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Ratings: 28 | Reviews: 20 | Display Reviews Only:
4.03/5 rDev -6.5%
This is literally a small bar in the University Heights area of San Diego. The exterior is aesthetically pleasing with it's black color and accents of red. It distinguishes itself from adjacent bars with it's sinister appearance. Looking up from the street seating, one will note a series of red, three dimensional elephant head designs that create a horizontal border. Once inside the bar, it gets cozy. The dim lighting combined with the black with red accents creates a soothing atmosphere. One that dovetails with the collective spirit of the staff and patrons and physical closeness of everyone present. The staff are friendly and accommodating. Even the doorman was pleasant. I had requested that one of the beers I was trying be served in an 11 oz. tulip because I wanted to try several without ruining tomorrow (an epic San Diego brewery tour) with a hangover. He honored my request even though it is sold only in pints. He also discounted the already cheap price of $4.50. All the beers are, at worst, reasonably priced. There was a pretty impressive variety of taps ranging from brews like Allagash to local offerings from Monkey Paw. Food was of average quality, reasonably priced, and served quickly. We enjoyed our time spent here.
11-02-2012 14:38:43 | More by DocJitsu
4.22/5 rDev -2.1%
This place was recommended by a bunch of local BAs so I decided to stop by during a recent trip to San Diego. This place is located in a really nice neighborhood on what seemed like a pretty busy street with other shops and restaurants.
As the name implies, this place is kind of small but they have a few tables outside with additional seating. Small L shaped bar with high tops and regular tables lining the perimeter. A slightly younger crowd that is slightly hipster but there is a really cool vibe here and they play very good music. We stopped in for a quick drink after dinner and ended up staying for a few hours.
We didn't order any food here but the service at the bar was pretty good. Both bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable and even the dude checking IDs out front was surprisingly pleasant.
The selection was good but not amazing. I was expecting to get a bunch of new ticks but I ignored most of those beers for uber fresh, local IPAs. Options included Sculpin, Speedway, AleSmith IPA, Iron Fist, Mission, Anderson Valley Mokeef Saison, SN Ruthless Rye, Telegraph and many more. Nothing too rare but a wide variety and lots of the classics. A really fun place to enjoy good beers with friends.
01-19-2012 02:10:33 | More by corby112
4.38/5 rDev +1.6%
This place is owned by the Hamilton's Tavern crew. We went to three of their places during our visit, of which three were totally awesome.
Small Bar is aptly named, a little dark even at mid day despite the opening to outdoor seating. There is a long L-shaped bar, a smallish area with high tops and tables and some outdoor seating. We opted for stools at the bar. Service was quick and personable.
The tap list was deep in excellent West Coast beers. The challenge was choosing the couple we would have before moving on. I could easily have spent the whole day, and part of the next.
Food was among the best we had in San Diego. Fried pickles (sliced, then battered and fried; usually they don't slice them around here), small tacos, chicken sliders, all delicious.
A great local bar, and a place I'd love to visit again.
11-18-2011 20:57:49 | More by sholland119
4.14/5 rDev -3.9%
"Smallish" bar in University heights, the room is about the same size as Monkey paw.
Easy on-street parking, a few tables out front, and you enter from a side door/hallway, past the demonic-looking elephant logo on the door.
The standard chaulkboard held what I counted to be about 40 taps, a bit hard to read unless directly in front of you. A mix of communal and bar-height tables, and of course some room at the bar. Nice bar staff at this place, at least two of them asked a couple of times what we would like or if we would like another. Just the basics, but hell it counts for a lot when other places treat you like a lepper.
A good mix on the taps, nothing mind-blowing on our visit though. Plenty of hop-forwards as expected in SoCal, with some stouts, porters, and Belgians mixed in.
Black and red decor, and there was a serious mix coming out of the jukebox. Quite loud fairly crowded.
This one would be a repeat, good peeps and a very good selection.
10-12-2011 00:31:23 | More by brewandbbq
New Brunswick (Canada)
4.45/5 rDev +3.2%
Dropped by (for what ended up to be 3 hours) on a Tuesday night around 7 pm...
A: Yep, it's small, but as the reviewer below noted, not TINY. Long bar, tables scatted along the side, and a small deck. The place was completely packed, but had a great vibe when I was there. Not douchey at all, everyone into great beers. Awesome jukebox.
