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Taps: 42 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 22 | Reviews: 20 | Show All Ratings:
4.38/5 rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
This place is owned by the Hamilton's Tavern crew. We went to three of their places during our visit, of which three were totally awesome.
Small Bar is aptly named, a little dark even at mid day despite the opening to outdoor seating. There is a long L-shaped bar, a smallish area with high tops and tables and some outdoor seating. We opted for stools at the bar. Service was quick and personable.
The tap list was deep in excellent West Coast beers. The challenge was choosing the couple we would have before moving on. I could easily have spent the whole day, and part of the next.
Food was among the best we had in San Diego. Fried pickles (sliced, then battered and fried; usually they don't slice them around here), small tacos, chicken sliders, all delicious.
A great local bar, and a place I'd love to visit again.
11-18-2011 20:57:49 | More by sholland119
4.22/5 rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
This place was recommended by a bunch of local BAs so I decided to stop by during a recent trip to San Diego. This place is located in a really nice neighborhood on what seemed like a pretty busy street with other shops and restaurants.
As the name implies, this place is kind of small but they have a few tables outside with additional seating. Small L shaped bar with high tops and regular tables lining the perimeter. A slightly younger crowd that is slightly hipster but there is a really cool vibe here and they play very good music. We stopped in for a quick drink after dinner and ended up staying for a few hours.
We didn't order any food here but the service at the bar was pretty good. Both bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable and even the dude checking IDs out front was surprisingly pleasant.
The selection was good but not amazing. I was expecting to get a bunch of new ticks but I ignored most of those beers for uber fresh, local IPAs. Options included Sculpin, Speedway, AleSmith IPA, Iron Fist, Mission, Anderson Valley Mokeef Saison, SN Ruthless Rye, Telegraph and many more. Nothing too rare but a wide variety and lots of the classics. A really fun place to enjoy good beers with friends.
01-19-2012 02:10:33 | More by corby112
4.6/5 rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA was on tap and I enjoyed this narrow bar, including the cool hallway-entry. Unisex bathroom isn't so cool though, well, according to the ladies.
Great tap selection that is comparable (but a notch short) of the best beer bars in town. Loud music, trendy crowd with money, and very colorful decor make this a nice little place. Nice, mellow neighborhood overall though parking was a challenge.
Food is not rated but the adjacent patrons were eating and it all looked very appetizing with generous portions, including the Belgian-like frites. Bartenders were alright.
04-02-2010 03:05:30 | More by yemenmocha
4.34/5 rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | $$
Stopped in here for the first time on Friday night with a few friends. According to my roommate, Small Bar and Hamilton's are under the same ownership.
Small Bar is my kind of joint. Though crowded, our group was easily able to carry on conversations; no blaring music or obnoxious drunks. High ceilings and open windows kept the indoor temperature relatively cool. Beer and liquor memorabilia hung from the walls. The bartenders were very attentive and polite. And, oh yeah, the beer selection was phenomenal!
About that beer selection: expect to wide variety of beer styles, with a strong focus on hoppy ales and sours (perfect for a warm, San Diego night). On draft, I saw several Flanders red ales, a few wild ales (including Consecration), a Berlinner Weisse, and a host of local IPAs, imperial IPAs, etc. I stared at the list for quite awhile, eventually settling on a Hop Rod Rye. While I didn't examine the bottle list, there was really no need to; the tap list had everything I could possibly want.
As a new San Diego resident (I've only been here for a week at this point), I know I'll be cruising back to Small Bar many times in the future. This bar probably suits younger people (under thirty) more than older, but if you've never been, make sure to give Small Bar a try!
07-17-2011 23:50:10 | More by ThreeWiseMen
4.36/5 rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Second stop on my recent trip to San Diego, this came as a recommendation from BAs on the forums.
Great atmosphere, Small Bar is indeed small, but it's not tiny. There are a few tables outside for sipping a beer while soaking up San Diego's dang near perfect weather, and seating for about 30 people inside. It's dark, with quirky decor, and a great jukebox. The only problem, they have only one bathroom.
Quality is very good, all the taps were full of excellent beers.
Service was good, I was quickly acknowledged and served.
Selection was impressive for such a small place, they had everything from locals to Belgians, strong beers to lighter lagers.
I didn't have any food, but someone sitting next to me did, and it looked wonderful.
Prices were fair, I had a pint of Sculpin for $5, about what I'd pay for a comparable beer at home.
Overall this is a fantastic place. If I had more time on this trip, I would have made a return visit, maybe 3.
08-09-2011 03:59:39 | More by flexabull
4.14/5 rDev -4.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
"Smallish" bar in University heights, the room is about the same size as Monkey paw.
