Downtown Johnny Brown's

Your Rating: None
Downtown Johnny Brown'sDowntown Johnny Brown's
54 Ratings
Downtown Johnny Brown'sDowntown Johnny Brown's

Type: Bar, Eatery

1220 3rd Ave
San Diego, California, 92101-4102
United States

(619) 232-8414

// CLOSED //

No notes at this time.

Added by xlperro on 04-07-2006

View: Place Reviews
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Ratings: 54 |  Reviews: 44
Photo of radshoesbro
3.43/5  rDev -17.5%
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.

 1,825 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Of all of the places I've visited in San Diego, only two really stand out in my memory. Downtown Johnny Brown's and Toronado. I'm not sure why. At least DJB's has a lot of character, but that's also a kind of love/hate thing for me. I like that it's kind of dark, dirty, and run-down with its linoleum floor and green panels on the walls, and the vinyl booths and the beat-up oak bar and everything. But it's also kind of college-like, and I guess that bugs me. Lunk-heads talking about how much of some good beer they drank one night bothers me. Drink piss beer! On the other hand I also like the cheap food (soup/chili $4-6, burgers $8.25-9.75, platters $13.25-13.75) so how can I complain?

But forget about all of that. If you can handle a grungy, low-key place with a great beer selection, then this is the place for you. If not, the very polished Yard House is not far away. Here's the difference, in reviewing the beer list at DJB's I couldn't fault one single beer. It may be a smaller list, but it's damned good. I found stuff here that I didn't see anywhere else, including Toronado. Let's hope that's still the case.

 1,128 characters

Photo of VaTechHopHead
4/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Went here for a "Bitter and Sour" beer tasting while on vacation and it was a very nice find. They offer several microbrews from Southern California like Lost Abbey, AleSmith, and Russian River on tap plus they have a pretty decent selection of bombers and 750ml bottles for purchase also. It's not a very large restaurant, probably seats around 60 people, but it's a great place to go and get some really good beer. It's only a few blocks from the major part of downtown so it's a great place to start the evening or night!

 524 characters

Photo of tpd975
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
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!

 1,222 characters

Photo of srandycarter
4.74/5  rDev +13.9%
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!

 528 characters

Photo of magictrokini
3.91/5  rDev -6%
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.

 500 characters

Photo of freeeekyyy
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

 872 characters

Photo of RunDWP
3.95/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

It's hard to find, as you can't see it from the street. You have to walk into a little courtyard, and look around to find it. Has a great hole in the wall ambiance and mostly filled with locals. Had a great selection of revolving taps written on a chalkboard, mostly San Diego-area brews like Alpine, Stone, Pizza Port, Ballast Point. The bar tenders know their beer, while my waitress struggled a bit to tell me how various things tasted, but she gave me a couple samplers to try, so it worked out. The food is basically burgers and fries, and it was good, but not great. Off the beaten path from the Gaslamp District and some of the other touristy places in down town San Diego, but definately worth seeking out.

 714 characters

Photo of kleffman
4/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Finally checked this place out before a Padre's game. Expected there to be some people around, but it was completely empty and the people working there had absolutely nothing to do. Pretty good size, with shuffleboard (always a plus for me) and a great tap selection. I had a New Belgium Eric's Ale (Sour peach ale) which is impressive because it's a rare beer. The bottle selection was also impressive. Sat outside on the deck which is quite nice. I think they should move to some place where they'll get more walk in traffic though. Overall happy with this place, and want to go back sometime.

 595 characters

Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
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...

 680 characters

Photo of jim102864
3.39/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

 1,008 characters

Photo of Flyer
4/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Hard to find, because it's not actually on 3rd Ave. -- you have to go behind the civic center building. It was worth a few minutes of hunting. Not a huge selection, but all were quality taps, including more than their fair share of big beers by Pizza Port/Lost Abbey, Ballast Point, Stone, others. Mostly local (but San Diego has a great craft brewer scene, so that's okay) but I was pleasantly surprised to find Allagash Black. The bartenders were friendly, efficient, and reasonably knowledgable. One even comped me my second beer for no apparent reason other than shared love of great beer (and, possibly, the Clash). Food was basic bar fare, but my salmon burger was pretty good. The atmosphere is basic neighborhood bar. (One reviewer called it part sports bar, presumably because of lots of photos of ball players, but if you're looking for a lot of big screen tv's and conversation-free male bonding, you'll have to go elsewhere).

 937 characters

Photo of epearson
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I hit this place up a few times. Always a good selection of beer on tap, although there were two taps wasted on fizzy yellow beers (budwieser, coors). But the rest of the lineup made up for it. Plently of local beers and some out of towner microbrews. Large space, pool table, shuffleboard and plenty of tv's. Kind of set back in its own little space between high risers in the commercial plaza which is pretty cool too. Standard bar menu that bodes well as long as there is some awesome beer, which there is.

When I have been there it seems to be a little bit older crowd who cleared out pretty early leaving only my crew along with the owner Todd and some other bartenders and a few others which was enjoyable.

They don't post it but they also get a selection of casks on thursday's but you would have to call and find out.

Its a good place to hang out for the night or start the night out before going elsewhere downtown.

 929 characters

Photo of DirtyBird
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
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.

 1,471 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next → last
Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego, CA
Place rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 54 ratings