Edna Gutierrez

Draft at Mission Beach: San Diego Beer and Food with a View

Just in case you haven’t heard, there are two things that define San Diego: the beach and beer. Magic happens when these two come together. Such is the case with Draft, the newest restaurant at historic Belmont Park on Mission Beach. Draft recently opened its doors on the boardwalk overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. So, in the spirit of research, and a much-needed drink, I stopped by with the mission to draft you a picture.

Beer labels dress the tables and rails of Draft

I visited during lunch time and sat inside near the patio to enjoy the beautiful ocean view. The décor can be labeled as exactly that: labels. Beer labels cover the tables and rails, over by the bar you can see the more than 69 beer taps that make this place so special. Next to the bar adjacent to two pool tables, you can’t miss the wall-sized 31.5-ft television screen displaying scenic images of San Diego and local brewing companies. Draft shows major sporting events and has become quite the hot spot to watch sports. On the other side of the bar, tucked away in a glass room, you can see all the kegs being pumped to keep the beer flowing.

The pistachio crusted salmon sandwich was the perfect choice for a nice lunch near the beach

Looking at the menu, it was hard to make a decision. I went for the pistachio crusted salmon sandwich (with meyer lemon aioli, arugula and fennel) and a side of fries, of course. My burger-looking-sandwich is one of the best I’ve had, so many graceful flavors twirling on my taste buds. I could barely taste the pistachio, which was perfect because I was afraid it would be overwhelming. The fries where perfect too, thick and crispy – a must in my book.

Draft offers 69 beers on tap and 50 bottles from local, national and international breweries

Drinks? Obviously by the name, this is beer paradise, offering a true representation of San Diego’s IPAs, Porters, Stouts and beyond. With more than 60 options on tap and 50 bottles that rotate seasonally, it really comes down to picking your poison, or should I say passion? If you are not sure what to order, ask the staff, they will happily guide you to the right choice.

Close the deal with a lemon meringue milkshake or the churro bites

When dessert time came, I couldn’t say no. I’ve heard so much about the lemon meringue milkshake (with toasted meringue and lemon curd) that I had to have it. I also ordered the churro bites (cardamom, lemon and horchata anglaise) since I grew up eating churros and am always curious to try different versions. When the desserts came, the milkshake took the spotlight, even the table next to me asked what it was. The best way I could describe the flavor is: lemony, but not too lemony, sweet, but not too sweet. It was good! I was so full by the time I finished my milkshake that I couldn’t eat much of the churros bites. They were very soft, but not too sweet, with more of a subtle taste.

If you love beer, the beach and great food, give Draft a go. It’s a delicious addition to the Mission Beach scene and to America’s finest and hoppiest city.

Good to know:

  • They have a kids menu.
  • Happy Hour is served Monday – Friday from 4 to 6pm.
  • Brunch is served Saturday – Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
  • Parking is free at Belmont Park, but might be difficult to find during summer and weekends. If you can’t find parking on the three lots adjacent to Belmont Park, you can try the lot across the street from the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

 What else to order:

  • Slacker jack popcorn
  • Pork belly corn dogs with truffled mustard
  • Mac n’ cheese with English peas, thyme, mushrooms, chives and smoky cheese

 The details:

  • Draft is located at 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109 
  • Open Monday – Friday from 11am to 2am and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2am
Sarah Weinberg

San Diego Crew Classic Rows Its Way on Mission Bay

Rowers - San Diego Crew Classic

With the excitement of rowing races complemented by sunny skies and warm temperatures, the San Diego Crew Classic provides a perfect backdrop for a spring getaway to San Diego.

San Diego Crew Classic

Rowers - San Diego Crew Classic

Don’t miss the excitement as it rows on by at the San Diego Crew Classic

More than 4,000 collegiate, junior and master-level rowers converge each spring in San Diego for the San Diego Crew Classic. Held on the waters of picturesque Mission Bay, this thrilling competition draws rowers and spectators from throughout the United States.

