Downtown Johnny Brown's
Taps: 16 / Bottles:
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 49 | Reviews: 42 | Display Reviews Only:
3.39/5 rDev -19.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
A small beer bar tucked away and hidden from view. This was pub two after stopping in at the Yard House. The primary problem with Johnny's is the temperature beer is served. You'd think by now these guys would know that bathing every bottle in ice and serving pints at sub zero temperatures is just wrong. I had to specifically tell the Brit (no less!) bar keep not to chill my glass. Yeah, they had Lost Abbey in a bottle but encapsulated in ice? What's wrong with this picture? I killed them on "quality" for that very reason. As to the beer selection, they did have a handful of bottles available some of which were good quality. Roughly 12 or so on tap most of which were also good quality. The atmosphere is relaxed and somewhat interesting. A somewhat above average place but given that this was the last beer bar I visited on this business trip, I can't help but think the availability of good pubs in San Diego is somewhat dissapointing. This place is worth the stop, but it's just not a jaw dropper.
05-02-2008 14:39:42 | More by jim102864
3.43/5 rDev -18.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2 | $$
went in for their 22nd anniversary party and were told to take a seat at a table. after waiting no less than 15 - 20 minutes we finally had a waitress come up and take our order. after maybe another 10 - 15 minutes we finally got our first round. this is sort of what happened the entire night, PLUS she forgot to get one of my friends her beer. i don't normally like to bash a place, but this doesn't make me want to come back here at all.
the food? TERRIBLE! i think i might have had the WORST chicken and french fries i've ever had there. the fries tasted like the oil was a week old and the chicken tasted like it was suctioned out of middle school chicken patties. a bar doesn't need amazing food, but the basics are easy and they couldn't even do that.
the beer selection wasn't the best i've ever seen, but it was pretty damn good. they had a case of '07 ichabod, which was sublime. the white zin was pretty excellent as well! they had plenty of stuff on tap that is fairly difficult to get a hold of, and that definitely makes it worth stopping by every now and then.
will i come back here? yes, but only for the beer!
After putting up this review I was contacted by someone I believe was the owner telling me that he was going to send me a gift certificate and that he apologized for the bad service. That was almost right after their anniversary, which was months ago, and I still haven't gotten anything from him.
Knowing that I went in again against my better judgement to find out that half of their taps were broken. However, their service was actually good this time. Their bartender seemed knowledgeable about the product and very friendly. Had a few drinks with friends and really enjoyed myself.
I guess if I only come in for the drinks and just skip the food I'll have a pretty good time.
10-07-2009 02:58:32 | More by radshoesbro
3.66/5 rDev -12.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
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.
04-05-2011 00:11:07 | More by Retsinis
3.71/5 rDev -11.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Ok, I went in on a Wednesday night. Bad idea. I was literally the only person in the place that could hold probably 150-200+. In fact the bartender/manager was sending the other two people working home. It was 7:30 on a Wednesday, not late night. But in the middle of a City building and everybody had gone home, middle of the week. Place was D E A D, dead. Oh, and a little stagnant since it was a little hot/muggy that night and there wasn't much airflow in the place, and no A/C.
Quality was pretty good, but I didn't think it was that great for San Diego. Maybe I caught them at a bad time. I was on a hop bomb quest and there was only 1 to be found here. Some good craft beers, some mass produced beers. A pretty good quality
Service: Good, but again I was the ONLY one in the bar.
Selection: pretty good selection of draft and bottled beers
Value: good pricing.
11-12-2009 23:15:14 | More by Loki
3.76/5 rDev -10.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | $$
After one failed attempt at finding this place (though it was only two blocks from our hotel), we managed to fight our way past the dozen Occupy San Diego protesters (and the half dozen newspeople and camera operators and police officers) and into the restaurant.
I did not really dig the vibe. Too bright, run down but not in a cool gritty way, almost completely lacking in charm. As was the service. Tap list was very nice (The Abyss and The Stoic on tap!), and the pours of moderate ABV beers was very generous (22 oz. for the price of 16 oz.).
11-23-2011 19:24:07 | More by sholland119
3.86/5 rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
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
3.88/5 rDev -7.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
It's been almost half a year now since I was there, but if I remember correctly, it was a decent place. I had a pint of brother thelonious, and some other beers which I can't remember. Bartender was friendly, and had a strong interest in beer. Good prices, and I didn't eat anything there so I can't comment on the food. Overall, a nice experience on my last day in san diego.
a- dark, noisy, they did have a pool table, which was fun. and you could eat or drink outside, which is nice.
q - beer was fresh, not really much else to say since i didnt eat any of the food.
serv - Friendly, knowledgable employees.
sel - There was a big chalkboard of the various beers on tap. I can't remember what all they were.
f - didn't eat any of the food.
v - cost was decent. not super cheap, but not real expensive either, and understandable given the quality and the location.
12-06-2008 09:46:22 | More by freeeekyyy
3.91/5 rDev -6.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
Good after-work spot for downtowners. Cozy, English-pub feel. Older vinyl booths, and a funky smell from the beer and kitchen. Open patio to smoke. Nice selection of local and West-Coast micros. More quality than quantity. Had a few I had not seen anywhere else in San Diego. Bartender was knowledgeable on what was what. Didn't have any food this time, but heard good things. Decent prices, can't complain. I'd go here if I was downtown for work to meet someone, but there are better establishments.
12-16-2008 21:53:51 | More by magictrokini
Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego, CA
93 out of 100 based on 49 ratings.