2990 Jamacha Road #120, Rancho San Diego
I know what you’re thinking, and, yes, I really am recommending a suburban strip-mall sports bar. But let’s be fair about this. After all, what is Rancho San Diego if not one contiguous shopping center interspersed with tract housing, equestrian crosswalks, and golf courses?
While it may lack the uptown flair of 30th Street’s craft-brew monuments, Press Box is a viable alternative for denizens east of Lemon Grove and — offering over 100 beers, including 30+ on rotating taps from local breweries such as Manzanita, Coronado, Ballast Point, Alesmith, and Stone — it easily outshines any sports bar for at least ten miles in any direction.
Of course, you’ll also get all the headache that comes with an entire unincorporated community modeling itself after a Spanish Colonial consumer purgatory — things like ever-full parking lots, apathetic servers (bartender Kelly is awesome, however), and a clientele made up of a painfully accurate cross-section of the locals. Which is to say, loudmouthed young Republican Fox Racing bros, sulky suburban brats with decoy cleavage, and bourgeois tennis dorks — though, on the bright side, you’re also likely to have an impromptu chuckle with the dapper Chaldean businessmen smoking on the patio and Cuyamaca College kids who stopped in for a quickie and never quite made it back to class.
Perhaps the best way to get a feel for the place is on second Thursdays, when $25 buys a flight of beer and unlimited eats from the kitchen, which is overseen by veteran chef Jesus Frias. If you’re lucky, the cask tap may even be firing, though lately it’s been restricted to sporadic Saturdays.
If grapes are more your flavor, stop by every last Thursday for a $10 tasting from Press Box’s 65+ wines (including selections from J Pilar Winery down Highway 94 in Jamul) with cheese pairings and live jazz.
The bar also offers a full range of liquor, with rather generic “specialty” cocktails running $8–10 and martinis at $10.
If you’re in it for cheap grub, go for $1 street tacos every Tuesday from 3 to 9 p.m. The tacos are small but cooked fresh on the patio and remarkably authentic. A few $3 wells later, you may even forget that you’re hanging out in the diamond studded anus of the New World.
Hours: MONDAY–THURSDAY, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.; FRIDAY and SATURDAY, 11 a.m.–midnight; SUNDAY 9:30 a.m.–11 p.m.
Happy: MONDAY–FRIDAY, 4 to 7 P.M., half-off appetizers, $1 off drafts, house wine, and wells