretty much theres always something on that you'll want to try.

Service - All of the bartenders and waitresses that have served me here have all been super cool and nice. They know what they are talking about here if you ask them something and are always quick.

Food - I've only eaten appetizers during my visits so far but they haven't disappointed me yet.

Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of glid02
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Stopped in for some pool and shuffleboard during a recent trip to SD. The place is kind of hard to find, it's actually on the far corner of a square and there's no street entrance (at least that I saw).

Atmosphere is interesting. It's close to being a dive but it retains some semblance of class. You have to order your food at the counter, where there's a large chalkboard listing all the beers on-tap. A few TV's dot the dining room along with a shuffleboard table and a pool table in the back. Outside are about 6-10 tables.

Quality is good. The pint glasses in which the beers were served weren't beer-specific but they were all served at the proper temperature and with a good amount of head.

Service is very good. We received our food shortly after ordering and the bartenders/servers are more than happy to answer questions about beer.

Selection is very good. I remember about 12 different and solid taps on the board, almost all from CA breweries. Breweries included Alpine, the Bruery, Ballast Point, Russian River, and Marin County. Be sure to ask about any special beers not on the list as Temptation wasn't listed when I was there.

Food is solid if not great.

Value is very good. I had quite a few drinks with some friends there along with lunch and was surprised at how cheap my bill came out to be.

Overall I think this was my favorite place I went while in SD due to the laid-back atmosphere and the bar games available. The tap list certainly didn't hurt either. Worth a stop if you're in downtown SD.

Photo of Sparky44
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

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Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego, CA
93 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.