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Toronado

Not Rated.
ToronadoToronado
BA SCORE
98
world-class

171 Ratings
Ratings: 171
Reviews: 109
rAvg: 4.46
pDev: 8.97%
Taps: 58
Bottles: 250
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

4026 30th St
San Diego, California, 92104-2602
United States
phone: (619) 282-0456

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @toronadosd

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: kleffman on 06-29-2008)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 171 | Reviews: 109 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Tfergus
2.25/5  rDev -49.6%

Tfergus, Jul 02, 2014
Photo of DOCRW
3/5  rDev -32.7%

DOCRW, Jan 23, 2014
Photo of yayarea
3/5  rDev -32.7%

What a disappointment. This place is mediocre in every aspect. The service is borderline terrible and the bartenders don't know much about beer. In terms of beer selection, it's good but nothing special. They carry several of the better breweries but rarely anything other than the flagship beers that you can find at other bars and stores. Also, charging a dollar for a sample of a beer is ludicrous, especially when the bartender can't tell me much about the beer other than "it's good". Well I would certainly hope it's good, otherwise it has no business being on tap. This has not been a one time affair either. I have tried Toronado SD on three separate occasions and each one has been a letdown.

yayarea, Oct 20, 2011
Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.1/5  rDev -30.5%

I stopped in here for dinner as my last destination before leaving San Diego. Finding the place was easy and so was getting a parking space. About six storefronts away, we could hear a roar of people and found it to be coming from Toronado.

The place was far from packed, the music was not loud, but we could not communicate in anything less than a yell. I found this to be ridiculous. Why was it so loud? Bad acoustics? The building itself was simple, yet sharp, but with the commotion, it was hard to enjoy myself.

The tap list was amazing. This is clearly the place to be if you want a sampling of San Diego brews. There was so much to choose from and so much that I had not heard of, it was a bit overwhelming. I had to go with some Blind Pig and Alpine's Red.

The Food was tasty, but disappointing. We came here to get some grub to fill up for the 5 hour plane ride back to Philly and were served petite portions of decent food. I got the pulled pork, which was pretty darn good, but there was only a thin smear of it across my bun. There was literally twice as much bun as pork, so I felt I paid $12 for a BBQ tasting bun. On top of that, it came with a few tablespoons of baked beans which I didn't really care for. There seemed to be a vinegar and spicy sweetness that really didn't get along. Also, the lack of fries (again, considering $12 for an appetizer sandwich) was disappointing. The lady got the beef satay and it came out cold. Mmm. Cold beef. I don't know if this was customary here, but its the first time we've gotten that dish cold. The cucumber salad that came with it was awesome though. To seal the deal, we got creme brule for desert and it came with a light dusting of cheddar cheese. Not kidding. On top of that, we were given forks to eat it. Wow. The portion sizes and poor quality control drop my score here quite a bit.

I would like to say a bit about service here, but there really isn't any. It's a do-it-yourself place where everything is ordered at the bar. We sat there for quite a while before realizing this, also with the last customers' old plates of food on our table. So, I had to go order beer and food and then carry a little card with our number on it back to the table with two drinks in hand. Had we had another person, this would have been a two trip job. Food came out quickly, but we still had to go up to the bar and order more beer and desert. This time, we got flat out ignored for about 10 minutes. The bartender had tunnel vision and didn't even look at the end of the bar for the longest time. We enlisted the help of a few locals to get the bar tenders attention and we waved our arms and shouted a bit just to get him to turn his head and realize that someone needed his help in order to execute the strange serving model set up here. So, for service, I really have to say, "what service?"

Not a bad place if you're sitting at the bar and only ordering beer. I presume that would be an awesome experience. But the conversation stopping noise, the lack of service, pretentious portions and randomized quality of food was a bit frustrating. I won't return, unless I'm just there for a beer at the bar.

DarkerTheBetter, May 18, 2009
Photo of mactrail
3.2/5  rDev -28.3%

They do have plenty of beers, and it's not totally obnoxious. Not quite the toilet of the SF location, but they do seem to be working to recreate that special smell of twice-fermented spilled beer, fungus in the walls, and a breeze off porta-potties.

Service? They really don't care if you live. And if you die, do it out on the sidewalk. Uncomfortable chairs. Acoustics designed to blare every scrape and muddled bass note. Ugly little patio out back between the narrow buildings.

