San Diego: For your consideration

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by Trystero, Jun 24, 2012.

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  1. Trystero

    Trystero Aspirant (269) Jul 28, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Greetings my sun-soaked BeerAdvocate comrades. I humbly ask for your considerations concerning a few understandably subjective recommendations, as well as resolving some minor queries. I must preface this post with the disclaimer that I have indeed utilized the search function available to us as members of this site with regards to Breweries, Beer Bars, and Bottle Shops. I very much enjoy engaging in this form of research, in attempting to accurately assemble the most inclusive experiences for myself and my fellow travelers. However, being an unacquainted outsider, I have my limitations.

    In August, myself and three fellow BA's will be venturing from Ohio to the picturesque city of San Diego for a week of beer-centric festivities. During this week we will have very few obligations other than enjoying the charms of the city and it's highly regarded craft beer culture. We will be staying downtown near the Convention Center and we will have a car for at least a few days of our stay. First and foremost we plan to visit Alpine for their remarkable beer and barbeque. In addition to Alpine will we be venturing to Alesmith, Ballast Point, Churchill's, Hess, Iron Fist, Pizza Port/Lost Abbey, Toronado, and Stone. These stops, I do believe, are concrete parts of our itinerary. Other craft bars such as Neighborhood, Small Bar, O’Brien's, etc... may be patronized as well depending on proximity.

    So, with these points of reference in mind I ask for your input on a few particular matters:

    1. As one can probably infer, we will be consuming considerable amounts of excellent libations, and we will most certainly need to pair these craft beers with food. From high end culinary experiences to food trucks, I wish to ask for your recommendations for the best of what San Diego has to offer in dining. The availability of great beer on location is of course a plus, but is not at all a requirement. We are simply looking for some first-hand opinions and suggestions on dining establishments. Anything that is uniquely regional will probably be desirable but as far as cuisine style goes, we have no restrictions.
    2. There may indeed be a few days where something that doesn't revolve around the consumption of alcohol may be necessary to sustain mental and physical health. Any suggestions for such activities? Touristy attractions are quite acceptable considering we will, after all, be tourists.
    3. Most likely we will want to visit the beach, because I do believe it is a requirement when one is visiting California from the Midwest. What are our options for the most accessible beach from downtown, and the best way or ways to reach it? Being from Ohio, where beaches in any variety are quite scarce, I am unfamiliar with drinking laws concerning consuming alcohol on said beaches. If it its prohibited, which I suspect is the case, is it aggressively enforced?
    4. An obvious answer to this question probably exists but....... There appears to be three different locations for Pizza Port in the greater San Diego area, are there major differences between the three concerning beer selections, beer quality and food quality?

    Lastly, I would like to extend an invitation to any and all BA's who would be interested in meeting up for a beer or probably many, at any of these fine and reputable establishments during the week of August 10-18. It would certainly be our pleasure to raise a glass with any of you. Along those lines, I would not scoff at the opportunity for one or two in person trades during this time. If you're interested please send me a private message. Of course luggage space, in this matter is an issue so an expansive trade would likely be out of the question.

    Well, that I do believe, is it for now. I very much appreciate your time, consideration, and insight, and thank you for any, and all of your suggestions.


    jibboom56 and jrnyc like this.
  2. rrryanc

    rrryanc Disciple (310) May 19, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    If you're going to Alesmith, Ballast Point and Hess, you might as well stop in at Green Flash as well. Karl Strauss in Sorrento Mesa is close as well, and a pretty reasonable place to grab a bite. The food trucks at Green Flash switch around a bit (or at least they did when I lived there), so you might not know ahead of time.

    Since you're coming in from Ohio, hit up any taco-shop that ends in an "ertos" and order a Carnitas Burrito. You can thank me later.

    For touristy shit, I'd definitely recommend taking surfing lessons. It's a great activity, and August is a reasonable time for beginner surfing - should be sunny out and the waves won't be big. Also bring some sunglasses and oggle the "zony" girls in for the summer at the beach.

    During summer, and I speak from personal experience, the cops are nazis about drinking on the beach. It's a $250 fine or so too, so generally advised against. I'd suggest hitting up PB Shore Club in Pacific Beach though, and grabbing Red Bull/Vodka slushies. Doesn't involve beer, but it's still a great time.

