Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

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

(858) 715-1745 | map

View: Place Reviews | Events
Reviews: 119 | Ratings: 161
Photo of Yetiman420
4.44/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I did a three day brewery, brewpub, beer bar tour of San Diego which included a Saturday early afternoon stop at O'Brien's.

As a person who has absolutely no use for Irish bars, I was glad to see O'Brien's had nothing in common with the pedestrian beer selections of Irish American pubs.

The interior is small with comfy leather office chairs that I felt take up more room than necessary given the small size of the corner location with plenty of window and outdoor seating.

I sat at the bar and while I didn't chat anyone up, one could easily become friends with the other patrons.

It was Saturday and I was hoping to catch some college footall but instead they were showing a soccer match and there were mostly soccer fans inside. I had to hold myself to one beer because I accidentaly ordered a IIPA, Alpine Pure Hopiness, and wanted to limit myself because I was driving.
They had Russian River sours and plenty of beers on their bottle list.

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Photo of buzbuzzer
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This bar is one of my favorites in San Diego. It really is where the old school and new school beer community can hang out for good beer. If you ever wanted Pliny on tap or a fresh alpine beer, chances are you'll find it here.

The overall service is good, prompt and to the point. Sometimes I've seen even the most frequent patrons get a snappy attitude occasionally but that recently has slowed.

Beer events can get crowded but then again I have never seen so many Russian River rarities on tap anywhere else all at once.

For the most part, the taps are very active, but there are rare occasions they hit a lull and the beer list isn't what it normally is, so like the surf, check before you go!

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Photo of Shouzen
3.95/5  rDev -10%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Checked this place out in a quest for good beer bars close to where we live. Excellent selection of beers on tap and in bottles, and the staff seem fairly knowledgeable. I wish there was a bit more diversity with the beers though, as everything tends towards IPAs and other super-hoppy beers (but I guess this is San Diego, so...).

Food was very standard bar food fare - burgers, salads etc. Not really a place to come specifically for food, but it does its job. I did really enjoy the ample outdoor seating though. Overall, we will definitely be back, but I will have to order more stuff off their bottle list the next time...

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

I loved the atmosphere and demographics here. I fit in just fine - mid life, beer gut, out of style clothes, and a hoppy beer in my hand. Finally a great beer bar where most of the patrons are not Millennials!

Comfy chairs looked like they were right out of a bowling alley tavern, with a small dartboard area at the back. Seating area was tiny, but, well this is a tiny bar.

Service and food were rather average. No frills, no smiles, just sort of a "yeah what do you want?".

However, the tap list was among the best in San Diego. Over one HALF of the taps were IPA's or DIPA's. Unbelievable! Almost nothing for the person who likes reduced-flavor beers (maybe Duvel Green). No macros, no American wheats... just real beer.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.74/5  rDev -14.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

one of the more confusing spots on the journey. first off, i understand that even the suburbs, perhaps, especially the suburbs, need a place like this. its an irish sports bar with tremendous beer on tap and bottles? playing rugby on giant screens? sure! comfortable chairs (very comfortable, play that up) and decent, if slightly short, service. they did have ddgooze for takeout, but the $45 we didn't spend on it did come in handy at the tail end of the trip. see, americans can be fiscally responsible. apparently we just missed a north coast tasting, which would have been a happy funtime. regardless, a nice 20+ tap selection and comfortable chairs. we sank into them like a stripper into a lap.

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Photo of jneiswender
3.78/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Very busy place that is in a shopping plaza in North San Diego. Seems like there is good parking there. I was there at 5pm on a Thursday and the place was packed. You have to go to the bar to order the beer as the waitresses that night were busy. Nice selection of Belgian and Germans as well as Cali-brews as well. Food menu is very beer friendly. I had the beer burger made with Russian River IPA. Drank Pliny the Elder. Very nice service, very local feel but maybe hard to find a seat at times if you want to eat.

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Photo of ocmpoma
4.04/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

visited on 24 Feb 2010:

Stopped by here in the middle of the afternoon. Not really my kind of place; but at least the game they had on was soccer. Tables with green office-style lounge chairs inside were arranged on the right as I entered, the bar was on the left. Overall, the atmosphere was pretty standard for a bar, nothing to complain about.

