Beer and Burger at Half Door Brewing Company- San Diego (Downtown)
Where: 903 Island Avenue San Diego, California 92101
Cost: Pints $7.00 | Imported Bottles $6.00-$9.00 | Cocktails $10.00-$11.00 | Spirits $7.00-$18.00 | Costs are reduced during Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 4-6pm
Appetizers $8.00-$15.00 | Salads $7.00-$11.00 | Main Dishes $9.00-$17.00 | Desserts $7.00 | Happy Hour bar snacks $5.00-$9.00
About: Half Door Brewing Company was opened in January 2015 by the Drayne Family, Irish hospitalitists well-know in San Diego for their popular restaurant, The Field Irish Pub, over on 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp District. Half Door is a family-run brewpub located in a refurbished circa-1900s house in San Diego’s East Village district. A block from Petco Park Stadium it is one of five craft breweries operating in downtown San Diego.
Set over two floors, Half Door has the feel of a quirky Irish village pub with its authentic décor and traditional bar forming the interior design. It specializes in comfort food and house-brewed craft beer. However, the bar also serves cocktails and maintains a large collection of spirits.
The lunch I ordered (burger and beer) cost $21.00 plus tax (8%). Half Door is doing well for only being open nine months, and when I was there on a Friday at noon it was already getting crowded. Fortunately, there is plenty of room to spread out the crowd, including upstairs on the big deck with its great view of Petco Park and San Diego sky scrapers.
Daniel Drayne, co-owner (with sister Stacy) and brewmaster, brews Half Door house beers on a 10-barrel system which occupies part of the building. The brewhouse is on two levels, viewable through straterically-placed windows.
What I ate: I ordered the HDBC Burger ($14.00) which comes with a big pile of French fries. The beef patty comes dressed with a slab of softened Irish white cheddar, butter lettuce, an oven-roasted tomato, pickled red onions, and a huge dollop of truffle aioli, sandwiched in a fresh-baked, lightly toasted bun. I wanted it cooked medium-rare, and that is precisely how it was served. This burger was juicy and flavorful. No wonder it is one of the favorites on the menu.
What I drank: I had a pint of Half Door Pale (5.4% ABV) along with the burger. This brew is quite hoppy for the Pale Ale style, and to me tastes more like a West Coast-style IPA. Regardless, it is a tasty beer and paired well with the amazing burger.
Likes: The hamburger stole the show for this lunch. Although pricey, it was well worth it and I am already planning a return to devour another one. I’ve been on a beer and burger search lately, and so far, this is the best one I’ve tasted.
The brewery-fresh beer is well-made and well priced, and even better priced at Happy Hour ($5.00). I like how the chef works closely with the brewmaster to develop beer and food pairing dishes that complement each other.
I also like the traditional décor of Half Door and the design of the building. On sunny days and warm nights the upper deck offers outdoor seating with an open sky and beautiful views of the city. When the weather is drizzly or it’s too cold to sit outside (rare in San Diego) there are comfortable places indoors to quaff and eat, and still have street views.
Service is excellent at the brewpub. Servers are friendly, attentive, and efficient.
Dislikes: It’s not their fault, but parking is a hassle, like any place in downtown San Diego. If you must drive, be careful where you park as parking tickets are expensive.
Verdict: Highly recommended. A wonderful place for well-made craft beer and cocktails. Like their menu says, Half Door “is the ultimate pairing of inventive comfort food and exceptional house-brewed beer.”