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Pillbox Tavern's good look, cold beer, and typical eats

Solana Beach bar and grill puts a nice face on a good location, even though the menu's a bit dated.

Place

Pillbox Tavern

118 W. Plaza Street, Solana Beach

Steak tips with garlic bread

No big-name design firm attached itself to Solana Beach’s Pillbox Tavern, but the group that opened the bar and grill includes plenty of restaurant industry vets, and their collective expertise turned out a nice looking restaurant. They call the place “retro modern,” which fits with the blue neon and refurb wood look.

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Competent, friendly staffers and a not-too-boisterous crowd make the place into a more laid-back alternative to nearby Saddle Bar (both bars share an owner), though the smallish size means it gets crowded without even trying. A fair selection of beers on tap should quench anybody’s thirst.

Pillbox succumbs to the same mysterious force that compels North County towards dated bar food. With coconut shrimp, quirky cocktails, blackened seasoning, and mahi (with some form of mango slaw) on one side; quesadillas, wings, chili, and burgers on the other; it’s as if someone threw Trader Vic’s and Hooters into a bag and shook vigorously.

It wouldn’t be fair to hang Pillbox out to dry in the name of an entire food scene. Their food is on the tasty side of average, with the garlicky steak tips and Old Bay chicken wings standing out, but why not catch up on the past couple decades of restaurant culture when you had the chance?

Coconut shrimp is the molten chocolate cake of appetizers: good, clean fun 1997, but we’re sick of seeing it these days. Pillbox has a cool look, and nice people, so why not branch out with the food a bit? It’s good enough, but, come on, North County, surprise us a little.

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Place

Pillbox Tavern

118 W. Plaza Street, Solana Beach

Steak tips with garlic bread

No big-name design firm attached itself to Solana Beach’s Pillbox Tavern, but the group that opened the bar and grill includes plenty of restaurant industry vets, and their collective expertise turned out a nice looking restaurant. They call the place “retro modern,” which fits with the blue neon and refurb wood look.

Sponsored
Sponsored

Competent, friendly staffers and a not-too-boisterous crowd make the place into a more laid-back alternative to nearby Saddle Bar (both bars share an owner), though the smallish size means it gets crowded without even trying. A fair selection of beers on tap should quench anybody’s thirst.

Pillbox succumbs to the same mysterious force that compels North County towards dated bar food. With coconut shrimp, quirky cocktails, blackened seasoning, and mahi (with some form of mango slaw) on one side; quesadillas, wings, chili, and burgers on the other; it’s as if someone threw Trader Vic’s and Hooters into a bag and shook vigorously.

It wouldn’t be fair to hang Pillbox out to dry in the name of an entire food scene. Their food is on the tasty side of average, with the garlicky steak tips and Old Bay chicken wings standing out, but why not catch up on the past couple decades of restaurant culture when you had the chance?

Coconut shrimp is the molten chocolate cake of appetizers: good, clean fun 1997, but we’re sick of seeing it these days. Pillbox has a cool look, and nice people, so why not branch out with the food a bit? It’s good enough, but, come on, North County, surprise us a little.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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