Quantcast
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

Passport for global beer travel

El Cajon's Main Tap, indeed

Main Tap offers a passport for global beer travel. - Image by Chris Woo
Main Tap offers a passport for global beer travel.
Place

Main Tap Tavern

518 E. Main Street, El Cajon

Main Tap Tavern is home to one of the oldest remaining liquor licenses in East County, but it wasn’t until about seven years ago that the location (which, though modern by every appearance, is so old that an earthquake notice is posted at the front door cautioning of its timeworn masonry) brought artisanal beer en masse to the historically macro-dominated basin of El Cajon.

Just blocks from the ill-fated El Cajon Brewing Company, which filed for bankruptcy and closed doors in 2013, Main Tap Tavern stands as a monument to select hops and hard-to-pronounce imports among a sea of Coors-by-the-pitcher dives. While new neighbors URBN St. Brewing Co. put the area on San Diego’s fermentation map, Main Tap curates a rotating cast of 24 international crafts poured from hand-blown glass pulls.

Despite its tenure, one senses that the concept is still foreign to a number of the locals. A glossary of terms on the back of the menu acquaints the nascent craft drinker with the function of malt, yeast, and hops. Then a “passport” card system entreats visitors to diversify their palate with new beers, offering discount incentives along the way and climaxing with a VIP placard on the wall when you reach 50. The bait is pungent. About 350 VIPs have already made the grade (some multiple times) and now enjoy $3.50 pours on Mondays and Sundays in addition to appetizer specials. The kitchen dishes out reasonable bar fare that is agreeable though not amazing for the price point.

The crowd is a proper cross-section of downtown El Cajon. Lawyers take extended lunch breaks over cocktails, putting off appointments at the nearby courthouse. Out back on the vast patio, 20-somethings smoke cigarettes around a fire pit and fuel the jukebox with nu-metal and cheesy metalcore. Connoisseurs come out on Wednesdays for the weekly cask-tapping at 3 p.m. Others seem to have stumbled upon the place in the same manner that Jed Clampett discovered oil and are now logging their first Flemish reds and saisons on a passport card. Employees and owners of the neighboring Middle Eastern markets, meanwhile, can be found poking in to drink, without any indication of irony, the most American beer of them all: Budweiser. Regardless, Main Tap proves that craft beer is in El Cajon to stay, and, thanks to their time-honored license, you can choose from 30 bottled staples and rarities to take home.


  • Capacity: 75
  • Prices: Pints, $5+; Cocktails $4.50+
  • Hours: Mon–Fri, 11am–2am; Sat–Sun, 12pm–2am
  • Happy: Tues–Fri, 3–6pm, $4.50 appetizers; daily food, shot, and VIP beer specials
  • Kitchen: Mon–Fri, 11am–10pm; Sat, 12pm–12am; Sun, 10am–8pm
  • Parking: Secure lot behind bar on Roanoke Avenue
  • The Deal: $3.50 shots with pint purchase
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Santa Ana winds bring San Diego's driest days; where to cool off; best view of Mars till 2033

Natural San Diego, September 28-October 4
Main Tap offers a passport for global beer travel. - Image by Chris Woo
Main Tap offers a passport for global beer travel.
Place

Main Tap Tavern

518 E. Main Street, El Cajon

Main Tap Tavern is home to one of the oldest remaining liquor licenses in East County, but it wasn’t until about seven years ago that the location (which, though modern by every appearance, is so old that an earthquake notice is posted at the front door cautioning of its timeworn masonry) brought artisanal beer en masse to the historically macro-dominated basin of El Cajon.

Just blocks from the ill-fated El Cajon Brewing Company, which filed for bankruptcy and closed doors in 2013, Main Tap Tavern stands as a monument to select hops and hard-to-pronounce imports among a sea of Coors-by-the-pitcher dives. While new neighbors URBN St. Brewing Co. put the area on San Diego’s fermentation map, Main Tap curates a rotating cast of 24 international crafts poured from hand-blown glass pulls.

Despite its tenure, one senses that the concept is still foreign to a number of the locals. A glossary of terms on the back of the menu acquaints the nascent craft drinker with the function of malt, yeast, and hops. Then a “passport” card system entreats visitors to diversify their palate with new beers, offering discount incentives along the way and climaxing with a VIP placard on the wall when you reach 50. The bait is pungent. About 350 VIPs have already made the grade (some multiple times) and now enjoy $3.50 pours on Mondays and Sundays in addition to appetizer specials. The kitchen dishes out reasonable bar fare that is agreeable though not amazing for the price point.

The crowd is a proper cross-section of downtown El Cajon. Lawyers take extended lunch breaks over cocktails, putting off appointments at the nearby courthouse. Out back on the vast patio, 20-somethings smoke cigarettes around a fire pit and fuel the jukebox with nu-metal and cheesy metalcore. Connoisseurs come out on Wednesdays for the weekly cask-tapping at 3 p.m. Others seem to have stumbled upon the place in the same manner that Jed Clampett discovered oil and are now logging their first Flemish reds and saisons on a passport card. Employees and owners of the neighboring Middle Eastern markets, meanwhile, can be found poking in to drink, without any indication of irony, the most American beer of them all: Budweiser. Regardless, Main Tap proves that craft beer is in El Cajon to stay, and, thanks to their time-honored license, you can choose from 30 bottled staples and rarities to take home.


  • Capacity: 75
  • Prices: Pints, $5+; Cocktails $4.50+
  • Hours: Mon–Fri, 11am–2am; Sat–Sun, 12pm–2am
  • Happy: Tues–Fri, 3–6pm, $4.50 appetizers; daily food, shot, and VIP beer specials
  • Kitchen: Mon–Fri, 11am–10pm; Sat, 12pm–12am; Sun, 10am–8pm
  • Parking: Secure lot behind bar on Roanoke Avenue
  • The Deal: $3.50 shots with pint purchase
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

No delay for deletion of parking on 30th Street

City cycling manager swears the mayor’s order doesn’t make it official
Next Article

Gerry Braun gives to boss Mara Elliott

Lorena Gonzalez gets $500K from unions to fight Uber
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close