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Downtown Johnny Brown's
Taps: 16 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
1220 3rd Ave
phone: (619) 232-8414
(Place added by: xlperro on 04-07-2006)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 41 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | $$
Shortly after originally posting this review, the owner of Downtown Johnny Brown's contacted me via BM, apologizing for the service received, and mentioning that some sort of remodel is planned in the future. As a result of this quick response, I am therefore updating my score to a "B" as to me, that shows a real concern for the business, it's customers, its perception, and in retrospect, one experience of mine should not tarnish the reputation of an establishment with such a long history. So, I am therefore updating my review for that reason, as craft beer bars are not nearly as common as just a bar, and adovacy, and access to better beer is very important to me, and obviously Downtown Johnny Brown's.
Below is my original review. 4/04/11 (score of C)
Stopped in this place after dinner as the last stop of the evening. Went to this place specifically off of the review’s here on BA.
Sorry to say, this place was pretty disappointing. First, the place was empty, at 10 p.m. on a Saturday when they close at 2. (by empty, I mean the bartender and three customers) Not the best sign for me, but then again I'm not crazy if it's wall to wall crowded either.
Second, they had erased their Entire chalk list beer board, because apparently a few kegs blew, not sure why they didn’t just erase those, instead of the whole list. I asked what they had on tap, on three occasions, and the bartender just kept asking me "what kind of beer do you like" instead of just telling me what they had. Maybe he thought him making a suggestion would be helpful, I get it, but by the third time of me asking, "what beers are on tap", and getting the same reply, it came off as condescending that I might not know anything about good beer, and that maybe he didn’t know everything they actually had on tap himself. The place had all of 3 people in there when we got there, so not as though he was too busy to list off at least a few of the taps.
All of the above aside, did get to try a coffee porter from Pizza port, and the SN 30th black barley wine (I had both before), but still good. They have a nice shuffle board, which was very cool, since those are not as common as say a Dartboard, and I always view those as plus to any bar. The place has a old east coast pub look and feel to the place, with some old framed photos on the wall, and wood molding. With that said, in my humble, and bluntly honest opinion, the place could use a bit of a facelift, as it also seemed like a bar a bit passed its prime, and one that use to be a great place to hang out, but has seen better days. For example they say on the menu "best bar in San Diego" 1987. Great, that's awesome, but it was also 25 years ago. Still promote that of course, since it shows a great history of the bar, and with the city, but maybe it’s time to strive for the best bar in San Diego 2011 now!
Anyhow, this is already sounding way too harsh, and I don't want to bash the place really, as the beers I had were great, I was just expecting" A" (meaning outstanding or world class) or better from other reviews, and it was just decent.
04-05-2011 00:11:07 |
More by Retsinis
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
Day One of westcoast beer excursion and we found ourselves at Downtown Johnny Browns. Not the easiest place to find, but worth the walk from the Hard Rock. Went in midday on a Wednesday and we were the only ones in the place. Luckily we ran into Mitch, awesome bartender who let gave us some suggestions of places to check out. He also let us know about an upcoming RR night where pliny the younger would be on tap for the evening.
The beer and bottle list is not extensive but it is definitely above average. Decent food and a cool laid back feel makes this place a must stop if you're in San Diego. On top of that we ended up running into the owner of the place while at Lost Abbey.
03-06-2011 02:31:41 |
More by Shaggy9356
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
I was in town for a conference and after one beer at the Yard House, I decided to try this place out, based on BA reviews. I was sooo happy I made the move. This is much more my style of bar--kicked back atmophere, better music, friendlier bartenders--and the beer was outstanding.
Not near as many taps as the Yardhouse, but they made up for it in quality and selection. I had Russian River IPA, Bear Republic APEX and Sierra Nevada Hoptimum and all were outstanding. They also had 4 different Green Flash beers and other local treats--probably 25 taps in all. Happy hour food prices are great as well. The bartender was incredibly knowledgeable about local beers and gave me several suggestions on where to find the best beer during my stay. I will DEFINITELY be back to Downtown Johnny Browns on my next visit.
02-11-2011 01:25:16 |
More by Hoppy2Bhere
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Heard this place had a pretty good selection of beers to try & I wasn't disappointed. It took us a few minutes to locate because it is hidden in the Civic Center court yard not directly on the street. There were very few people. The bartender was friendly and recommended a new Pizza Port IPA (while the wifes away) that we really enjoyed. They also list what they have on their website so you can check it out before you go. Overall pretty impressed. Plus a shuffle board table which is always fun!
12-29-2010 18:05:15 |
More by kcwhite86
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $$
Stopped by this spot on a slow afternoon just to check it out and walked away pretty impressed. The atmosphere is nothing special, but the bartender was knowledgeable and friendly, the prices reasonable and the beer selection excellent (and very well-rounded). The draft beers are all craft and largely West Coast, and clearly very carefully chosen. I was impressed to find Exponential Hoppiness, Pliny the Elder, Consecration and Coton all on tap, amongst others; like I said, well-rounded and high quality. Hopefully I'll get to revisit this place during a busier time of day and stay a bit longer the next time I'm in the area.
11-04-2010 05:00:44 |
More by largadeer
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I came here after a SD beer tour of Stone, San Marcos grill, and Ballast Point. Myself and 2 friends decided that this was the place we wanted to go to in downtown San Diego after our beer tour had finished. My friend got out his iPhone and we started walking toward the blinking blue dot. Well, this place isn't exactly on the street so after walking around the block a few times we realized that it is in a middle courtyard surrounded by buildings, and not at all visible from the street.