I sat outside, and the service was decent, mostly I went here for the selection and I was not disappointed. They had some Ballast Point, Avery, a handful of others on tap, and of course absolutely no big name breweries -- all craft. I had a Racer 5, but only after having my first Pliny the Younger.

Overall, while the establishment didn't wow me, their selection was wonderful and the service and prices were more than adequate.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

First off, I don't like goddamn cigar smoke and there were way too many cigar smokers drinking beer outside on the patio. To be fair it is like that sometimes at the Falling Rock but fuck that. This place has an unbelievable tap and bottle list, I had Russian River IPA (not Blind Pig) and Alpine Duet which was delicious. The fried cordon bleu nuggets were amazing and a first for me. The cigar smoke on the patio was tough to stomach but if I was local I would probably stop by on a regular basis.

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Photo of steadydose
4.78/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I have been going to Obriens pretty regularly, atleast more than any other place I go, and it has become a favorite place for me and my friends to go. If you want to go somewhere to get quality brews, especially hoppy ones then this is the place for you. Obrien's has an extensive bottle list, where I usually get my sour fix after a long night of drinking stouts or IPA's. The food is good, I usually get the beer battered fries or there sandwiches. What I love about this place is the outdoor patio. I rarely sit inside. It's good place to hang out with friends and be able to enjoy my beers w/ a cigar if I choose to. All the bartenders are great and the patrons are really friendly. Highly recommended, maybe the only down side is sometimes its hard to find parking inside the main lot.

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Photo of DrJay
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

We showed up here just after opening on a Sunday and located it easily using the descriptions from other BA's barfly reviews. There were a few people on the patio, which looked to seat about 40 people, enjoying the weather or watching TV. There were several more TVs inside showing a variety of sports programs and seating for about 45 more. The interior was dark green and there was a dartboard in the back. There was a bunch of beer swag on the walls and tons of coasters pinned up everywhere, plus pub gear for sale behind the bar. The clientele seemed quite eclectic, with a combination of regulars at the bar and families at the tables. The bartenders were very familiar and friendly with their regular patrons as well as newcomers. They had roughly 20 taps going during our visit and were stocked with a great variety of beers from Alpine, RR, Port Brewing, Alesmith, and even New Belgium La Folie. The tap list was separated out into locals vs. craft vs. imports, with pricing broken out into the same groups. Pints ranged from $4 for locals to $7.50 for Belgians. There were a lot of bottled selections as well, but these were a bit pricier and it was difficult to justify bottle purchases when the tap list was this good. The food was solid too. My wife had a soup and salad that were decent and my brewer's plate (cheese, sausage and fruit) was good. The burgers looked tasty too, but we didn't stick around long enough to try them. Overall, I was satisfied with my visit. I could see this being a regular stop if I lived nearby and would definitely come here again when I next visit the San Diego area.

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Photo of Loki
4.38/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Finally getting around to my long overdue review.

Great beer place in the middle of a strip mall. (I knew I was in SoCal when I saw the restaurant four doors down called ToFu World)

Atmosphere: Part local dive bar, part beer geek bar. Mostly local bar vibe from what I gathered. With that comes with putting up with the local drunk, but hey I'm sure I've been that guy before.

Quality: I think all the drafts were local beers when I was there. Oh and SD has a ton of good local beers. Later that week they were going to tap two Sculpin dry hopped casks.

Service: Pretty good, no complaints, quick, and attentive.

Selection: lots of quality draft choices, I do think I even bothered to look for a bottle list.

Food: Food was ok, nothing great, but certainly not bad. I would have no problems eating there again.

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Photo of Diablerie
4.58/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

O'Brien's is an excellent, somewhat underrated establishment. One of the better beer bars in the San Diego area, for sure.

They have a wide selection of brews on draft and in their bottle stores, and I was impressed at how many local offerings they had. Specifically, I went on "Lost Abbey Night" and was pretty taken aback by the complete arsenal of Lost Abbey brews that they had on their lineup. This is where I tried the '09 Sinner's Blend from Lost Abbey, and to my knowledge, it was one of the few places that actually offered it.