Lots of beers, though their board is quite uninformative with just a brewery and a beer name. Uh, Bear Republic Tartare-- what's that? Oh, a Berlinerweisse. Not helpful if you want to know anything about beers you've never heard of. Or how strong they are. Prices are a little higher than some places but not outrageous. Lots of regional beers. Many common ones also available in bottles.

Best feature is the case of dozens of mostly antique Belgian and German beer glasses. I still don't know why having a long beer list should imply that patrons want it to be noisy, uncomfortable, and hipper than thou. I occasionally stop by on an early weeknight to see if there is anything interesting on tap, but one beer and I'm gone.

mactrail, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of jwswigs
3.33/5  rDev -25.3%

I don't get the hype about this place. There are far better spots north in Orange County. I will say it has a cool neighborhood bar vibe with (real) rock n roll playing on the juke box and the food we had was quite good, especially the pork belly skewers, but as far as beer is concerned, and frankly, everything takes a back seat for me, this place is nothing special.
First, the beer menu is above the bar, not behind it, invisible to those sitting at the bar. Most beer-friendly joints I go to have a current tap list on a piece of paper for you to view, usually with a sentence or two about each beer. Looking at their menu board, I couldn't even tell what style half the beers were. As far as the selection was concerned it appeared to be almost all local breweries without much out of the ordinary. Of course with no descriptions what do I know. They do have a bunch of interesting stuff in bottles in the fridge behind the bar, but they don't have those on a list. On a side note, there was no wine for my wife, but it is a beer bar, I guess.
I couldn't find the tap list on their website and beermenus and taphunter hadn't been updated in months or years. Therefore I couldn't do any "homework" on what to try. I did recognize one on the menu I hadn't had and wanted to try, but they were out of that one. As service leaves a little to be desired, even in the afternoon, I didn't want to let the bartender get away, so I asked for a recommendation on a less bitter ipa on the more tropical side. (Did I mention they don't have flights?) I ended up with a piney, bitter, resinous one.

jwswigs, Apr 06, 2014
Photo of claspada
3.43/5  rDev -23.1%

Smallish bar with some tables behind. Coolers littered with bottles behind the bar. Unfortunately the bartender said the list they had was unusable and outdated so I would have to browse visually which was hard considering the bar was full, so that was a knock. Both bartenders actually had a stick up their rears which was a pain.

The prices were awesome because there was a happy hour special for all local beers. There were about 20 on tap I believe. Ambiance was fairly poor though. People crowding the bar behind you with not enough service to help everyone.

This is the second bar during my trip with a huge reputation that totally let me down. (Falling Rock in Denver being the other). It seems they think because they are well known that service and standards can falter.

I also had a sandwich which was forgettable.

claspada, Jun 19, 2013
Photo of tastyales
3.73/5  rDev -16.4%

Well i had pretty high expectations of this place. It is def one of the better beer bars in SD. But it lacks in customer service the bartenders have some attitude. And judging on the craft presence in SD i would think they would try to be a little more inviting. Over all beer selection kick ass Taps and Bottles they will have something you are looking for. Also have some Vegan Food that is a plus. World class bar would recommend but there are other bars in SD with or have better beer selection and less attitude. Maybe i caught the staff on a bad day but the place wasn't really busy.

tastyales, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of DeanMoriarty
3.9/5  rDev -12.6%

Ok, i'll admit it, this isn't anything like the original Toronado on Haight in SF (which is probably the greatest bar in the world), so I won't even try and compare the two. I was just happy to get one somewhat near my house, because I know the owner has the best connections to the finest brewers all around the world, so I'm not trying to split hairs here.

The atmosphere is a little generic and since the beer craze has hit SD, you get a ton of wine snobs sniffing and swirling their beers, and this place seems to be a mecca for this type of folk. On the other side of the coin though, the room is big and airy, and there always seems to be a spot to post up and have some drinks. The room is a bit bright at times, but what can ya do (???). There's also a patio out back with picnic tables so if you like to have a beer and a smoke, this is a good option instead of huddling out front of the bar like a criminal.

Service is so so depending on who's bartending - there's a couple "cool guys" working the bar in the afternoons from time to time that like to take the uninterested European approach to bar service, but the evening staff seem to realize they're working for tips and act as so.

The selection (and this is the only comparison i'll make to their SF location) is one of the best in town, no doubt, but they seem to get less of the super rare one-offs that you see pop up every week up North. Amazing tap selection of West Coast and Belgian ales and some rare bottled beers that line the back walls of the bar in coolers.

The food is really good - the mac and cheese is off the hook and their potato pancake plate with sausage is a perfect pairing for a good IPA.