    The different PPs all serve basically the same food and quality thereof. They do have different beer selections though, as each one serves some beer brewed on location. My two recommendations would be the OB location (benefit of being close to the beach and OB is a cool scene) and the Carlsbad location (good stop on your way home from Stone/Lost Abbey/Iron Fist/Aztec - though dining at Churchills would be my first recommendation).
  3. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (971) Sep 4, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    "Since you're coming in from Ohio, hit up any taco-shop that ends in an "ertos" and order a Carnitas Burrito. You can thank me later."

    Most agreeable suggestion I've ever heard in one of these threads lol. If it's mexican food and has tile floors, red or yellow falling apart booths, and a huge fan blowing to keep the flies out then you know it's good.
    albertq17, afrokaze and StarRaptor like this.
  4. SageO

    SageO Initiate (198) Jul 13, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    1. A lot of breweries have food trucks on occasion – you can check out the brewery’s website for scheduling. Also, keeps tabs on where the trucks are, but usually only for weekday lunch locations or evening gatherings. I’m a big fan of MIHO and Green Truck. Other than eating some proper mexican food at the aforementioned “-ertos”, there’s also some legit asian food along Convoy street, which also happens to be where O’brien’s is. I’d recommend checking the SD Chowhound board for restaurants closer to where you’ll be staying.

    2. Haven’t done much touristy stuff myself, but I can speak from experience that the zoo is pretty worthless during the summer because all the animals just want to stay in the back where there’s shade.

    4. In addition to what rrryanc said, you can check out their tap cams to see what’s available that day.

    Also, if you haven’t seen it already, nanobrew put together a nice map that you might find handy. And looking at my calendar, be aware that the 17th and 18th is the Stone Anniversary party
  5. Trystero

    Trystero Aspirant (269) Jul 28, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Excellent recommendations and insight gentleman. It is most appreciated.

    "Since you're coming in from Ohio, hit up any taco-shop that ends in an "ertos" and order a Carnitas Burrito. You can thank me later."

    I'm already drooling over this.
  6. nate8767

    nate8767 Initiate (82) Nov 1, 2011 Alabama
    Beer Trader

    What are "zony" girls?
  7. Sebowski

    Sebowski Initiate (122) Jan 11, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    The OP is much more amusing if you read it in a Ted form "Bill and Ted's" voice.

    OB Pizza Port is the best one. You can also knock out the beach, a great bottle shop (Olive Tree), and a couple other decent tap lists (Newport Pizza, Harp, South Beach <--get a fish taco here)

    For a great unique meal, check out House Hash. Go on a weekday though.

    Put Societe on your brewery stop list as well.
    bikeracer likes this.
  8. riko

    riko Aspirant (208) Jan 18, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    girls from arizona. it's unbearably hot there in the summertime, so lots of zony familes come here for vacation.
  9. rrryanc

    rrryanc Disciple (310) May 19, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    What riko said, but I meant more the girls from the Arizona colleges that summer in CA. Especially living in PB, seemed like the entire beach became Arizona college kids during the summer months.

    Also, I have to highly second Sebwoski's Fish Taco recommendation. The best fish tacos I found were at The Fish Shop in PB, but South Beach in OB has some excellent fish tacos as well.
  10. shawnrocker

    shawnrocker Initiate (0) May 1, 2012

    If only somebody had a blog with reviews, photos and a local's take on (mostly) beer related stuff in San Diego. If somebody had a blog like that, it might be a good resource for a guy like you.

    Also, both Monkey Paw (not far from you) and White Labs (Near Ballast Point and AleSmith) should be on your list.
  11. DougOLis

    DougOLis Initiate (185) Aug 15, 2008 California

    1) Food options:
    Downtown where you're staying:
    Neighborhood - Great burgers and good beer lineup. Try to get in to Noble Experiment hidden in the back behind the wall of kegs for a few excellent pre-prohibition style cocktails too
    Searsucker - modern american and creative takes on some old standards. Good food. Good drinks. Fun place.
    Cowboy Star - Best steakhouse in San Diego. Not really a traditional old-school steakhouse though.
    Cafe Chloe - Excellent French bistro
    Monkeypaw - Part of the Hamilton's/Small Bar/Eleven empire - Great beer, good cocktails and good cheesteak sandwiches

    Logan Heights:
    Tacos el Paisa and La Fachada - 2 very good taco shops not far from downtown. They both actually use an asador outside to grill up the carne asada (unlike most taco shops that just cook it on a flat top grill). I like the cabeza (cheeks), lengua (tongue) and al pastor (spiced pork) as well. Probably even more than the carne asada. I go back and forth on which taco shop I like more.