It's also not unusual to find precious little gems on tap. Rarities that anyone might usually be hard-pressed to locate elsewhere.

Furthermore, the bar is haunted by friendly folk that are more than willing to exchange beer knowledge or thoughts. That, and the staff are courteous and pretty knowledgeable about the stuff they offer.

All in all, O'Brien's is a pretty chill, awesome place. If you're looking for a laid-back hangout where you can enjoy a brew after work or whatnot, then this is definitely the place.

Watch out for parking though. It can be somewhat of a challenge in the Convoy area, particularly that shopping center. You might have to park in one of the adjacent areas and walk a block or so over. Still, for the effort, the place is worth it.

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Photo of d0ggnate
4.35/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

One of the best beer pub's in San Diego, without question. The selection, especially bottled, is eye-popping. You would never think that someone could hold on to such beer's for so long, and then give them up so generously. I have found a bottle or two here that I never thought I would get the chance to try. A tip to others though: If you do find that rare bottle, go ahead and buy it. I skipped on and came back later for it, only to find it had sold out.

Anyways, the tap selection is great, great, great. It's nice that they sell pitchers, too. I got a chance to try a burger on my last trip and it was delicious. I had the cheeseburger with Russian River IPA cheese. So yummy. Friday night was a bit crowded for my style, but beer helps me get over that. If you haven't been, go ahead and stop by. A great place to enjoy phenomenal beer.

Last, it is great that you can walk outta here with import bottles. Drink a few and pick a bottle you wanna take home with you.

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Photo of GJ40
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3

I stopped in for a visit while in San Diego on vacation.

The atmosphere and decor are nothing special. I knew it was in a strip mall but I expected a little more inside. Not necessarily something authentic or high end but something more inspiring. The cushioned office chairs are a nice attempt but they just make seating in the small space a bit awkward.

But you don't go to a great beer bar primarily for the atmosphere. The draft beer selection was outstanding. They had 20+ great choices including some from Russian River, Alpine, Ballast Point and Bear Republic. We had RR PtE and Alpine Exponential Hoppiness.

The women behind the bar were very nice and helpful. And the prices were very reasonable ($4-5/pint).

The only downside was that we hit them while their plumbing was out. So the restrooms were overflowing and the kitchen was closed down. I heard it happens occasionally. It certainly shortened our stay.

O'Brien's could use a more atmosphere but they have a great selection of beer so it's well worth a visit.

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Photo of nomomentwasted
4.5/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Stopped by yesterday to pick up on some Exponential Hoppiness and some Victory at Sea; both have been on my desired tastings radar, and to have both at the same place at the same time was pretty excellent.

So the taps were about 20, with several Alpine's on tap due to a recent Alpine-fest, and it was pretty awesome to see Pure Hoppiness and Exponential right next to one another. Really good stuff. The pours are full pints too, right on. A full 16oz of a 10.5% and a 10% makes for a quickly buzzed and very happy me.

Food was decent, and pretty cheap overall, and the service was pretty speedy and friendly enough. Enjoyed that they were responsive and suggested certain beers and such. Didn't really need any more advice, there was enough there as it was.

Their bottle list is pretty fantastic too. That's a bit more expensive, but hey, it is what it is. They also have Casks all the time it seems, last night was Sculpin and Dorado Double IPA from Ballast Point. Very very good to see and will try again soon, perhaps even tonight.

All in all, everything about O'Brien's is awesome, save for the location, as parking is awful and the bar almost has a bit of a dive-like feeling to it, but in an endearing way. Well worth a check of their taps online, and very well worth it as the pours are great as is the service and selection.

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Photo of jdense
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Stopped by on Wed. afternoon 8/5. Pretty empty. Not much atmosphere, kegs, kegs everywhere, the outside tables were nice though. Located at end of Asian strip mall, was expecting a bit more ambiance.

Really nice selection of quality micros, especially from SD breweries, at reasonable prices, most were $4, with a few hard-to-gets $5 for a full pint. Even the high octane brews (Exponential Hoppiness) were poured in full pints. Didn't try the food, though I was curious about their beer cheese, will probably grab some on next visit.

