O'Brien's

O'Brien'sO'Brien's
O'Brien'sO'Brien's
Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

4646 Convoy St
San Diego, California, 92111-2315
United States

(858) 715-1745 | map
obrienspub.net

Notes:
PLACE STATS
Average:
4.39
Reviews:
120
Ratings:
163
pDev:
8.88%
View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 120 | Ratings: 163 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

4.95/5  rDev +12.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

A much needed update to my original BeerFly which is nigh on 2½ years old now. In short, O’Brien’s is *THE* place to be in SoCal, period.

My latest of many visits over the years was for the O’Brien’s 2nd Wet Hop Festival, that speaks volumes for the place in itself. The set up was laid back but attention to detail was impressive. It was busy at times, but the Service was absolutely top-notch, from all the servers, we even had table service when the servers were passing by, always asking how we were doing, anything else? Could not knock the quality, attitude and informed service one bit.

Aside from the 2nd Wet Hop Festival treats, the bottled Beer List itself has expanded slightly, not the greatest of numbers but a well thought out varied selection that will appeal to all. You can also buy One (for now) bottle to take-out too. But Draft is where it is at though, loadsa Hoppy Specials and the Beer Engine is still going strong with interesting Cask Ales at all times.

Since July 03 and my prior Review I had upped the Food mark. It’s not Cordon Bleu but the “Pub Grub” is stunningly attractive, wholesome, home made and takes some beating. The legendary Burgers often come with hot spicy beer cheeses now and the legendary Garlic Fries come with a beer-battered option, leave your cholesterol monitor at home! All this at very reasonable prices too.

Finally, working backwards, Atmosphere – It’s a 5.0, for me at least. Great Beer Bars so often suffer from high prices or attitude, you will find neither here, where else could you sit next to a table that had Vinnie Cirluzo of Russian River, Tomme Arthur and Jeff Bagby of Pizza Port, Tom Nickel (ex?) Oggi’s as well as the guy who owns/runs the Toronado in SF…..all relaxing and having a good laugh and drinking Wet Hopped beers and erm, well, playing Connect 4. Ego’s are left at the door here, I really like that, and the comfy Green Chairs of course. This is a real Down to Earth Gem – thoroughly wholesome, incredibly relaxing and a genuine unique treat. It is so easy to spend 10 hours in here and not even know it, I know I have done it several times.

Original Review: 4 - 4.5 - 4.0 - 5.0 - 4.0 >> 4.45
Revised Review: 5.0 – 5.0 – 5.0 – 5.0 – 4.5 >>

<DO NOT> leave SoCal or SD without visiting O’Brien’s!!

Last Visit: 22nd / 23rd October 2005

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Sat right in the corner unit of a strip mall, the unassuming exterior of this small bar hides a Cave à Bières gem.

When we arrived, there were some people sat outside behind a small fenced terrace area at the front. Inside it is rather small, quite cozy and was busy when we arrived*. The bar is to the left as you walk in, & runs all the way down the left handside with 20 Taps set against the back wall. Seating is available on the right hand side. All the seats are very comfy green swivel armchair affairs with castors, a unique touch & highly appreciated. Lots of coasters, & some Bar Towels, adorn the false beams & a small 45 degree false tiled-roof that runs all around the real ceiling, which helps to give a pub feel.

The range is excellent. There are two Beer Lists, one for draft, & one for bottled. Draft beers include many local offerings with a solid focus on hoppy beers. The bottled list has a great selection of Belgium Beers, all served in the correct Glassware which is a welcome refined touch, still quite rare I find. I started with an Oud Beersel Gueuze, & finished with a Rochefort 6 - the latter quite a rarity given its bigger brothers' dominance.

But the best was yet to come, a lone black-handled Beer Engine, with a homemade pump clip fashioned from a reversed coaster with the words “Oak Aged Arrogant Bastard” written on it. Could it really be that this legend was right here!? It was! I recall that we had at least two pitchers on our Table, before it ran off. I had 2 pints, & the effects of the oak aging were clearly evident, the beast had refined edges with a little more complexity.

We also ended up sharing some fine “beery snacks”, which were great, especially the Baked Potato covered in some fiery cheese. *We also happened to drop on a Mike’s Beer Cheese Tasting. Our luck was limitless it seemed. A plate of 3 mixed cheeses & crackers was summarily ordered. It proved to be a huge hit with the group. The Double Napalm Bastard cheese was awesome.

Quite simply - we were spoiled from start to finish. The service was very pleasant from the waitresses, & even the workaholic Tom Nickels himself at one point.

All this, as well as BA friends; 'xlperro', ‘EyeChartBrew’, ‘chuck’,
‘mzwolinski’, & we even had the company of the lovely ‘BeerWench’ for a while. What more could you ask for?

A cracking Beer Bar and my favorite bar of the whole days SD Pub Crawl. It was a real shame to leave it.

**HIGHLY Recommended**

Last Visit: 12 July ‘03.

Nov 05, 2005
More User Reviews:
Photo of Gatch
Gatch from Rhode Island

4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Accidentally stumbled upon this as I was looking for a good Asian spot to eat on Convoy. I saw this place and its name sounded familiar from years ago. Lo and behold, it’s THE O’Brien’s. Probably not as legendary these days as it was back in the 2000s when it was one of those truly special places to find truly special beers. The Pliny, fried chicken sandwich, and tots were all delicious. And as an bonus, this is a Liverpool FC fan club/bar!