    Uptown/South Park/North Park:
    The Linkery - king of the farm-to-table restaurants and homemade food in San Diego. Great sustainable meat and lots of pork based items. Not cheap but not expensive. Portions aren't huge but it is really good. Good beers and wines on draft.
    Hamilton's Tavern - Excellent beers. Good grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers.
    Alchemy - right next to Hamilton's. Good beers and drinks. Better food. Another sustainable farm-to-table type restaurant. Probably the best burger in San Diego.
    Super Cocina - best Mexican food in San Diego and there really isn't anything else like it in the area. Homestyle guisados which are basically stewed/slowed cook items that are made by older ladies with their own family recipes.
    Mariscos German taco truck - Excellent seafood based Mexican. The fish taco itself is just alright, but the Gobernador (shrimp with grilled peppers & cheese), Pulpo (octopus) and Seafood Mixto Tostada are to die for. They have a few locations but the one I usually went to was in South Park not too far from Hamilton's. It's in the parking lot for the IGA.
    Toronado - burgers. sausages. beer.
    Ritual Tavern - across from Toronado. In the same vein as Alchemy and The Linkery but not quite as good.
    Urban Solace - sort of upscale modern Southern cooking. Really good. Best Sunday brunch spot in San Diego.
    Blind Lady Alehouse - Good beer and good pizza. They use mostly local ingredients and house make a lot of stuff. Favorite pizzas are Egg & Bacon, Chorizo w/ Poblano peppers, and usually one of the daily specials.
    Starlite - Fun place with good drinks, decent beer selection and good gastropub style food
    Craft & Commerce - Somewhat similar to Starlite. Better drinks though. The food isn't quite as good.
    Underbelly - Good ramen and beer
    Cafe Dore - Good banh mi sandwiches
    Cali Baguette - Good banh mi sandwiches

    La Jolla:
    El Pescador - Good fish sandwiches
    George's California Modern - Amazing view and excellent food. One of the best in San Diego. Pricey. They do have an upstairs more casual patio too that's good for lunch/late afternoon.

    Mira Mesa:
    Sorrento European Bakery - Not sure why it's called European. It's actually Vietnamese. Near Green Flash and they have good Banh Mi sandwiches. Super cheap.
    Pho Cow Cali - Great pho

    North County:
    Kaito Sushi - Best sushi in San Diego hands down. Not even close. Some people will tell you to go to Ota. Those people are idiots and clearly have never been to Kaito.
    Stone - a lot of contention on here about it, but I like it. And it's a great spot.
    Addison - Probably the nicest/best restaurant in San Diego. Expensive but excellent.

    Chula Vista:
    Aqui es Texcoco - Probably my 2nd favorite Mexican spot. Mostly lamb-centric but they do other stuff well too. The full lamb head is to die for. The rolled tacos (lamb or potato) are great, consomme is very good, and the huatlacoche quesadilla is delicious.
    Tacos El Poblano - Probably the best carne asada tacos in San Diego
    Tacos el Gordo - Not quite as good as its counterparts south of the border but a very good Tijuana style taco shop. Great carne asada.
    Tacos El Pescador - Best fish taco in San Diego. Off a truck in a Toys R' Us parking lot
    Tortas Ahogada - Same Toys R' Us Parking lot. Truck that sells Tortas Ahogadas which are these mexican pork sandwiches that are smothered in a spicy red sauce.

    2) Touristy stuff:
    Zoo/Wild Animal Park - It's an excellent zoo and one of the San Diego touristy highlights so you might as well check it out. The Wild Animal Park up in Escondido (near Stone) is pretty cool cause you can see the animals in a more wide open space. That also makes it a bit harder to actually see the animals though.
    Beach - see below
    Kayaking out of La Jolla Shores/Cove
    Hang gliding off the Torrey Pines bluff
    Baseball game at Petco Park - nice park. Shouldn't be hard to get tickets
    Head up to Julian and then hike to Devil's Falls for a swim
    Go to Tijuana and eat a shitload of tacos. So good. Mision 19 is one of the hottest restaurants in the area these days and worth seeking out for a dinner too.