I'll agree with most of the comparisons and criticisms out there in regards to the SD location vs. the SF location, but it's like comparing apples and oranges. I'm just stoked to have this quality and selection within 20 minutes of my house.

DeanMoriarty, Dec 08, 2010
Photo of MiScusi
3.96/5  rDev -11.2%

Stopped in here and came away fairly unimpressed, especially compared to the SF location. Maybe because it was a very cold and drizzly day, but it was about half full, and lacking quite a bit in atmosphere. Still, there were people sitting around enjoying some beers, but it was quiet. The beers are good, of course, and they have a pretty good selection. The service was ok, only 1 bartender was there and she recognized me fairly fastly, but when I ordered a beer that was out, she left and took her a while to come back to get my order, even though I would have been ready a long time ago to pick something else.

I just can't ever see picking this place over O'Brien's which is a few miles up the road. That place has so much more character and better atmosphere that the Toronado just seems like an empty soul. I'll stop in again sometime just to see if I was in on a lame day.

MiScusi, Dec 21, 2008
Photo of Ambiorix
3.98/5  rDev -10.8%

Kind of sterile in the atmosphere aspect. Too bright, too open. Not very cozy. I really preferred the feel of Small Bar, but that's just me.

Great overall quality. Really amazing tap and bottle selection. The night I went they had a Port Brewing special going on with lots of great stuff.

Service was decent if somewhat impersonal. When I asked an opinion between two Imperial Stouts, the bartender admitted not trying one and poured us each a nice sized sample of the one he hadn't had.

Food was really tasty and the prices were okay.

Reasonably priced.

Ambiorix, Jan 12, 2011
Photo of EyePeeAyBryan
3.98/5  rDev -10.8%

Went for the 1st time on a Satuday night before the crowd hit. Probably a good idea to head over to this place by 8 or 9 if you want a seat on the weekend. Very happy with the bottle selection but the draft selection just wasn't what I was hoping for. With the list being every changing, I'm guessing I just hit this on what could probably just have been a time with not too many "exciting" brews.

Food was okay. We had a chicken sandwich and the chicken was over-cooked and a bit dry but it was still pretty tasty overall. Service wasn't anything to write home about either. Had two girls helping us, one was great and knowledgable and talked a lot about some brew but the other almost knew nothing. When working at a place like this, at least take some time to learn about beer and what is available at your store.

As a beer fan, this was a great place to visit and a damn shame they can't sell bottles to-go. I would have loved to have taken some back home that I couldn't find in the area. Can't believe that out of all the times visiting SD, I somehow have skipped this place.

Can't wait to go back! If you're looking for a place to grab beers in SD, this definitely hits in the top 5.

EyePeeAyBryan, Sep 10, 2013
Photo of crossovert
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Stopped here on my final night in SD with some friends.

It wasn't too crowded on a Sunday night. The drafts were nice, a good range of stuff, but they seemed to focus on a lot of beers by a handful of breweries. The bottle selection was extensive with plenty of rare stuff. But the problem is those bottles are so expensive that it isn't even worth it. The draft offerings were much more reasonable priced.

The service was pretty good. Overall not a bad stop if you are in SD but a bit overrated IMO.

crossovert, Jul 30, 2012
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -10.3%

t0rin0, Oct 29, 2013
Photo of GoodLivin
4/5  rDev -10.3%

GoodLivin, Oct 22, 2014
Photo of PhxHorn
4.03/5  rDev -9.6%

This place is in a borderline neighborhood, with no parking lot nearby. We ended up parking on the curb a black away and walking by a lot of folks loitering on the sidewalk. Not exactly comfortable, but we made it. 50 beers on tap, all of them looked great, but a fairly limited food menu, scribbled on a dry erase board that was propped up at the far end of the place.

My wife's ruben was fine, and my sausage sandwich was a little overcooked, but not by much. I was comparing it to the superb sausage I'd had at Stone the day before, which would have been very hard to beat.

Had a Wipeout IPA and a Pliny the Elder. Each was good, bt surprisingly not great. I don't know why, but the flavors were a bit weak. At any rate, it was still a first-rate beer place, and I'd recommend it to anyone in the area. It's about a mile east of Balboa Park.

PhxHorn, Jul 26, 2008
Photo of corby112
4.08/5  rDev -8.5%

Stopped by here during a recent trip to San Diego. I first tried to go on a Friday night but it was so packed I didn't even go in. I would highly recommended going at night only Sunday thru Thursday or during the afternoon.

