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!