Main Tap Tavern
Taps: 25 / Bottles: 34
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 17 | Reviews: 16 | Show All Ratings:
3.98/5 rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75 | $$
The Tap has a distinct "locals" feel to it, good neighborhood vibe. That said, it's in the heart of the Chaldean community in El Cajon, just a few blocks from (the former) El Cajon Brewing Co.
Pool table, window seating, nice long bar, outside patio, multiple TVs, juke box, everything you need. Food is not outstanding, so no "4" but hey it's bar food and it's good.
They have live music on weekends, sometimes, but I'm not a local and haven't seen any.
I usually go on Wednesdays, meet friends, have dinner and see what they have on cask. Their selection is usually very good. Cask taps at 3Pm for $3 and goes up a dollar each hour until $6. They have maybe 20 taps with a nice selection of local craft. Also a fairly extensive bottle list. Mike the bartender is a great guy, who remembers your name and appears when you need him.
Last night I had a Freshly Squeezed, Alaskan Amber and a Belching Beaver Ol'Dirty on cask, dinner was the special, Irish Ruben w/fries for $6. Nice value I think. And ask about their "Passport" Club.
07-11-2013 18:26:43 | More by danwho
2.83/5 rDev -32.6%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 1 | $$
Visited this place for a 4th time this past weekend with my tightest childhood friend who is from the area - I grew up in East County but split for Ocean Beach when I was 17 (now 36 years old) and haven't looked back ever since. A nice 20 minute skate down Main Street from my buddies pad - it's always a fun drunken cruise dodging hookers and homeless without so much as a second glance from "America's Finest" as they can't quite seem to make out what two grown men are doing tearing down Main St. at all hours of the night, but a blast none the less!
So, the atmosphere is interesting - usually pretty dead, quiet, and lifeless until the last couple hours of business... and only on weekends - the week nights are dead from open to close. Pretty much a local East County scene, which I can appreciate but most probably wouldn't agree - the Mexican bar across the street rages with tons of people rolling in and out with live Tejano and Reggaeton music driving the vibe - looks like a killer spot, but we're never willing to shell out the $15. - $20. cover charge at the door. Regardless, it puts the Main Tap to shame on sheer vibe and raging liveliness. I wish I were having as much fun as the peeps across the street when I visit Main Tap!
What is the deal with taking the time to write in Bud Light - "Macro Light Lager" on the chalk board - are you kidding me??? Who does that...oh yea, an El Cajon bar. I could list a handful of other cheese ball big name breweries that take up the chalk board, but i'm not here to slam beer companies...maybe just Main Tap, for not only serving them on tap, but claiming them on their beer board. Out of the 25 taps, 15 are worth listing, which I guess isn't terrible...maybe just a bit misleading when claiming 25 taps of craft beer.
Service isn't terrible, but when rattling off orders to the bartender from their bottle list, he rarely knew if they actually had that particular selection and had to check the refer to confirm and more often than not stated that - we don't have that particular brew but offer this one from the same label - namely Alpine Brew - no Nelson though it was listed on their bottle offerings...they did have Pure Hoppiness, so i'm not hating too much. There were many other similar inconsistencies though. Maybe wanting to claim a bit more than what they truly had (???).
Food was absolute garbage and we were actually hassled for bringing in some tacos from a bomb little Mexi stand across the street - we finished up our grub in the alley and headed back in where we had already dropped a $100. on beer between our group of 4. Got hassled by our ladies for disrupting the vibe for giving the bouncer shit, so we ordered cheese fries and some other greasy mess - old frie grease left all the food soggy and tasting nasty. Would never order food from there again - the Mexi shop across the street is half the price and damn tasty!
At the end of the day, this is the best...well, really only beer bar in El Cajon, and though I rightfully slam it for its short comings and Bud Light on their beer board, there really is nothing like it in the neighborhood. And i'll be back again soon - no doubt, but put this up against what the rest of the county of San diego has to offer...and this one doesn't even come close - nothing "exceptional" about this bar to be quite honest.