More than 126 universities, clubs and high school programs participate in this premier rowing event, with rowers ranging in age from 14 to 84 years old. For many rowers, the San Diego Crew Classic is the highlight of their competitive rowing careers and also tests the competitive skills of potential future Olympians.

In addition to the exciting races on the water, the San Diego Crew Classic features a trade show, alumni and corporate tents, food vendors, the waterfront Sierra Nevada Beer Garden, and a massive Jumbotron offering a perfect view for the start of the races.

Where: Crown Point Shores Park, Corona Oriente Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: April 4-6, 2014
Cost: $12-$15. Active military with ID and children under 12 years old – Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Crew Classic

San Diego Brew Classic

San Diego Brew Classic

Enjoy local craft beers and water front views at the San Diego Brew Classic

Enjoy the beautiful views of Mission Bay and the City skyline while sipping your favorite local brews at the beach. On tap will be beers from 10-15 breweries including Karl Strauss, Stone, Coronado Brewing Company, Hillcrest Brewing, Twisted Manzanita and more. Food will also be available for purchase.

Regular admission includes ten 4 ounce tasters and a souvenir cup. VIP admission adds an additional hour of beer tasting.

Where: Crown Point Shores Park, Corona Oriente Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: April 6, 2014
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $35-$40
> Find out more about the San Diego Brew Classic

Brent Bernasconi

Craft Beer Continues to Invade San Diego’s Uptown

Pint at Poor House Brewing

The Uptown region (especially North Park and Hillcrest) is well-known for its great food (coffee, vegetarian), shopping and nightlife. Locals and visitors also flock to Uptown in search of great craft beer, and these recent additions only make it better.

Craft Beer Fresh from the Tanks

Thorn Street Brewery

Thorn Street Brewery Craft Beer Tasting Room

On warm days, the upstairs roof of Thorn Street Brewery opens to blue skies.

Some of San Diego’s most notable home brewers teamed up to transform a home brewing store into a 7 barrel brewery and tasting room. This family-friendly brewery is a great place to enjoy a flight of Thorn Street Brewing’s eight house beers in the main wood-paneled tasting room or the upstairs area with barrel tables and booths. Watch out for the chile beer: it sits there unassuming in the line up and then bam, it hits you half way through your flight.

As of this blog post, Thorn Street can only serve flights which allows the space to be all ages. My nephew had a great time playing with the provided books and blocks.

Where: 3176 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA 92104
Growlers: Yes
> Find out more about Thorn Street Brewery

Poor House Brewing Company

Pint at Poor House Brewing

Grab a pint at Poor House Brewing

After Firehouse Brewing Company sadly bottled its last bottle, the founder Chris Finch had the urge to continue to brew. Beer lovers can now taste his delicious concoctions and more than 30 other beers at his new brewery/bar, Poor House Brewing Company in North Park. While enjoying a cold one, challenge an old friend or a new one you just met at the bar to a game of pool and shuffleboard. If it’s on tap, make sure to try the “Panty Dropper Ale,” an 18.5% ABV beast brewed with red hots!

Where: 4494 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116
Growlers: TBD
> Find out more about Poor House Brewing Company

Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego – Opening Soon

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et1wudaKTNc]

San Diego’s first nano-brewery is enlarging its 1.6 barrel system (50 gallons per batch) in a warehouse to a 30 barrel (1,100 gallons per batch) brewhouse in North Park. The pièce de résistance is a 50 skybridge that will guide craft beer aficionados over the brewery, located in the open air basements below, to the tasting room and back patio. Mike Hess Brewing will also be canning their 5 regular beers and using the original warehouse for experimental brews.

