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Beer, sports, and toddlers

Twisted, a bar for the whole family

Plenty on the plate, but this BBQ may be too sweet for some
Plenty on the plate, but this BBQ may be too sweet for some
Place

Twisted Taps Brews & Chews

2302 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Over the summer a new sports bar and restaurant opened in North Park, across from the Lafayette Hotel at the original corner location of Pomegranate, the Georgian restaurant that has since moved into a larger space a couple doors down.

Twisted Taps Brews & Chews derives its name from an early ownership affiliation with Twisted Manzanita, the Santee craft brewery that closed early last year.

The taplist and kid-friendly menu here must be a plus to young parents in the neighborhood.

While Twisted Manzanita beers don’t flow from this spot’s eponymous taps, plenty of local beers do. The combination of 24 beer handles and TVs tuned to sporting events go well with an enticing selection of pub snacks such as wings, stuffed jalapeños, BBQ-smothered tater tots, and bacon-wrapped coconut-fried shrimp.

The place also features pizza, hot sandwiches, and a few meaty salads, but I was there to check the BBQ. Twisted Taps smokes its own pork and beef, and the signature dish is the Twisted Plate, a classic BBQ concoction built around sides of baked beans, mac and cheese, and cornbread, plus a small salad.

I opted for the house-smoked brisket, an easier decision than which of the six local IPAs to drink with it. I settled on the Tropical & Juicy IPA made by Port Brewing’s Hop concept label, which lived up to its name.

I spotted only a bartender working, so I approached the bar to place my order. But she graciously waved me off and offered prompt table service. I grabbed a seat and caught a few minutes of a college bowl game while a toddler at the next table peeked at me shyly from behind her mother. I can’t say I know how hard it is to find a kid-friendly place to watch sports and drink beer, but the quality taplist and presence of a kid-friendly menu here must be a plus to young parents in the neighborhood.

The plate appeared quickly, looking like quite the full meal. A light breadcrumb crust gave the saucy macaroni some pleasant texture to go with its slightly nutty, cheesy appeal. It was my favorite part of the meal. The cornbread ran a bit on the dry side and wasn’t served with butter.

The brisket was sliced thin and dressed with BBQ sauce. On its own, the meat was tender and flavorful and the fat well distributed, with just enough smoke to make it interesting. I wasn’t as fond of the BBQ sauce, made after the thick and sweet Kansas City style. The brown sugar and/or molasses sweetness overpowered the smoke too much for my preference, and I would suggest anyone without a major sweet tooth request it on the side.

I might also have enjoyed it more had the beans not also been very sweet. Baked beans often skew this way, of course, but the combined sweetness of the two, plus the cornbread, left only the mac and salad to give any balance to the plate.

I still consider this better-than-average pub grub and, given the variety of the menu, I’m confident that both sports fans and families will find something to like about this well-lit sports bar.

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Plenty on the plate, but this BBQ may be too sweet for some
Plenty on the plate, but this BBQ may be too sweet for some
Place

Twisted Taps Brews & Chews

2302 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego

Over the summer a new sports bar and restaurant opened in North Park, across from the Lafayette Hotel at the original corner location of Pomegranate, the Georgian restaurant that has since moved into a larger space a couple doors down.

Twisted Taps Brews & Chews derives its name from an early ownership affiliation with Twisted Manzanita, the Santee craft brewery that closed early last year.

The taplist and kid-friendly menu here must be a plus to young parents in the neighborhood.

While Twisted Manzanita beers don’t flow from this spot’s eponymous taps, plenty of local beers do. The combination of 24 beer handles and TVs tuned to sporting events go well with an enticing selection of pub snacks such as wings, stuffed jalapeños, BBQ-smothered tater tots, and bacon-wrapped coconut-fried shrimp.

The place also features pizza, hot sandwiches, and a few meaty salads, but I was there to check the BBQ. Twisted Taps smokes its own pork and beef, and the signature dish is the Twisted Plate, a classic BBQ concoction built around sides of baked beans, mac and cheese, and cornbread, plus a small salad.

I opted for the house-smoked brisket, an easier decision than which of the six local IPAs to drink with it. I settled on the Tropical & Juicy IPA made by Port Brewing’s Hop concept label, which lived up to its name.

I spotted only a bartender working, so I approached the bar to place my order. But she graciously waved me off and offered prompt table service. I grabbed a seat and caught a few minutes of a college bowl game while a toddler at the next table peeked at me shyly from behind her mother. I can’t say I know how hard it is to find a kid-friendly place to watch sports and drink beer, but the quality taplist and presence of a kid-friendly menu here must be a plus to young parents in the neighborhood.

The plate appeared quickly, looking like quite the full meal. A light breadcrumb crust gave the saucy macaroni some pleasant texture to go with its slightly nutty, cheesy appeal. It was my favorite part of the meal. The cornbread ran a bit on the dry side and wasn’t served with butter.

The brisket was sliced thin and dressed with BBQ sauce. On its own, the meat was tender and flavorful and the fat well distributed, with just enough smoke to make it interesting. I wasn’t as fond of the BBQ sauce, made after the thick and sweet Kansas City style. The brown sugar and/or molasses sweetness overpowered the smoke too much for my preference, and I would suggest anyone without a major sweet tooth request it on the side.

I might also have enjoyed it more had the beans not also been very sweet. Baked beans often skew this way, of course, but the combined sweetness of the two, plus the cornbread, left only the mac and salad to give any balance to the plate.

I still consider this better-than-average pub grub and, given the variety of the menu, I’m confident that both sports fans and families will find something to like about this well-lit sports bar.

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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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