This place is basically a narrow rectangular room with a long bar on the right with tables lining the left wall. Not nearly enough seating during the busier times. Even late on Sunday night most of the tables were occupied. The bar had plenty of space available though.

The place is very clean with beer signs everywhere and rare bottles behind the bar. There are also two coolers on each side of the bottle containing a theoretically nice selection. Although this place was more spacious and cleaner than the SF location I prefer the grimy vibe of the original location. Also, the juke box at the SF location is pretty awesome, elevating the vibe.

Service was pretty good here. I didn't go in when it was crazy busy so I can't comment on that but it was busy enough on a Sunday night and the one bartender held it down, taking care of everyone quickly. She was also very knowledgeable and patient putting up with all of my questions about unfamiliar locals. None of the beers on draft have descriptions but she knew about all of them.

Toronado has a great reputation for having an amazing selection but to be honest, I've been kind of disappointed in both locations. They did have 50 taps with lots of one offs, cool locals and BA stuff but the bottle list was pretty weak. Not too many rarities and the ones that were available were very expensive. Lower tier rare beers like the eclipse variations were close to $50! Also, 30+ of the beers on draft were from Pizza Port. They had an event on NYE with over 60 of their beers on and these were the left overs. Fortunately, most of them were excellent and pretty rare. The rest of the list was pretty impressive.

Overall, this place was fun but didn't live up to expectations. Not as cool as the other location but the service is much better. The draft selection is quite nice but the bottle list left a lot to be desired. Maybe I'm just a jaded Philly guy. If you are from out of town, be careful when you go because the place can get crazy crowded.

corby112, Jan 17, 2012
Photo of kleffman
4.1/5  rDev -8.1%

Checked out the Toronado San Diego location on a Saturday around 1PM and it was mostly empty with the exception of some of the same guys I always see at O'Briens (figures). Decent location, nice interior that they're still working on and a great tap list. 50 taps and maybe 100 bottles. Not sure if they have a beer engine for casks but I'm sure they eventually will. Supposedly are serving sausages like the place next door to the SF location but I didn't have one. Proper glassware for everything. It was extremely loud in there, nothing on the walls yet to dampen the sound. Hopefully that'll get figured out eventually. Yet another great destination in San Diego, the city of Awesome Beer.

kleffman, Jun 30, 2008
Photo of ocmpoma
4.15/5  rDev -7%

visited on 2 Mar 10:

Stopped by this afternoon to kill some time with a brew. 2pm on a Tuesday, and there were a handful of people in the bar besides me. It seemed a bit spartan, but I'm not sure if they had the furniture pushed aside because of the time of day. Pretty standard set-up: bar on the right as you walk in, seating off to the left. There was only one TV, which is nice, and there is a good-sized bier garten out back with some picnic tables. Lots of beer signage on the walls.

Taps are listed above the bar, and there are plenty of them. Unfortunately for me, there wasn't anything on cask. Specials are on additional chalkboards, and the bottle list, which is very extensive, is available. They had lots to choose from, plenty of Belgians in bottles, lots of variety on the taps, from the Bruery to Franziskaner to Guinness. Both Plinys (Plinies?) were available on tap. That's right, you can have the Elder and Younger go head-to-head.

I ordered a tripel, but the bartender informed me that it wasn't panning out at the tapline and that she could get me a bottle of it. I decided for a selection from the Bruery they had on tap, instead. The service was great, especially since the sole bartender had to deal with a... shall I say, grumpy... elderly gent who was hard of hearing and wanted "a lager" or something "not dark" and needed his onions for the sandwich chopped up. She definitely handled him with patience and class.

Overall, a good experience -- obviously, as it's the Toronado, it's a beer-focused place. Not really my style, but far and away better than many other places I've been.

ocmpoma, Mar 03, 2010
Photo of mrkun
4.16/5  rDev -6.7%

This a nice place with a long bar, wood tables with chairs on one side and wooden benches on the other side and there's a back patio with heaters. They have loud music playing that can somewhat drown out conversation with your friends. The bartenders here are way nicer than the ones in San Francisco. They had a pretty good selection of taps and a very nice selection of bottles. We had some '08 BCS but couldn't bring ourselves to dump $40 for a bottle of Cable Car. I didn't try the food, but it looked decent; don't know about the prices. The beer prices however were fair. Overall, this a fun place to come for a beer, and they have some rarer stuff that will be difficult to find elsewhere.