A bit of the beaten path, but if you are looking for quality micros at reasonable prices, you need to stop by. Recommended.

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Photo of LittleDon
4.43/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Located in a strip mall.


Patio faces parking lot (in strip mall).

No AC? (granted, it was a warm day in SD when I visited).

Slightly better than strip mall atmosphere inside.

Cask only on Thurs.

You won't be bowled over by the number of taps (good but not overwhelming), but what they have is outstanding (AleSmith, Russian River, Stone Anniversary, Green Flash, to name a few).

Focus on locals (people and breweries).

Lots of IPAs and DIPAs.

WiFi (always nice to drink "at the office")

Value (3 pints + small meal + tip: under $25)

I only had a small bite to eat, but what I had was good (Monk's Lunch with Manhattan clam chowder, something impossibly hard to find any more.) Worth a second trip next time I'm in SD just to see what they have on tap.

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Photo of csmiley
4/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This is a pub located at the end of a small shopping center. Stopped by on a Friday afternoon and parking was minimal. It could take a while to get a space around the pub. Once you walk in, all directions point to the bar. All food and beer orders are handled in that vicinity. Table service is pretty scarce for the most part. Food was good based on the cheeseburger I had. Selection is very nice for a place this size. Taps included: Russian River, Ballast Point, Avery, Bear Republic, among others. Bottled selections were around 100 - 150 and also impressed. I noticed selections from: Cantillon, Achel, Fantome, Russian River, Lost Abbey, Dansk, and Hair of the Dog. Atmosphere is pretty laid back but it was still really busy given the fact that I stopped by early in the afternoon. Overall I could see this place being a great place to have a beer. Food would be something I might shy away from given the atmosphere of the place. If a busy pub is what you're looking for then this is the place for you.

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Photo of bigbelcher
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Located in an asian strip mall. Very dark inside. Rather small but they did have some outdoor seating which was nice. A great selection of IPA's on tap and a good Belgian selection of bottles. Some of the bottled beer was very overpriced in my opinion but the drafts were reasonable. Food was mostly greasy pub food, fulfilling but nothing spectacular to write home about. From the signage it looks like they show a lot of European soccor matches on their television. A good place and worth a visit but slightly overrated in my opinion.

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Photo of flexabull
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

In the middle of a strip mall, kind of dull on the inside with a few people outside, and only a handful inside. I soon found out why, it was burning up inside. Where is the AC?

Quality was very good. Nothing but the best here, the tap list was amazing. If I didn't have other things to do, or other places to go, I could have had quite a few pints here. Oh, and the heat inside was a bit of a turn off though...

Service was good. The girl that helped me was quick and pleasant.

Selection was very good, at least 30 something taps, with a nice mix of locals and imports.

All in all... it's very nice place, with an excellent tap list. But I am not sure why it is as highly rated as Hamilton's or Toronado though, the atmosphere just seemed lacking. (maybe hitting it on a Monday after work was the problem...)

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Photo of MickeyHops
4.68/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

O'Brien's is one of the best, if not the best, beer bars in San Diego. Centrally located in Kearny Mesa, the beer selection is second to none. Hophead favorites such as Pliny the Elder and Pure Hopiness are constantly on tap, along with oter steller selections from Russian River, Sierra Nevada, Alpine Brewing, Ballast Point, etc. The bottle selection is fantastic and includes various short run and hard to find Belgian brews.

The menu can be described as "bar food" but with a wide selection, daily specials, and some interesting surprises.

The atmosphere is laid-back, and the bartenders know their beer. The beer is served at a proper drinking temperature relative to the types of beers on tap (not mind-numbingly cold as with many other establishments).

O'Brien's is a must visit for any fan of craft brews.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
4.8/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Decided to come here when I was in the area because of how highly people talk about it. It was not what I was expecting. It looks like a typical semi-dive bar from the outside and soet of on the inside if you don't pay attention to all the wonderful tap handles and the cool leather almost recliner seats. You can tell they dont try and spend alot of money sprucing the place up.

