Best brewpubs, greatest gastropubs, and beautiful beer gardens

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San Diego’s best brewpubs

If tasting rooms exist to serve fresh beer to beer enthusiasts, brewpubs place a premium on serving fresh beer alongside good food. These spots foment a greater felling of community, attract more diverse crowds, and often become beloved neighborhood hubs.

South Park Brewing Co.

1517 30th Street, South Park

South Park Brewing Company

Two years ago, I never thought I’d walk past Hamilton’s to drink next door instead. But this casual-seafood sister restaurant offers a more neighborly meeting spot, and some days sitting at a shared table drinking fresh, brewed-on-premises beer wins.

Blind Lady Ale House

3416 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights

Blind Lady Alehouse

There are plenty of guest taps equipped to slake your thirst at this family-friendly pizza spot, but don’t skip the offerings of on-site Automatic Brewing. You’ll have to stand in separate lines to order beer and food, so order beer first and have something to drink while standing in line to order pie.

The Cork and Craft

16990 Via Tazon #123, Rancho Bernardo

The Cork and Craft

Because it houses both Abnormal Beer Co. and Abnormal Wine Co., this earnestly artisan restaurant sits incongruously inside an industrial park. Don’t be fooled by the bland exterior — you will both eat and drink well within.

Pizza Port OB

1956 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach

Pizza Port Ocean Beach

The award-winning brews churned out each year by this southern tip of the Pizza Port empire make up for the mediocre pizza. On the bright side, the thick doughy crust seems designed to absorb some suds so you may enjoy more of the always-worthy tap list.

URBN St. Brewing Co.

110 N. Magnolia, El Cajon

(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)

URBN St. Brewing Co.

People find all kinds of reasons to go to URBN restaurants — the pizza’s always great and the North Park location can be quite a scene. Check this one for the beer. Peel through a small assortment of quality house brews, and when you find something you love, order a pitcher.

San Diego’s greatest gastropubs

Beer and food pair well together — we know this. And so do the restaurants on this list, that also know that great beer prefers quality cuisine.

Queenstown Public House

1557 Columbia Street, Little Italy

Queenstown Public House

A funky converted craftsman setting and pub food by way of New Zealand afford this place plenty of atmosphere. A reliably good tap list gives you more than enough reason to enjoy it.

Underbelly North Park

3000 Upas Street, North Park

Underbelly North Park

It’s still tough to tell whether you’re sitting inside or outside when you visit this uniquely designed ramen house. It might depend whether you’re sitting at one of the fire tables or the well-appointed beer bar.

Churchill's Pub and Grill

887 W. San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos

Churchill’s Pub & Grille

One of the OG craft beer spots in the county serves laudable food to go with a consistently excellent tap list, including special tap events and food-pairing dinners.

OB Noodle House

2218 Cable Street, Ocean Beach

OB Noodle House

Some may still prefer the original OB Noodle House location. Both offer great beers, but this one gets the nod thanks to patio seating with a people-watching view of lively O.B. sidewalks.

URGE American Gastropub

16761 Bernardo Center Drive, Rancho Bernardo

Urge Gastropub

Most likely, there’s a subset of people who visit Urge strictly for the food. But given the impressive collection of beers that roll through, I suspect most come for the beer and wind up enjoying both.

Beautiful beer gardens

The best brew- and gastropubs let you sit outside in beautiful surroundings. This is San Diego, after all. We’re known for sunshine, not just craft beer. These spots offer both.

Stone Brewing Co.

1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Nearly a decade after construction, Stone’s paean to beer remains the best place to drink in the county. The gardens have grown to the point you may luck upon a moment of seclusion in the twisting greenery, while exploring a tap list rich with rare Stone releases and stellar guest beers.

Panama 66

1450 Plaza de Panama, Balboa Park

Panama 66

One visit’s enough to question why we haven’t always had a craft beer bar in the Museum of Art’s sculpture garden? Even if you don’t take your drinks to kick it on a blanket in the grass surrounded by eclectic artwork, you get to stroll along El Prado both coming and going.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

9675 Scranton Road, Sorrento Valley

Karl Strauss Brewery Gardens

Koi ponds and waterfalls… 20 years ago, such a place may have been deemed necessary to lure people to a craft beer setting. Given the number of bare-bones tasting rooms that have popped up the past decade, we’ve clearly lowered our standards, which is fine. But this is still better.

Alpine Beer Pub

1347 Tavern Road, Suite C23, Alpine

Alpine Company Pub

Alpine Beer Co. went from a small, overcrowded, and falling-apart dive bar in which to serve its fantastic beer to a stylish and spacious restaurant on the appropriately named Tavern Road. Its modestly landscaped outdoor bar rewards Alpine devotees for making the trek east.

The Quartyard

1301 Market Street, East Village

Quartyard

Lay out artificial turf and plop down some shipping containers in an empty lot and you have yourself a park. Include a dog run and craft beer service, and you have something better.

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