Q + Selection: Lots of awesome taps; I had four in all, and they all tasted fantastic. Looks like they rotate very often (I can see why with a crowd like this).
Service: Pretty fine. Sat at the bar for two beers and then moved to a table. The first bartender passed us off to someone else, who ended up being friendly enough, if not overly chatty (they were very busy). One guy chewed out my brother for accidentally walking into the keg room.
Value: Seemed pretty good to me.
O: One of my favorite bars in SD, and easily one of the top ones in terms of atmosphere.
09-27-2011 21:44:53 | More by berley31
4.36/5 rDev +1.2%
Second stop on my recent trip to San Diego, this came as a recommendation from BAs on the forums.
Great atmosphere, Small Bar is indeed small, but it's not tiny. There are a few tables outside for sipping a beer while soaking up San Diego's dang near perfect weather, and seating for about 30 people inside. It's dark, with quirky decor, and a great jukebox. The only problem, they have only one bathroom.
Quality is very good, all the taps were full of excellent beers.
Service was good, I was quickly acknowledged and served.
Selection was impressive for such a small place, they had everything from locals to Belgians, strong beers to lighter lagers.
I didn't have any food, but someone sitting next to me did, and it looked wonderful.
Prices were fair, I had a pint of Sculpin for $5, about what I'd pay for a comparable beer at home.
Overall this is a fantastic place. If I had more time on this trip, I would have made a return visit, maybe 3.
08-09-2011 03:59:39 | More by flexabull
4.34/5 rDev +0.7%
Stopped in here for the first time on Friday night with a few friends. According to my roommate, Small Bar and Hamilton's are under the same ownership.
Small Bar is my kind of joint. Though crowded, our group was easily able to carry on conversations; no blaring music or obnoxious drunks. High ceilings and open windows kept the indoor temperature relatively cool. Beer and liquor memorabilia hung from the walls. The bartenders were very attentive and polite. And, oh yeah, the beer selection was phenomenal!
About that beer selection: expect to wide variety of beer styles, with a strong focus on hoppy ales and sours (perfect for a warm, San Diego night). On draft, I saw several Flanders red ales, a few wild ales (including Consecration), a Berlinner Weisse, and a host of local IPAs, imperial IPAs, etc. I stared at the list for quite awhile, eventually settling on a Hop Rod Rye. While I didn't examine the bottle list, there was really no need to; the tap list had everything I could possibly want.
As a new San Diego resident (I've only been here for a week at this point), I know I'll be cruising back to Small Bar many times in the future. This bar probably suits younger people (under thirty) more than older, but if you've never been, make sure to give Small Bar a try!
07-17-2011 23:50:10 | More by ThreeWiseMen
4.72/5 rDev +9.5%
Have been in here a couple of times. It's a laid back kinda' atmosphere. Very urban. Didn't really care too much for their stout variety, but they did have a few good beers on tap. It was fun sitting at the bar, especially when someone would come in and ask for a Bud, Coors, or Miller. They didn't serve those beers their and that made it seem like my kind of bar to be at. Had a Belgian Imperial Stout that was a little bitter and sweet. Had two as their variety to choose from was small. I'll be back. It was a cool place to visit.
06-18-2011 08:44:01 | More by FARGO619
4/5 rDev -7.2%
It lives up to the name for sure. This place is quaint to say the least. Very dark inside. The beer selection is great especially considering the size. The food is also really good and of high quality. This is one of the few full bars I can think of with a beer selection you can't believe. 42 taps is quite a bit by any standard. This is a nice place to hang out with a few friends. It does get crowded So I would arrive a bit early. Lunch is my favorite time to visit. Very low key and roomy. cheers and enjoy the beer.
05-27-2011 21:37:26 | More by gerrick
4.5/5 rDev +4.4%
This is really quite a place. Cool atmosphere, excellent quality, fantastic service. Both bartenders that waited on me were really friendly and attentive, especially Arlette. The 42 taps are all the highest quality from both American and European craft brewers. I had a glass of Russian River Consecration and a glass of Deschutes Abyss. Prices are very reasonable. I only had the fried pickle appetizer, but if it's an indication of how good their main menu is, I'd guess that the food was awesome. A definite "must stop."
01-11-2011 02:25:07 | More by Ambiorix
Small Bar in San Diego, CA
94 out of 100 based on 28 ratings.