When we finally found the place we were literally the only 3 people in a bar that looked like it could hold 150+ people, this is on a Saturday afternoon too, weird. The beer list was really nice,they had a bunch of tap only stuff and beers that are not easy to come by, I got an Eric's Ale, after that, a friend and I split a bottle of Supplication. The bartender's were nice, knowledgeable, and attentive
There was a shuffleboard table, which is always fun and the other bar games you'd expect to find. It was a fun time and I hope to come back here.
10-11-2010 23:47:43 |
More by tjensen3618
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
Atmosphere - because this place is kinda hidden it really is a hole in the wall bar. Overall its a pretty decent sized place with seating outside and tables inside. Theres a few tvs around the place showing sports but they aren't in the way.
Quality/Selection - While there aren't that many taps here what they do have on tap is some quality stuff. On my last visit four of their like twelve taps were limited release beers. So pretty much theres always something on that you'll want to try.
Service - All of the bartenders and waitresses that have served me here have all been super cool and nice. They know what they are talking about here if you ask them something and are always quick.
Food - I've only eaten appetizers during my visits so far but they haven't disappointed me yet.
10-10-2010 19:42:10 |
More by armock
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Visiting San Diego specifically to hit some beer spots, I was lucky that DHB's was walking distance from the hotel. I hit DJB's around 2:30, and was one of only two or three folks in the entire bar.
While they don't have a tremendous number of taps, what they have is all great quality. Considering that the place didn't look like much, I had no expectations of the bartender. I was wrong wrong wrong. This bartender was one of the most knowledgeable I've met to date. He had a great, and accurate, knowledge of the selections on tap. I paid for a couple of pints, but I got to sample pretty much everything for free without asking. He suggested my first pint which I loved. From there he was pulling out their other varieties based on what he thought I'd like next.
I'd go back, and if you're in Downtown, it's a great place to go for a relaxed drink from a great list (which I assume rotates frequently) with no bad options.
09-24-2010 17:31:27 |
More by gwguest
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $
Summary: Downtown SD sports bar with a fair number of interesting taps and standard bar food.
Stopped in on a Thursday night and the place was empty. The location is somewhat hard to find, as it on the inside of a large city block and does not face a street. Atmosphere was a cross between college ratskeller and sports bar. Despite the location there was good outside air circulation. All the windows were open and it was another day in paradise in SD. Spend a good deal of time talking with my server about what was available, what they would drink, etc. Unfortunately, they were getting ready for their 23rd anniversary party and a number of the taps were unavailable until the next day. Regardless, of the 10 or so available, the selection was interesting, mostly local stuff, but a few from outside the area (e.g., Jolly Pumpkin Firefly). Certainly enough there to make me happy. I appreciated that they offer a 10 oz pour. Lets me try more and keep my wits, particularly when drinking high ABV brews. Foodwise, I ordered two one dollar fish tacos. Better than I expected given the price. The menu was uninteresting, mostly barfood: burgers, fries, salads, wings, etc.
Worth a second visit.
Note: Free wireless is available for those who are in need of a mobile office.
09-24-2010 12:30:13 |
More by LittleDon
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $
After my first full day in San Diego I stopped in, intending to get dinner after a few beers, ended up just having a lot of beers and bullshitting with the locals. I really enjoyed this place.
The atmosphere reminded me a lot of the few smaller bars I drank at in Laramie, WY in my college days. Lots of beer decorations, tap handles, neons, signs, etc. Also a fair amount of license plates, including a sweet mid 80's Wyoming plate, not to digress, but that made my day as soon as I walked in. Awesome music selection from the bartenders, a nice mix of modern rock and indie tunes. Very welcoming atmosphere too, everybody there was damn friendly, kind of like your local bar, but a thousand plus miles away. The most appealing part, it wasn't packed to the damn gills like everywhere else I went in San Diego. Very cool, mellow, calm place to sit down and bullshit and have a few pints.
Awesome quality/selection as well, insane beer selection on tap that I didn't even bother with asking about the bottles. 12 taps, mostly locals, and all beers that I thought I'd never see on tap. The first night I was in they had fresh Sculpin, Green Flash's Citra Session beer, as well as some Stone and Deschutes offerings on tap. The second night they had Alpine Duet and Port Mongo on tap, talk about a hop head's dream. Man. I do believe they had some BMC stuff, but really that didn't bother me.
Service was awesome, the same bartender was working each night I was there, and he hooked me up with tons of samples prior to ordering anything. Often making recommendations, and also incredibly friendly and wanting to just bs. Also he wasn't mad at all when I asked for my Mongo to be served in a snifter...which he let me purchase (delirium tremens glass). Very cool guy, sadly after my second pour of Mongo I to this day can't remember the guy's name.
I ate the second time I went by, and the portion was HUGE, I bet they gave me a pound of fries with my burger. The burger was pretty good, but nothing impressive.
The value of this place is great compared to everything else in downtown San Diego. My tab at the end of the first night after having 6 pints was $28 with the tip, and the night I got food I spent $24. Incredibly cheap for the area.
If you're in San Diego, go by. This place rocks, and has awesome beer on tap, not to mention its a nice change of pace from being around a shit load of people all the time like other places in downtown San Diego.
07-31-2010 02:24:24 |
More by pokesbeerdude
Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego, CA
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