DIY Beer Tour: San Diego’s Little Italy and Restaurant Row
Miramar, North Park, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach are all booming with breweries, brewpubs, and restaurants with amazing craft beer selections. Though you could go to those spots… there is another area you may not initially think of when it comes to beer. That would be Little Italy and Restaurant Row. The area is mostly known for their art, craft cocktails, and variety of amazing restaurants, but don’t count them out on their craft beer selection too! Many of our favorite places in Little Italy and Restaurant Row have been around for a while, but have remained best kept secrets. Add to the mix a few new establishments that have caught our attention due to their excellent service and superb craft beer selection, and you have the makings for a great DIY Beer Tour!
We have compiled a list of breweries, brewpubs and restaurants with a craft beer selection that will not disappoint. We suggest hitting this DIY Beer Tour by bike, on foot, or even Uber/Lyft. Finding parking is not worth your time or money, plus it’s always nice to enjoy a little bay breeze after a few cold ones. Cheers!
STOP ONE: Stone Company Store on Kettner
Address: 1202 Kettner Blvd #101
Why it made the list: Tucked in between the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Fe Depot train station and historic McClintock Warehouse building, Stone creates an oasis in the middle of the city. The ivy clinging to metal lattices, repurposed barrel chairs, faux rock formations and a centerpiece of a stone table and fire feature give the illusion that one is miles away from the city. Tilting your head back to enjoy your Mocha IPA you become aware of the high rises surrounding you, and you realize you are indeed still in the city. This is an intimate tasting room that provides a safe space away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown. Everything you expect from Stone; growler fills, year round beers, special releases, company merchandise, and knowledgeable beertenders are present at this small company store. It’s a wonderful first stop for our beer tour.
STOP TWO: Bolt Brewery
Address: 1971 India St.
Why it made the list: A few block away from Stone and right in the heart of Little Italy lies Bolt Brewery. One of the cool things about Bolt Brewery are their custom flights. If you’ve ever ordered sushi by ticking off your rolls with a golf pencil, these custom flights are essentially the same thing. You are provided a paper listing all of Bolt’s beers on tap. You then simply check off the beers you would like to try and in which order you would like to try them. If you need any help deciding, the beertenders re there to offer helpful suggestions. On top of the simple ordering system for beer, Bolt has great bar food. Keeping it simple, Bolt serves up: salads, wings, burgers and pretzels. Mondays are a great day to visit as they have their special, a burger with fries and a beer for only $10!
STOP THREE: Ballast Point Brewing Co.
Address: 2215 India St
Why it made the list: A short walk from the smaller breweries is a San Diego giant, Ballast Point. Ballast Point offers a very different ambiance than Stone or Bolt. It’s always full of San Diegans and visitors alike, creating an exciting atmosphere for all. The art work and their patio are some of our favorite features of this brewery. Wrapped throughout the brewery are vibrant representations of their beer labels. The famous Sculpin, colorful Dorado and Indra’s beer loving Octopus adorn the walls of the brewery. After admiring the art work, take a stroll to the outdoor patio. This is the best place to order their year round beers as the line is usually a lot shorter than inside. Out here you can soak in some sun at one of their high top tables or nestle in their cabanas and sit around the fire. Wherever you decide to park your yourself for the night, you are sure to be surrounded by many people enjoying great beer.
STOP FOUR: Bottlecraft
Address: 2252 India St.
Why it made the list: After you enjoy your time at Ballast Point, you can simply cross the street for our next stop on the beer tour. Bottlecraft’s quantity and variety of beers is sure to thoroughly impress you. On top of having an amazing draft list, there is another aspect to Bottlecraft that will make you day. While their you can purchase a bottle or bottles of beer to either drink there or take home. The Little Italy Bottlecraft is also home to some of the most knowledgeable and friendly beertenders around. They will always make you feel comfortable and are glad to offer personal suggestions. There is also additional seating upstairs above the bar that makes for a nice intimate setting. Although Bottlecraft does not serve food, they do allow you to bring your own. A couple of places conveniently located close by are Raki Raki Ramen and Pokirrito.
At this point in our beer tour, you will either need to grab an Uber/Lyft or start peddling! You can still walk to the next stop, but it will be a bit of a trek.
STOP FIVE: IL Centro Pizza e Birra
Address: 3625 India St
Why it made the list: The North side of India St., also known as Restaurant Row, is home to a number of great brewpubs and restaurants that are worth visiting. Our pick is Pizza e Birra is a great place to grab some za andenjoy a beer. They also have a cozy and intimate patio perfect for devouring your pizza in peace. The 20+ beer list is not the only great aspect, they also have amazing pizza to compliment. Name a more iconic duo than pizza and beer…we’ll wait. Their beer list includes selections from Ninkasai Brewing Co., New English Brewing, Three Weavers Brewing Company, Novo Brazil Brewing and more. You can always check online to view their updated beer list through Taphunter.
Check them out on: YELP
STOP SIX: Regal Beagle
Address: 3659 India St
Why it made the list: A small community joint, Regal Beagle offers a selection of beers that rivals many large establishments. This stop was added to our beer tour particularly for their amazing draft list and quaint dive bar feel. Their draft list is incredible and very well selected. With 20+ beers on tap, you always have a lot to choose from. Don’t get too comfortable with their beer selection as they tend to change it frequently so enjoy it if you see it. Regal Beagle is another bar that also offers delicious food. Our particular favorite day to visit is Thursday, aka Wing night. Their homemade chicken wings and sauces are some of the best around. Make sure to check out their twitter for the daily specials. The atmosphere is always very lively and friendly, making this a great local bar.
LAST STOP: Shakespeare Pub
Address: 3701 India St
Why it made the list: For our last stop, we are taking you across the pond to one of Restaurant Row’s most well known establishments. We’re warning you right now, don’t expect to find your favorite IPA here. Shakespeare is known for their European beer selection. This stop is intended to get you out of your comfort zone. Though the usual craft beer selection is not available, there is guaranteed to be a beer here you will love. Reach for a Boddingtons, Oxfordshire or go for the perfect pint aka Guinness. One of the interesting things about beers from across the pond is their foam. Do not fear the foam! The foam in most of these foreign beers is delectable! Smooth, thick and delicious. Shakespeare offers a trip to another part of the world right in your own backyard.
We hope you enjoyed our DIY Little Italy and Restaurant Row Beer Tour. Make sure to tag us along the way with #HoplightSocial.