Oh...and the juke box by the way - WTF!? $2.00 per track and the songs are censored - unreal! Was trying to get the vibe going with some Ween and Hank III - the "bad language" was censored and $20.00 got eatin up with just a handful of tracks - just lame!
01-30-2012 07:00:25 | More by DeanMoriarty
3.78/5 rDev -10%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
Now we head into the aftermath of Alpine's Exponential Hoppiness release. It's now 2:30 and I'm getting hungry. A sandwich sounds good, but it must have good beer pouring. Main Tap Tavern, this is where you come in.
Contrasting the bright sunnny afternoon was this dark tavern with a few pool tables and an outdoor patio. It was me and one other guy at the bar, which perhaps explains why this place doesn't open until 3 on most days. But because it was a Friday, they opened earlier in the day, which benefitted me.
24 different beers pouring from the taps, and an additional 40 coming out fo the bottle. I spotted two casks near me, but they didn't look to be in opeeration. With the way the tap menu was listed and the way those tap handles were designed, I have a feeling the owner also has a stake in Churchill's Pub in San Marcos. In general, local beers from the taps, including Ballast Point, Coronado, Mission, Oceanside Ale Works, plus a mix-up from Bacchus and Anchor. In the bottle comes Rogue, Alpine, Ommmegang, Oskar Blues, Steigl, and La Trappe.
No qualms about my bacon grilled cheese, and the fresh cut fries were a great touch and pace changer from the standard frozen steak fries at places like this. Not much service at this hour, but then again not much service was needed.
A reasonable watering hole in El Cajon.
01-28-2012 17:37:27 | More by DoubleJ
3.9/5 rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$
I'd like to amend my review based on the handful of encounters I have had since writing the original. Standout complaints as follows,
Food takes absolutely FOREVER to be brought out, a generous half dozen orders were brought out before mine. When I got the food, it was surely good, but nothing to rave over. Almost impossible to track down condiments. I ordered a beer with my meal, but 30 minutes went by and never received said beer. Paid bill and left. Next few times I came, it seemed like I was being avoided by the bar staff in terms of service and eye contact. They offer a VIP list-game, where after 100 different beers you get your name on the wall, with cool free stuff along the way. Needless to say, they lost my list each time I went back. Bummer. Anyways, it seems like MT, as a beer bar, is headed a tad down stream. I don't fancy.
Went to Main Tap with a couple regulars with high hopes. Situated in a very quaint part of El Cajon, the atmosphere surrounding MT is very warming and comfortable. Entering into MT I was amazed by not only the selection of beers on tap, but the space itself. MT is not a close quartered pub, which I enjoyed. It brought a good sense of change to the normal small pubs where setting/conversation can be a task. The workers were quite personable and knowledgeable. They have pool tables, and from my experience, they don't foster the pool-shark locals who just hang out there solely to play and be obnoxious, which is awesome. I enjoyed my visit and am confident saying I will find myself back again.
01-27-2012 17:15:33 | More by SDDanC
3.78/5 rDev -10%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$$
I went to see my friends band play and have been meaning to check this place out for awhile so it was a good oppriunity. Also with no cover it was a win win.
The tap selection was pretty good. Nothing super rare but a lot of very solid choices. Great for East County. The food was gerneric bar food but the little I tried from friends plates was pretty good.
Now for the kicker. I could be wrong but I am almost positive the tap line for the Sculpin I got was dirty. I drink this beer quite often and have had it at many places around town so I know how it's supposed to taste.
I wouldnt go out fo my way to go back but I wouldnt be bummed if I did either. The place was very clean and the staff was VERY quick and helpful.
06-19-2011 23:27:28 | More by Eriktheipaman
4.18/5 rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
This place is a gem for east county. They had a solid line up of draft and bottle and also one on cask (hop head red). The service was friendly and personable.
The food was awsome, they have amazing fries and the happy hour prices are great.