Easy on-street parking, a few tables out front, and you enter from a side door/hallway, past the demonic-looking elephant logo on the door.
The standard chaulkboard held what I counted to be about 40 taps, a bit hard to read unless directly in front of you. A mix of communal and bar-height tables, and of course some room at the bar. Nice bar staff at this place, at least two of them asked a couple of times what we would like or if we would like another. Just the basics, but hell it counts for a lot when other places treat you like a lepper.
A good mix on the taps, nothing mind-blowing on our visit though. Plenty of hop-forwards as expected in SoCal, with some stouts, porters, and Belgians mixed in.
Black and red decor, and there was a serious mix coming out of the jukebox. Quite loud fairly crowded.
This one would be a repeat, good peeps and a very good selection.
10-12-2011 00:31:23 | More by brewandbbq
4.45/5 rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
visited on 27 Feb 10:
A not-large bar located a few blocks away from the big bar scene over on 30th. Looks like a standard dive bar from the street. Inside keeps the theme up, but appearances can be deceiving.
One of the reasons my fiancee and I went was the mention of whiskey in the recommendation we were given. We were not disappointed -- a good selection.
The other reason we went was the food. We had the charcuterie plate, which was great, to start. We split a Hamilton's burger and some fried pickles for the meal. The burger was awesome -- we had them put their Satan slaw on it. We were warned that it was hot, including a mention of ghost chilis. Delicious and extremely spicy.
The beer selection was great -- several selections from Anchor and DFH, PtE, some Avery, and a mix of other brews, including some Belgians. Service, selection, and quality were all well above average. Definitely a place I'd go back to.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the elephants.
03-01-2010 01:39:25 | More by ocmpoma
New Brunswick (Canada)
4.45/5 rDev +2.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Dropped by (for what ended up to be 3 hours) on a Tuesday night around 7 pm...
A: Yep, it's small, but as the reviewer below noted, not TINY. Long bar, tables scatted along the side, and a small deck. The place was completely packed, but had a great vibe when I was there. Not douchey at all, everyone into great beers. Awesome jukebox.
Q + Selection: Lots of awesome taps; I had four in all, and they all tasted fantastic. Looks like they rotate very often (I can see why with a crowd like this).
Service: Pretty fine. Sat at the bar for two beers and then moved to a table. The first bartender passed us off to someone else, who ended up being friendly enough, if not overly chatty (they were very busy). One guy chewed out my brother for accidentally walking into the keg room.
Value: Seemed pretty good to me.
O: One of my favorite bars in SD, and easily one of the top ones in terms of atmosphere.
09-27-2011 21:44:53 | More by berley31
4.16/5 rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I jaunted over to Small Bar shortly a few months ago. The buzz about the place, both here on BA and offline, had been brewing for a few weeks. I drove down and easily found the red and black painted building. I guess they kept the color theme from the last business at this location, but it works.
First thing I noticed was that the name is fitting, this is a small bar. However small, there is plenty of room for quite a few people to pack into this place. Nice seating options, bar, booth and tables. We grabbed a spot and I jockeyed at the bar for a few drinks.
I found quite a long list of beers to chose from. I don't remember anything about bottles, and honestly I didn't even look, because there were 42 draft beers to chose from. A very Hamilton's-esque selection. Some usual favorites were present. A nice grouping of Anchor beers, also.
There were so many options and so little time. I only had the chance to have a few beers, but can't wait to get back and try some of their cocktails and food, as well. The menu looks great. I also saw they have a brunch menu and that food looks great, too.
Overall, this place was well put together food menu and far reaching options for drinks, including scotch, beer and cocktails. I can't wait to make it back and back again.
01-03-2010 17:08:15 | More by d0ggnate
4.47/5 rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Craft beer and a poster of Roky Erickson...what more do you want?
The beers they have vary from your typical San Diegan AleSmith/Stone/Ballast Point/etc to classic Belgians (St Feullien, Chimay, etc). They also offer mixed beverages, which I have not had.
I've been to Small Bar twice now, both times for brunch, which they do very well. $15 gets you a big plate of good food and a drink. Their Bloody Mary's are impressive! I haven't had more than a sip of one, but what I had I liked. Their Biscuits and Gravy are outstanding, and the Green Eggs and Ham was also quite good.
My only problem is the fact that it is SO small. I think only 70 people would fill them up to capacity. It's cool if it's slow and the middle of the day, but if you're planning on going there at night be prepared to feel like a sardine.
05-03-2010 19:15:51 | More by radshoesbro
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Small Bar in San Diego, CA
94 out of 100 based on 22 user ratings.