    3) Beaches:
    Coronado - closest beach to downtown. It's big and wide but a little boring. Coronado is nice but lowkey.
    Ocean Beach - not too far away but somewhat more difficult to get too/poor parking. Lots of bars by the beach. Including Pizza Port.
    Mission Beach - most touristy beach in San Diego. Has a boardwalk with carnival type stuff
    Pacific Beach - the college kid party beach area
    La Jolla Shores - more of a locals beach. Nice beach

    4) Pizza Port:
    Same food at all locations. Some beers might be the same but they each brew their own special ones too and they have guest beers on tap as well.
  12. AndresR

    AndresR Aspirant (230) Jul 19, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Your timing is quite acceptable for Drinkabout!

    It should be that Weds. You can knock out 3-4 major spots in one evening. More if you plan it right. Drinkabout is a monthly event where 2 buses are on a circle route dropping off/picking up from like 8-9 beer/bars/restaurants for a 6 hour window. And its F'n Free!

    And yes, Hash House is amazing for breakfast. Don't eat the day before if possible.

    Most everything else seems to be well covered here.
  13. davemont

    davemont Initiate (152) Feb 20, 2008 California

    Just my advice, but since you're going to want to bring back beers, you might as well get a styrofoam 12-bottle wine shipper and pack it up with trades/shares. (best if you're flying Southwest, or course.) Generally the second bag fee is cheaper or about equal to shipping, which isn't advisable in the heat of the summer anyway.
  14. davemont

    davemont Initiate (152) Feb 20, 2008 California

    Quite the write-up. Good to see people willing to do this rather than say check the Internet.
    Monkeysanta and vivasbeer like this.
  15. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    a couple of things I will add to the list (or re-add).

    Downtown Johnny Browns - as the name indicates it is downtown, it is actually in a "plaza" area in the center of the civic center.
    Ortiz - my favorite Mexican place, this might have something to do with it being two blocks from my house, but no matter what it has the best Cali burrito I have ever had.

    In Point Loma there are two awesome fish stops, Mitch's Seafood and Point Loma Seafood. Mitch's has great fish tacos and PL has great fish sandwiches, smoked fish, and fresh fish to go.

    One other thing that is near downtown and fun to do (and not beer related) is Midway Museum. It is a tour on the USS Midway Aircraft carrier. Depending on how much you enjoy military history or museums this can either take 2 hours or 8. Also, in addition to the Zoo located in Balboa park, there are a lot of museums in the area along with the large parks.

    p.s. Drinking on beaches is monitored pretty well. I would suggest putting you drink in a different type of container (coffee cup). Also OB is the most chilled area and might be your best bet
  16. 01Ryan10

    01Ryan10 Initiate (0) Sep 10, 2011 California

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  17. FunkyMacGroovin

    FunkyMacGroovin Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2009 California

    I very highly recommend eating at Blue Water Seafood near the airport.
  18. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

    It is a get in line and order at the counter place, and ever since it was on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, the lines have been ridiculous - so go there at an off hour if possible. I get the stink eye every time I'm picking something up to take home from their fish counter, because when you do that they wave you to the front of the line. Good times.
  19. FunkyMacGroovin

    FunkyMacGroovin Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2009 California

    When was it on TV? I haven't visited SD in a few months, but I've never had an experience anything like this there.
  20. OTB

    OTB Disciple (386) Sep 2, 2011 California

    It was on Triple D a few years ago. I eat there often and it's a scene still. Best red snapper avo sandy in the world though.

  21. domtronzero

    domtronzero Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2007 California

    UnknownKoger likes this.
  22. DougOLis

    DougOLis Initiate (185) Aug 15, 2008 California

    Whenever I go there I call in the order and then pick it up. Makes it a much easier process.
    OTB likes this.
  23. peteinSD

    peteinSD Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2010 California

    there is a north/south train line called the Coaster which you should research as it drops off close to Pizza Port Solana Beach and Pizza Port Carlsbad. depending on where you base yourself you may very well be able to enjoy a car free trip up and down the coast.

    the solana beach location is the original and worth a visit and it's very close to the beach. the PP Carlsbad location is also worth a visit, walking distance to the beach, and if you go later in the day the PP Carlsbad bottle shop is open and they have a good selection and permit on-site consumption of bottles.

    and if you have not done so already, check this site:
  24. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Drive safe when going to North County, the drinks are plenty and that drive is long. Esp coming back. More and more breweries opening up all the time as well.