mrkun, Jun 17, 2011
Photo of jim102864
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%

Not the lusty maiden whose beer siren song beckons beer enthusiasts like the way its original San Francisco local does, but a respectable iteration of the original nonetheless. Located in a busy urban and somewhat scruffy area of San Diego, it's rather stark interior would take little to improve.  Brewana on the walls here and there, but nothing but hard surfaces make for a noisy factory-like atmosphere in this small space.  Still, we take pilgrimages such as this for the beer and the comradery of fellow enthusiasts.  In this respect, Toronado did not dissapoint.  A humorous and friendly young dude behind the bar. Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Blind Pig, Lost Abbey Damnation on tap.  Roughly 30 or so on tap along with two large coolers behind the bar chock full of brew.  Lots of Belgian, German and Cali brews.  A tad out of the way from the city, but worth the visit.  Parkings a challenge.

jim102864, Oct 25, 2008
Photo of Errto
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%

I visited the famous Toronado while in SD to see a friend. It was a Sunday and we got there early-ish, so there wasn't much of a crowd.

This was the first, how should I say this, "purist" beer bar that I went to. The appearance, though cool with lots of dark wood and vintage posters, is a bit austere and I didn't see any beverages besides beer available for sale nor any TVs, particularly noticeable music, or anything else to take away from the central focus. Appealing in a way, though ultimately I prefer beer bars that are a little more of a mixed bag. YMMV.

They had a small but fairly decent food menu including some nice specialty sausage that I liked. Draft list was large. I enjoyed RR Damnation and Pliny the Elder as well as NB La Folie, and my friend had a Celebrator, a Bernardus Prior 8 and we also split a bottle of Nøgne Ø's winter beer whose name escapes me. Extremely extensive bottle list including many sought-after rarities, but they ain't cheap.

Overall, a great place to visit for any beer pilgrim. And that's not to mention the spontaneous tasting we got invited to randomly!

Errto, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of bigbelcher
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%

Wow, totally different feel than the Toranado in San Francisco. Clean and well lit. Limited food menu but the sausage was good and reasonably priced. Beer selection was good with lots of IPA's and Lost Abbey/Port Brewing beers on tap. Service was good, bartenders were pretty knowledgable and unlike the one in San Francisco- they were friendly which scores big points in my book. Some may say that adds to the charm of the one up north but I don't like being treated like a dumb kid when I go in some place. Kudos on the friendly service,

bigbelcher, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of woodychandler
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%

An entry in center of two overlooking windows with the "L"-shaped dark wood bar to right with 7 coolers as the back bar, as well as a bank of 50 in the back/center corner. A fairly minimal space with standard tables and chairs against left wall with high tables and chairs center. Pressed tin signs on left wall. Lavs all of the way aft, left. Having been to its sister location in SF, the service here was MUCH better. Cuz Colby was well-recieved as we walked in and we encountered some other beer luminaries as we sat and had lunch. I was deeply impressed by the 30th Street area and its bars.

woodychandler, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of SDtastentune
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%

A - Great cherry oak style pub chairs and tables wrapped around the south side of the bar and front area, old style pub swing half tall style door that is pretty cool. Lots of stickers on the north front wall, good stuff. Beer list is hard to see from the bar, gotta get up and look up in front of the bar... kinda awkward. Back area is cool for the smoker crowd or for people needing "air". Bathroom is small, but clean'ish. Long hallways leading to bathroom and back area.

Q - Great for beer, tenders know there stuff and can answer the best questions, Nice people. Can get busy so be patient on a Friday, Saturday or Monday. Quality is hit or miss on food, don't get much so can't be a great reviewer.... but its hit or miss.. hit being great... and miss being a miss. Beers can range from best of the best IPA's to best of the best everything. Cask pours have been foamy and warm so watch out.

S - Service has always been great, fast for me, first in line gets exactly what they want or desire. Great beer knowledge, unknown to me beer pairing knowledge.

F - Food is hit or miss, will not get into detail, but I have had some "good food" and some "what is this food". I recommend they introduce pub fries and beer battered fries.... app's are kinda pricey and ???

V - Great deals, Monday night local beer night is the best, $3 local pints of Mongo etc., Imperial stouts still in snifter glasses though. Ok app menu but I still want pub fries! I also came though with a deal on Citybeat for Half off beer ($12.50 for $25 that was pretty cool). So yea it can be worth it.

SDtastentune, Aug 31, 2011
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Toronado in San Diego, CA
98 out of 100 based on 171 ratings.