Boom! Liquor lockers (above)
If ever there were a compelling reason for San Diegans to hang out in Old Town, it’s Home & Away at the former location of Kelly’s Pub. For about two years now, locals and tourists alike have been wandering into this one-of-few spots in the neighborhood that isn’t a theme-park attraction masquerading as a bar/restaurant. What they find is a sports bar, a smokehouse (slow-cooked pork and chicken), and a dog and family-friendly neighborhood pub run by North Park native Dennis O’Connor, aka San Diego Taxman, who you may recognize as the guy behind Thorn Street Brewery and Shore Rider Bar & Grill.
2222 San Diego Avenue, San Diego
As you might expect, Home & Away has a pretty solid grip on craft beer. On a recent visit, when the stereo played just about every tune off the Forrest Gump soundtrack, the rotating selection of 22 mostly local taps included standouts 21st Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat, Thorn Street’s Barrio Mexican Lager, and Modern Times’ Fruitlands. The cocktail menu ($6 happy), meanwhile, features classics with a twist alongside newer concoctions such as the Smokey Porsche (Jägermeister, mezcal, lemon, raspberry) and Penicillin (Laphroaig Mist, lemon, ginger, honey).
Mismatched stained wood and warm lighting lend a clean, approachable ambiance. Sharing corners with a shrine to local golf hero Phil Mickelson, you’ll find Home & Away’s unique liquor locker arrangement. So, here’s the deal: buy two bottles from the bar at $300 and then pay $100/month for a roughly 18-by-12-inch locker and you can join the proud ranks of Mickelson and someone known only as Dizzle (according to their placard), who have already given their favorite fifths a home away from home. Get it? Sports. Lockers. Home & Away. Yeah.
In the back, you can play pinball, arcade games, darts, and foosball. Continue to the giant outdoor drinking corral for ping pong, XXL Jenga, murals by Fizix, and a kids’ area. The kitchen serves up passable pub fare along the lines of burgers, wings, nachos, tacos, pulled pork, and banana pancakes. A few $9 entrées of note: the McDank Burger with a 1/3-lb. patty, aged cheddar, white onion, and pickles on brioche; a decadent grilled provolone, brie, and gruyère with roasted tomato spread and basil on sourdough; three blackened shrimp tacos with the usual fixin’s. There’s nothing all too mind-blowing about the dining menu, but, this is a sports bar, and it’s still a cut above Old Town average.
- Prices: craft cocktails, $9; wine, $8; pints, $4–$7; bottles, $3–$6
- Food: Burgers, wings, wedges, surf & turf burritos, 12-hour smoked pulled-pork sandwiches, chicken tenders, banana pancakes with pecan bourbon syrup, and more
- Hours: 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m. daily; during football season open 10 a.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Sunday
- Happy: 3 p.m.–7 p.m., Monday–Friday; $1 off drafts and wine, $6 cocktails
- Parking: Plenty of parking in lot out front
- Capacity: Inside, ABOUT 75; patio, ABOUT 150
- Events: Comedy night first and third Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
- The Deal: Taco Tuesday, $2.50 tacos, Pacificos, and tequila shots, 3 p.m.–midnight