The beer selection was great. All sorts of beers you would never be able to find at other bars let alone that many beers of that quality in one place. I had an Alpine Pure Hoppyness since I had never tried it before and then had to get a bottle of Damnation Batch 23 since I will probably never see it again.

Their bottle list is more impressive than a lot of bottle shops but it is too bad they lost their liscense to sell all bottles to-go. They can only sell non-US beers to go but most of those you can find in a decent bottle shop.

Service was pretty good but you get everything yourself from the bar any way but the service there was good. Frendly staff.

II will be coming here again for sure if I ever get the chance. Especially for one of their special event nights that takes place...

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Photo of opwog
4.22/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I have been to O'Brien's once years ago for some Stone party during the World Beer Cup, but back in those days I use to chisel my reviews on the side of brick buildings.

So I made my way back down there finally during their anniversary week, for the Greenflash night. First of all, the bar is an anomaly as an Irish named beer bar stuck at the end of a busy Asian plaza. So parking can be an issue as you try not to hit the hipster youth culture driving tricked out cars or small cycles with mohawk helmets. But once you get the car parked, everything seems to gel together. The bar itself almost prides itself on not being anything special. It is a smaller room with about 10 bar seats and then an uncomfortable assortment of over crowded tables and broken chairs. This is surrounded by an L shape outdoor patio with wobbly plastic patio furniture that you would buy at Longs Drugs.

But this place is not about furniture nor comfort, it is about getting a full pint of aged Barleywine if you want it. On this night they had the Greenflash 2004 Barleywine and their current Barleywine on brandy barrel. I have always heard that the service was bad at O'Brien's, but the girl who we kept going to was great. But at the end of the night we found out that she was new and coincidentally, I tried to ask a different girl a question and she mumbled something and walked away. So maybe some of the older employees are just a little jaded by the ramblings of the Imperial thought process. Besides a great beer list, all pouring perfect, we found out that they have one of the best French dip sandwiches ever to be served at a beer bar.

So you need to get down to O'Brien's now, get the French Dip and get your beer snob on.

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Photo of John_M
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Another exceptional beer bar in San Diego.

O'brien's pub struck me as a particularly odd looking establishment, located in an even odder location. It's located in the burbs, in a strip mall with quite a few other hole in the wall restaurants and shops. Like some of its peers in the strip mall, O'brien's is a very small establisment... surprisingly small in my mind. As one walks in, there is a straight bar running to the back and left side of the dininig room, seating maybe 10 patrons. The rest of the beer bar is a crowded mish-mash of tables and chairs, holding I would guess another 30 customers. The place has a cramped, crowded vibe, and atmosphere is clearly not what one goes looking for at O'brien's. As for the quality and selection at O'brien's, it's clearly top notch, and undoubtedly explains the place's popularity. I'd guess there was close to 30 beers on tap, with the selectoin first rate. Not surprisingly, the inside and outside tables were packed on an early Friday evening, with folks sucking down the likes of Pliny, Blind Pig, Bernardus x-mas, gouden carolus noel, etc. To say the least, the line-up here is nothing short of exceptional. Service is pretty good considering the crowd and cramped quarters. The 3 women tending bar and waiting tables were for the most part friendly and efficient, which was difficult given the size of the crowd. Food is so-so, but at least it's cheap and the portions good size. Don't expect a gourmet dining experience here and you'll probably be satisfied with the food at O'brien's. Prices are very reasonable; so much so that I was concerned the waitress had forgotten to charge me for part of my order.

This is a very good, solid place. Despite its shortcomings, I quite liked O'brien's, and wouldn't hesitate to come here again. As others have mentioned, I just wish finding parking wasn't such a complete pain in the ass in the smallish parking lot.

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Photo of magictrokini
4.63/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

English pub feel with a constantly rotating selection on tap and in the bottle. Small, cozy interior. Always a soccer game on, with football. Friendly, helpful staff, but can get busy. Tom is nearly always there and will fill you in on current and upcoming events. he's hooked in with everyone, so they have incredible events all the time. Only problem is parking is a pain in the ass and the location is so-so. One of the best beer bars in San Diego. The food is awesome. Best part, its all pretty cheap.

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O'Brien's in San Diego, CA
Place rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 161 ratings