Where: 3812 Grim Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
Growlers: Yes
> Find out more about Mike Hess Brewing of San Diego

Craft Beer Bottle and Tasting Shops

Bine & Vine

What happens when the former proprietor of the craft beer store, South Bay Drugs, and a professionally trained sommelier join forces? They create Bine & Vine, located in Normal Heights, a craft beer and wine store that has become my go to place for a craft beer bomber or two ever since it opened. Joey and Stephen (former Beer Train Tour Guide) have a passion for craft beer and wine, respectively, and it’s reflected in the ever-changing local and international selections.

Location: 3334 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Bine & Vine

Bottlecraft North Park

Bottlecraft North Park

Browse the fine selection at Bottlecraft North Park.

The wildly successful and original Bottlecraft in Little Italy (and a frequent stopping point for me when I worked in Little Italy) is expanding into North Park. Those visiting and living in Uptown can expect the same great selection and knowledge of craft beers, all within walking and/or biking distance. Unfortunately, the owners could not bring the tasting room with them, but don’t fret – there are plenty of amazing craft beer bars and restaurants nearby.

Location: 3007 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Bottlecraft

Clem’s Bottle and Tap House

Will Ferrell Enjoying a Flight at Clem's Tap House

Looks like Ron Burgundy enjoys the flight selection at Clem’s Tap House. Photo courtesy of Clem’s Tap House.

Years ago, I went to Clem’s for Jolt Cola. Now I go to Clem’s Bottle House to pick up a local craft beer to enjoy at home or stop by the new Tap House to sample a flight of brews. Clem’s Tap House offers a rotating selection of four flights each offering four different styles of beer and/or a bottle list for those wanting to enjoy a full pint. Once you’ve ordered, snag one of the outside tables and enjoy your beverage of choice under the warm San Diego sky.

Location: 4100 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Clem’s Bottle and Tap House

> Enjoy more Craft Beer in San Diego

Been to one of the places above, or have another place in Uptown where you like to grab a craft beer at? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Candice

Draft names 7 San Diego Beer Bars Best in America

Craft Beer at Tiger!Tiger! - A San Diego Beer Bar
Craft Beer at Tiger!Tiger! - A San Diego Beer Bar

Tiger!Tiger! is a great San Diego Beer Bar for enjoying local brews. Just ask Draft Magazine. Plus, on Sundays mornings, you can order your beer with a side of doughnuts.

The secret is out: not only does San Diego produce some of the country’s best beer, we also have some of the best bars in America for enjoying a pint with friends. Every year, Draft Magazine publishes their editors’ picks for the 100 best beer bars across the nation, and it’s no surprise that San Diego beer bars make up a large part of that list.

Draft Magazine’s 7 San Diego Beer Bars

Perennial favorites the Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights, Hamiliton’s Tavern in South Park, and O’Brien’s Pub in Clairemont made repeat appearances on the 2013 list. Plus, for the first time, Churchill’s Pub & Grille in San Marcos, Encinitas Ale House, Tiger!Tiger! in North Park, and Small Bar in University Heights made the cut as well.

With 7 local bars on the list, San Diego ties with Chicago for the destination with the most appearance. You can check out the complete list of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars: 2013 online, or pick up a copy of January’s Draft Magazine.

Have a favorite spot that didn’t make the list? Share it below!

Candice

Heat Seekers Showcases San Diego Spicy Side

The Food Network’s Heat Seekers visit San Diego

On Monday, January 30, Food Network stars Aarón Sánchez and Roger Mooking share some of San Diego’s spiciest dishes on Heat Seekers, a show dedicated to tracking down the spiciest, hottest dishes around the country. With just one episode in San Diego, the chefs of course can’t cover everything, so here are our picks for San Diego’s top 5 spiciest creations for those who can’t get enough of the hot stuff:

