Out on Shelter Island, at the end of a pier, lies an unassuming gem of a joint, Fathom Bistro.
It’s an incredibly charming and beautiful setting for drinking and eating. It’s crusty old sailor/dive bar ambiance with fine dining views. As you look out across the harbor, downtown San Diego comes into spectacular focus.
They also sell bait and tackle, so be sure to bring along your fishing pole.
With 15 well-curated taps, there is guaranteed to be something that’ll satisfy any particular craft brew craving. Jac had the Stiegl Radler, and I had Pliny the Elder, consistently ranked as one of the world’s best beers. It’s referenced so often that its availability might be mistaken as ubiquitous and bountiful, but it is in fact relatively rare. It’s available almost exclusively in California (a couple bars in Philadelphia have it from time to time), and it’s not all that easy to find it in bars or bottle shops. It’s a meticulously crafted double IPA. At 8.0% ABV, it’s incredibly smooth with little to no hints of booziness. It’s mind-blowingly floral and piney in its aroma. It tastes of lemongrass, grapefruit, lemon zest, and intense hoppy bitterness. It’s in a class all its own.
The Fathom Burger was a no-frills classic: topped with cheddar, tomatoes, red onions, and the hallmark of any burger worth recognition, shredded lettuce. We also tried their fried shrimp po’ boy, smothered in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, tomatoes, cheese, and, yes, shredded lettuce. It was easily the highlight, and it was the perfect complement to the chilly air and the cold beer.
The iconic (well, to us anyway) San Diego skyline.
While this place might be nestled in among some of San Diego’s most touristy locales, it gives off a distinct “locals only” vibe, and if you’re from San Diego (or even if you’re not), it’s hard not to feel at home here.
Black Market Brewing Company’s tasting room and brewery is located in Temecula, a little less than an hour’s drive from downtown San Diego. It’s an easy and cheerful drive up the I-15 that takes you through those little mountains filled with boulders that make up the backside of Camp Pendleton. We feel it’s the perfect excursion for a random weekend day, when you need a change of scenery and a delicious brew.
It’s airy and open and has the thirst-inducing scent of yeast and hops floating through it’s cool interior.
Their tasting room offerings are not limited to tasters and pints, but also include growlers and bombers.
They organize your flight selection for you based on the order in which they should be tasted.
It was Black Market’s hefeweizen that drew us out here in the first place. Their take on the classic Bavarian-style brew is one of the finest American examples of the popular style. Their version is immediately recognizable as a hef: some malty sweetness, notes of banana, clove, coriander, and a faint citrus-y tartness.
With the flight option, we are able to sample quite a few different beers. Here are our thoughts:
Invasion Imperial Red Ale: Fantastic. Caramel-y sweet maltiness, balanced out by a pleasantly bitter finish. Very smooth and easy drinking.
Aftermath American Pale Ale: Initially very piney and resinous, but citrus-like bitterness emerges. A nice, refreshing pale ale that gets better as it sits a little bit.
Saison Mandarina: Pretty straightforward saison, but a little less funk than one might expect. Bready, grassy notes are complemented by some citrus sweetness and hints of spice.
D-Day IPA: A surprisingly great IPA. Bubble gum, tutti frutti, and grapefruit notes are all clearly present. Very drinkable.
Liberation Imperial IPA: A solid DIPA/IIPA. Nice clementine sweetness and lemon zestiness are brought into balance by strong, but pleasant, bitter finish.
Revolution Oatmeal Stout: Roasty and chocolate-y, but restrained. Silky mouthfeel. A very elegant stout.
Our favorite beer may be their 1945 Berliner Weisse. It’s not a very popular style, but their incarnation of the tart wheat beer is spectacular. It’s incredibly tart, but stops just sort of mouth-puckering, and it has an incredibly refreshing wheatiness.
They are open Monday – Thursday 4-9 pm and Friday – Sunday 1-9 pm at
41740 ENTERPRISE CIRCLE N, #109
On the way back, if you normally take the 5, may we suggest using the 76 highway to head back west? It’s an oak-lined road with beautiful meadow views that cannot be missed, if you’ve never driven through there before. It’s Old Southern California at its best.