    If you're in PB checking out all the sunbaked girls from AZ (and the CA ones as well), the best beer bar in the area is the PB Tap Room.
  25. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Whoa brah! Check this out!!!
    Xul likes this.
  26. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    perfect timing for this thread... ill be in sd in a month, looking to set up ip trades/sharing of beer, it is only myself for a week while i attend the ESRI UC so i need some bas to hang out with.
  27. Trystero

    Trystero Aspirant (269) Jul 28, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I have no fear now, that hunger will be an issue. Thank you to everyone for all of your insight. White Labs is now near the top of our requisite stops.
  28. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    I'll be at the UC as well, and I work in downtown. If you want to get around sort of easily and do a little walking, paying for a trolly pass will get you to quite a few places, from downtown to Old Town for mexi food, or out further to get over to Monkey Paw, or whatever, a day pass will def make the walking easier, or you just hoof it. Downtown isn't that big.

    However the light rail won't get you anywhere coastal.
  29. TheBeerSnob

    TheBeerSnob Initiate (0) Jun 13, 2012


    If you're going to Alpine, beware that it's WAY out in the sticks. Julian, a historic town rec'd above, is also way way out there and hitting either of these places takes a big chunk out of a day (worth it though)

    Mexican food, particularly the famous "California burrito" is the national food of the great nation of San Diego. Find the best versions at JVs (surf'n'turf burrito), Nicos, Dos Brasas and if you can bear the line, lucha libre's surf'n'turf

    PB area has good nightlife but isn't a beer hotspot. It's super fun if you're into that scene, but I know some people who think it's all a bunch of bros and douchebags (it is, but some of us like that...and the beautiful women who come along with it) North park is a great area for a combination of nightlife and AMAZING craft beer bars. Its a must go. Cali baguette, mariscos german and super cocina are tops for food in the area.

    Anyway this guy named all the best food spots in SD and clearly knows the area (I'm a native 'diegan too, I can vouch for most of these recs)
  30. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    i ahve been looking online and it seems like there are a decent amount of bus routes. I will prob do the pre-ade beer tour to get out to stone. Not sure what is going to transpire for alpine.
  31. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Ha, the bus. What a joke. I don't recomend that, and you'll need wheels to get out to Alpine, which is about the same distance as Stone from downtown. There's a lot in the downtown area, and via a short cab ride you can be to OB for another bottleshop/brewery etc...

    What days are you actually in town?
  32. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    22-30 spending extra days for the beer side of things
  33. danwho

    danwho Devotee (430) Feb 18, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Go to Hodad's while in OB, for a burger. Nuff said.
  34. SageO

    SageO Initiate (198) Jul 13, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    I've had to take the bus a few times in the past year due to various car issues, and it'll make you absolutely miserable. From my experience it takes roughly 10 minutes/mile of travel (depends on the route though of course).
    pmarlowe likes this.
  35. Xul

    Xul Crusader (763) May 18, 2008 California

    The only exception is if you stick to Downtown/South Park/North Park/Normal Heights...the route 2 runs frequently enough (at least on weekdays) to be a reasonably easy way of getting from spot to spot without being particularly expensive. Weekends are a little slower, but still not bad if you want to take a bus from Downtown to North Park, walk around, then take a bus back.
  36. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

    Is it better than the Hodad's that is in the Gaslamp District?
  37. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    more good beer bars nearby so you can be more drunk to think it taste better.

    Honestly OP, Hodad's is okay and is more of a touristy place. It gets packed during normal eating times (weekend lunches and dinners). Do not take this as Hodad's doesn't have its place, which to me is a dive burger place that is great to eat after hitting up bars along Newport.

    TLDR: I recommend going to Hodad's in OB late at night after drinking at Newport Pizza, Pizza Port, Harp, etc.
  38. shawnrocker

    shawnrocker Initiate (0) May 1, 2012

    I agree with this. If you want a great burger either go to Rocky's Crown Pub up the road near Mission Beach or the Lodge at Torrey Pines, it's the golf course restaurant but they make a great burger. In OB I would be eating at Pizza Port or OB Noodlehouse.
    stawn likes this.
  39. tyrsis

    tyrsis Disciple (321) Mar 13, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    re: Burgers

    Go to Slaters 50/50. Sick burgers, 100+ taps.
    BrianTheBrewer30 likes this.
  40. shawnrocker

    shawnrocker Initiate (0) May 1, 2012

    Agree. Meant to add it in my post above. There is a blog review of Slaters 50/50 on my site. Great place.
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