  1. Yakisoba at Stone World Bistro & Gardens: Another entry of Japanese noodles, this stir fry packs some serious flavor with dark sesame oil, soy, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews. It can be ordered mild or spicy, and the chefs have been known to take “spicy” requests as a challenge. Also try the Spicy Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry with the Thai chiles added for an adventure way up in the Scoville Scale.
  2. Ghost Chili Sauce at UnderBelly: This ramen-centric hot spot has been packing in visitors since opening in November, but their spicy secret weapon isn’t listed on the menu. If you want some extra kick to your noodles, ask for their ghost chili sauce. But be warned – use it sparingly!
  3. Deer Hunter Wings at Hamilton’s Tavern: The tavern known for its extensive craft beer selection has also built a legend around its mouth-numbing wings. Their Volcano wings are made with habanero and Thai chiles, as well as the fearsome bhut joloka pepper. The Deer Hunter amps it up a notch by turning wing eating into a game of Russian roulette, with each order comprising 9 Volcano wings and one extra hot wing that they guarantee will ruin your day.
  4. The Butt BomberTM at Analog: If you can get past the name, you’ll get 4 layers of “totchos” (those would be tater tots, served nacho-style) topped with hot chilaquiles sauce, sour cream, 4 fried eggs, jalapeño relish, sliced tomatoes and 3 whole habanero peppers.
  5. Chipotle Brews from San Diego’s craft brewers: Have you noticed how well beer pairs with spicy food? And in a city known for being one of the country’s best craft beer destinations, you just know our local brewers have been experimenting with pepper-infused creations. Stone Brewing Co., Manzanita Brewing Company, Ballast Point and AleSmith have all released chipotle brews in the past, so stop in to one of San Diego’s many brewpubs to see what’s on tap these days. (You can sometimes find Manzainta’s “Where’s the Smoke” spicy craft brew in a bomber at local stores)

Have we missed any of your favorite spicy San Diego favorites? Tune in to the Food Network at 8:00 pm on January 30 to see what Aarón Sánchez and Roger Mooking had to say!

Alison

San Diego is Home to Nation’s Best Brewpubs

Just a Selection of Beer Taps at Pizza Port OB
Just a Selection of Beer Taps at Pizza Port OB

Just a Selection of Beer Taps at Pizza Port OB

Any idea where you’ll find the best small brewpub in the country?

It’s right here in San Diego – in Ocean Beach (OB), to be more precise.  Pizza Port OB, which opened in May 2010, was tapped Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival (PDF), the nation’s largest and most prestigious showcase for brewers and their brews. Head brewer, Yiga Miyashiro, was named Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year.

The OB location is the fourth link in the Pizza Port chain launched in Solana Beach in 1987 by Gina and Vince Marsaglia, a sister/brother team who are not brewers but have the Midas touch for finding top beer-making talent. (At that 2011 national beer fest, Pizza Port Carlsbad won Large Brewpub of the Year – for the third consecutive year.)

Delicious pizza goes great with a local beer

The chain began has a pizza-only restaurant – and chewy-crust designer pizzas are still a hot draw. Make sure to request the signature wholegrain beer crust. Salads are fresh, large and tasty.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach family Style Seating

Pizza Port Ocean Beach family style seating

Customers order at the counter and sit on benches at long picnic-style tables in the large, often packed, dining area. Ambiance is informal, friendly and noisy – a surprisingly strong family vibe (baby strollers are often parked alongside tables). There’s a small indoor bar and a sidewalk patio.

Delicious Pizza Port Beer

Delicious Pizza Port Beer

Choose from a wide selection of affordable high-quality beer on tap, including award-winning house-crafted brews as well as other locally crafted offerings covering a wide range of styles, flavors and punch. Can’t decide? For $4-$8, sample a four-brew tasting.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach is at the corner of Bacon and Santa Monica in OB.  It’s open from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays, till midnight Fridays and Saturdays.  Pints cost $3-$7; 10” pizzas run $7-$10.

Candice

San Diego: Craft Beer Paradise

There’s no doubt about it – San Diego is a beer lovers paradise! With more than 35 local breweries, our city has more craft brewers than any other city in the country. Join me on a video tour of my favorite places to sample the best beer that San Diego has to offer.