You have to remember even though you are in a respectable beer establishment, it is still El Cajon. A lady came in looking a little less then cosher, ordered a "bottle of draft" took it to the restroom and waited until she was out of the restroom to finish adjusting her undergarments.
I will defenitly be going back quite a bit, defenitly the best beer bar in east county.
08-27-2010 15:25:29 | More by BdubleEdubleRUN
4.44/5 rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
The first time I came in here was for a bachelor party on a weekend night and they had a band. The place was less than half full and I felt old because I couldn't handle the loud music. It was LOUD. My first impression was of a place with good beer at very reasonable prices in an area I don't normally go, but with a less than stellar idea of having a band in a place the size of a 2 bedroom apartment. I have been back a few times since then and when it's not crowded or loud, it's pretty awesome. Good beer selection at the best prices in town, relaxed yet attentive service and a mellow vibe.
07-24-2010 02:56:36 | More by gildobeer
4.5/5 rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $
The Main Tap tavern is a great bar because it's owner's know and love beer. I haven't talked to Zack much but Barbara the bar manager definitely lovs beer.
The staff was knowledgeable and friendly. They knew what they were serving which is always impressive. Haven't had a tavern burger yet but I've had the fries and they're delicious.
They have a great tap list. And GREAT prices, including $3 special on some of their beers. Everytime I go in there's a few new things I haven't tried. I really like their schwag nights.
The place looks great as well and the glass tap handles give it a little extra charm.
Oh yeah the Passport. I'm still working on my first but I think it's pretty cool. Can't wait to get my name on the wall and my shirt and hat.
04-12-2010 08:58:25 | More by ZX6Chris
4.83/5 rDev +15%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
What can I say that hasn't already been said about this bar. I love this place. The beer selection is the best I've seen in any bar in El Cajon. They always have a great selection of local breweries as well as some imports. With 28 beers on tap and 30 more in in bottles how can yo go wrong.
I love their Wednesday nights of special brews with little swag to go with it. I loved Caitlin and she was the best bartender there before she left. The new girl is nowhere near as good as her. Daniele also rock! She is very beer knowledgeable especially when it comes to Alpine Brewing. The afternoon
guy Bob is also pretty awesome and he has taken care of
me plenty of times. He has offered some great insight to
beers I should try. I haven't really gotten to talk to
Zach but He is the reason the beers in there are in there. Keep it up man. The older lady is Very nice as well.
The food is up there on my favorite bar food. They offer a great selection that may be a little pricey but is worth it. If you have a passport then you may just be able to
try their food on the house. The passport is the beat thing ever invented, I am addicted to filling that ad boy up. When you try 50 different beers they give you a hat, t-shirt and they put your name up on the plaque in the bar. I'm on to my second one and loving it.
This place excels at everything and they are always changing their selection. I have never become a regular to any bar in my life, but this one is my first. The beer is great. The service is awesome (I miss Caitlin) and the food is solid. I love everything about this place. You can't go wrong with the Main Tap
03-22-2010 02:33:17 | More by badboyrsl84
4.28/5 rDev +1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Finally went in an checked out Zack Summers The Main Tap. From my Main Tap newsletter I used the link to check the tap list online before I got there:
Quite a selection. Big hoppy IPAs, some barrel aged and sour offers. They are served in pint glasses or groovy snifters, depending on the style of beer. The best selection of tap beers in East San Diego County, bar none.
We started our beer passports, which help you keep track of what you have had in previous sessions, as well as offering discounts after a certain limit is achieved.
I had the Chicken Caesar Salad which was just mediocre. I should have gone for the Fish and Chips that looked FANTASTIC. My buddy ordered them and confirmed they were great.
Zack came out and visited with us for awhile. A really nice guy and extremely knowledgeable about beer, and the beer culture and key players in San Diego.
The place offers live bands and karaoke on the weekends and has a few pool tables as well.
Thanks Zack, we will be back!
05-01-2009 16:00:30 | More by srandycarter
Main Tap Tavern in El Cajon, CA
92 out of 100 based on 17 ratings.