Little India has long been one of San Diego’s top neighborhoods for nightlife, but in recent years/months it has undergone a bit of a revitalization. New shops and restaurants have popped up, supplementing some of the neighborhood mainstays. Most of the action has historically been situated on India St., between Date St. and Grape St., but some of the best new spots in the area lie just a bit north, on the other side of Hawthorn. Trendy Mexican restaurant, El Camino, deserves credit for injecting some life into this end of the neighborhood, as does the relatively new bottle shop, Bottlecraft.
One of the newest additions to this little hip-strip of India St. is Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen. Ballast Point is of the nation’s premier craft breweries. Their Sculpin India Pale Ale (IPA) won the Gold Medal at the World Beer Cup in 2010, and they are the recipients of myriad other awards for their innovative and meticulously crafted brews.
This location features a 50-tap system, with a dazzling array of beers available. They update their taplist on their website with some regularity, so check it out before you go to get an idea of what you might like. They have all of their year-round offerings available, as well as wild variations on old favorites (for example, Ballast Point Thai Ginger Chili Lime Wahoo Wheat).
I had the burger and fries. The burger, in my opinion, tends to be an excellent barometer of an eating establishment’s overall merit. Ballast Point’s burger indicated that a second visit would be very much in order. It was straightforward in its presentation, without extraneous accouterments, and it was cooked to perfection (just on the rare side of medium rare). The fries had the requisite crunch and retained all the flavor of that delicious oil. I paired it with Ballast Point’s version of a saison, Brother Levonian. It represented the style well: prominent banana, clove, and yeasty notes. This saison was rounded out by a nice citrus sweetness that lingered on the palate for just a moment. Four stars out of five, in my estimation.
Jaclyn had the calamari. It was tossed in blue cornmeal crust and served with lemon arrabbiata sauce and sweet aioli. She paired it with the Ballast Point Thai Ginger Chili Lime Wahoo Wheat; they complemented each other beautifully.
The Doppelbock and Victory At Sea were the perfect “digestifs,” so to speak. Both were high in alcohol, yet smooth, with little carbonation. The Doppelbock tasted like raisin bread, caramelized, apricots, and roasted almonds. The world-renowned Victory At Sea was simply outstanding. It’s an incredibly complex beer, yet each tasting note makes itself abundantly clear. Coffee, chocolate, oak, vanilla and toasted coconut all shone through; it’s a sublime imperial porter.
It can’t be understated how wonderful this new tasting room and kitchen is. That may sound like a rather grand proclamation, but the place has a very understated and comfortable vibe, while simultaneously supplying patrons with the fare of a slightly upper scale establishment. It feels reminiscent of the trendy fast casual joints proliferating throughout the nation’s foodie scene, but Ballast Point makes the concept their own. Their primary focus is beer, of course, and they brew it better than most. Their bartenders are more than happy to imbue imbibers with their vast knowledge of their craft, and the result is a congenial atmosphere marked by knowledge and appreciation for one of San Diego’s proudest and finest contributions to the world: beer.
We recommend this as the perfect place to take an out of town visitor upon picking them up from the airport!
We were very excited, yet slightly jealous to find out Young Hickory was a coffee and beer joint. We sort of wish we had opened this place, since it combines two of our favorite things. Darn these cool people and their good ideas.
The atmosphere is clean and crisp, yet warm and inviting.
A few quirks, like this golden cow on the beginnings of what will surely be an impressive sticker wall, make it feel like a comfortable neighborhood mainstay.
As far as the beer goes, they offer a nice range of canned craft beer, and on the coffee side they offer a nice range of espresso drinks and drip coffee (proudly serving Bird Rock Coffee, one of San Diego’s best roasters). They also have an impressive assortment of panini-pressed sandwiches, salads, and baked goodies.
The offerings affirm the casual atmosphere. We didn’t hesitate to order the house special, A Shot & A Beer, and plop down to do some work.
It’s an ideal spot for working on a college paper or creating new blog posts 🙂
We at Ivy Street love good merchandise and merchandising. The branding has the color, design and typeface that just makes you feel all warm and vintage-y inside.
We are especially fond of the mugs and the beer koozies.
So get down to this spot for some casual friend gossip or camp out with your laptop for a homework sesh.