The Gaslamp is a top dining destination, but I often view it as a Walt Disneylike imitation of a big city neighborhood.
Many of the businesses cater to daytime workers or tourists and, consequently, don’t feel like neighborhood destinations. Walking down Fifth Avenue, you can see lots of restaurants fronted by hostess stands where young women look at each passerby with hopeful eyes, desperately trying to get them into the eatery.
You do what you gotta do. It just doesn’t seem neighborly.
868 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
There are a few places that cater to locals or, at least, people that want to feel like one. One place I like is Quad Alehouse, a “beer study hall” that is located inside another great neighborhood bar, Gaslamp Tavern (same owners).
Vibewise, Quad Alehouse is the perfect type of bar for the discerning San Diego hophead for a few reasons:
— There is a large selection of craft brews on tap, many of them local.
— The environment is college casual. I bet you could walk in sporting laundry day casual — a pair of pajama pants turned inside out — and no one would blink an eye.
— The food is tasty and reasonably priced (as reasonably priced as you can get in the Gaslamp without resorting to sliced pizza or Subway).
Long tables mean it’s possible you’ll be sitting next to people you don’t know, but could become friends with after a few brews.
When the place opened about a year and a half ago, the food concept was to pick a type of meat and whether you wanted it on a sandwich ($14.50, including a side dish) or a salad ($10-12, not counting a $5 meat upcharge).
The Moroccan lamb isn’t on the menu anymore, but the ancho chili-braised brisket is still a tangy option.
I’m all about the sausages. Quad Alehouse makes them in-house, and they are outstanding ($6 each naked, $8 if served on a roll). Add another buck for toppings like caramelized onions, grilled sweet peppers, crispy onions, or gouda cheese sauce.
The smoked andouille is spicy with a nice heat afterwards, perfect for being washed down with a wheat beer. The spicy bratwurst and gouda is both spicy and smoky — a perfect Porter pairing.
The salads are huge — a meal in themselves. I had the $10 garden salad. It was packed with fresh veggies and a tangy vinaigrette. I had sausages on mine because I like it that way. Your mileage may vary, but I like the meat mingling with the veggies, even if it wilts them slightly.
The jumbo Bavarian pretzel might seem steep at $10, but there’s a lot to it. Plenty to share, although, in my mind, there will never be enough of their delicious mustard or beer cheese sauce to go around.
My friend got some potatoes on the side. They were okay, but I found myself reaching for more of the pretzel.
Quad Alehouse is definitely my idea of a good beer bar, and it’s nice to know there’s a place I can go in the Gaslamp where I can enjoy myself without feeling the need to get dressed up. Laundry day is coming.