Jul 04, 2020
Photo of slasich
slasich from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

May 17, 2020
Photo of psumjl269
psumjl269 from Virginia

4.66/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4

May 16, 2019
Photo of chrisjws
chrisjws from California

4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Mar 11, 2019
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brycevolk from Ohio

4.19/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Jul 24, 2017
Photo of hops_and_waves
hops_and_waves from California

4.7/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

One of San Diego's original craft brew bars. The tap list is usually awesome. Tap for tap, usually one of the best lists in town. Especially if you like hops. They also have a good bottle list. The service is great. The food is great and very reasonably priced by San Diego Standards. The parking isn't so great. They also have a bunch of TVs for sports fans. The craft beer scene owed a debt to places like this who helped create the craft beer bandwagon.

May 20, 2017
Photo of deniserat
deniserat from California

5/5  rDev +13.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Jun 16, 2016
Photo of Gobzilla
Gobzilla from California

4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Nov 15, 2015
Photo of mrcraft
mrcraft from California

4.28/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I finally ventured out of my comfort zone of Downtown San Diego during a business trip and stayed at a hotel near O'Brien's. I'm glad I finally visited O'Brien's. I've always heard good things about it, here on BA and other places. It lived up to its reputation.

O'Brien's is located in a strip mall. Once you enter, the bar is on your left, but with somewhat limited bar seating. The do have lots of tables both inside and out. I saw guys playing darts in the back; this place is grungy in a good way.

The tap list was nice. I was specifically wanting to try the Alpine O'Brien IPA, but the keg kicked earlier in the day. Darn. Another trip! I ended up trying a maple porter brewed by a local brewery for full pint. It was solid.

I enjoyed my visit.

Oct 22, 2015
Photo of sunrats
sunrats from Arizona

4.88/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Sep 14, 2015
Photo of billab914
billab914 from Virginia

4.34/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

May 21, 2015
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blockdude from California

4.79/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.75

May 15, 2015
Photo of Thepleasantimbiber
Thepleasantimbiber from California

4.39/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Mar 10, 2015
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the_encinitan from California

4/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Feb 18, 2015
Photo of MisterGone
MisterGone from California

4.73/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

I would first warn potential new patrons of the parking issue. The small lot that services this place is always completely full. No worries, plenty of street parking (not on Convoy!). Every time we've come we've had less than a block of walking. I now skip the lot and go straight to street. On reason for this is that it appears that this little strip mall holds 4 of the most popular eateries in all of Kearny Mesa (this being one of them).

Get in line and order at the corner of the bar closest to the front door. Take your brew and number (for food) an head for a seat. Myself, I prefer the green rolly-chairs, reboots from some 1970s law firm library. Take in the decor of brew banners and signs, and soccer on TV (our last visit was watching Tottenham thrash Chelsea).

As for the beer, this is a beer geeks place. Simple as that. They've got what you want. Full selection of San Diego, notable American, and Belgian offerings. So far the only place I've been that has Alpine without having to go up the hill to Alpine.

The menu is a bit deceptive. Looks like typical pub far of sandwiches, burgers, deep fried stuff. Bu the sandwiches are just fantastic. Great flavor combos. And who would think that a beer place with burgers and sandwiches would have stellar salads? Perfectly tart Caesar.

This is a must. Just go.

Jan 08, 2015
Photo of bigTmachine
bigTmachine from New Jersey

3/5  rDev -31.7%

Dec 12, 2014
Photo of HunterSBeerson
HunterSBeerson from California

4.75/5  rDev +8.2%

Dec 08, 2014
Photo of AmandaBT
AmandaBT from California

5/5  rDev +13.9%

Nov 09, 2014
Photo of Coconuts
Coconuts from Arizona

4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Oct 20, 2014
Photo of wethorseblanket
wethorseblanket from California

4.35/5  rDev -0.9%

Oct 18, 2014
Photo of Halloran33
Halloran33 from California

4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Oct 15, 2014
Photo of DoubleJ
DoubleJ from Wisconsin

4.45/5  rDev +1.4%

When I look back at my 20's, I'm going to remember a number of things; college graduation, trips to Brazil, life on my own, a taste for beer. Not far off that list will be "Why did it take me more than seven years to visit O'Briens?" Although I've lived an hour north, I found time to make a few beer-related trips to San Diego each year, but each time bouncing pass O'Brien's.

But finally, that moment happened. Brazukas from overseas in town, and they're ready to drink the town dry of hops. In a strip mall filled with Asian eateries, O'Brien's look out of place. There was no parking inside the strip mall, so that meant parking on the street. I was worried that all the cars were driven by thirsty beer drinkers, but on a Thursday night, there was still ample space to crawl around and find our own seats at the bar. Somewhat darkly lit inside, lovely Belgian beer glassware visible behind the counter, beer signage pasted on the walls, a marker board posting special events, and even pimping its own special beer trip to Europe, you can tell there's a love for beer at O'Brien's.

Choosing a beer was another challenge, as two dozen fun beers were pouring from tap, two casks, and a bottle list filled with lovely Belgians. We were lucky to hit on the night of fresh hop ales, as it looked that one of my mates reached a hop orgasm before the night was through. Beers from Ballast Point, Bell's, Artifex, Nickel, Rochefort, Tripel Karmeliet, all available and (of the beer I tasted ) in excellent shape. Perhaps the one small flaw I can think of involves those boring shaker pint glasses

On par with the beer was the service, which was not only knowledgeable, but quick and enthusiastic to serve. I also snuck in time for some food. Food is simple but tasty (garlic fries, nachos, sausage & cheese plate), further putting O'Brien's into legendary status.

Can't decide which brewery to visit? Just visit O'Brien's instead. It's certainly better than feeling undecided to which brewery to visit next!

Oct 13, 2014
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nebuchadnezzer from California

4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Oct 10, 2014
Photo of AlexM
AlexM from California

5/5  rDev +13.9%

Sep 10, 2014
O'Brien's in San Diego, CA
Place rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 163 ratings