The Tractor Room: “Honest Cocktails and Meats” in Hillcrest [CLOSED]

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Tractor San Diego

Hash House A Go Go's owners pivot to dinner and cocktails at their spinoff.

Johnny Rivera and Chef Andy Beardslee have built a dedicated following with Hash House A Go Go, their Hillcrest comfort food emporium with Flintstones-sized portions. A little over two years ago, the duo opened The Tractor Room down the street, specializing in “honest cocktails and meats.” We were intrigued by the wild boar stew and venison meatloaf, but already had dinner plans, so we had to settle for starters and cocktails.

The décor was hyper masculine, kind of like a hunting lodge, with plenty of dark wood and a sprawling elk antler chandelier. Naturally shed in Montana, of course. No tractor room would be complete without a tractor, and there’s a fine specimen out front.

The Tractor Room might be San Diego’s leading practitioner of mixology. Rivera created almost all of the signature cocktails in the stunning “cocktail library.” Bartender Brett said that what separates mixology from bartending is “more pride and love.” It’s clear that he included plenty of both into his cocktails. Every day, The Tractor Room bartenders make fresh syrups, cut fresh fruit and stuff olives with blue cheese. They even craft orange and lemon peel “twists.”

Cocktails San Diego

An original Brett creation, the Bloody Bullet ($9), featured fresh muddled blood orange with blood orange bitters, ginger beer for spice, Bulleit bourbon and a blood orange garnish. In the middle: a sample of refreshing blood orange margarita. On the right: Peach Antler ($9) with Jacques Bonet brandy, peach bitters, Cointreau, fresh muddled peaches, sliced peaches and aromatic sage leaves.

Even with dinner plans, we couldn’t resist trying some food.

Pasta San Diego

Crispy elk sausage ravioli ($12) were basically gigantic fried wontons filled with house-made sausage, caramelized onions and goat cheese, topped with veal demi-glace, diced tomatoes and chives. Gamy elk flavor got lost in the mix, and the ravioli really didn’t need frying.

Vegetable San Diego

We had better success with a sizable side of roasted Acorn Squash with Maple Bacon Butter ($6) submerged in syrup and filled with plenty of melted butter, crisp bacon and chives.

The Tractor Room food was only pretty good this time, but life won’t be complete until I try venison meatloaf. The Tractor Room is getting ready to introduce a revamped cocktail menu with some new drinks that Rivera has been developing. Given how good these cocktails were, a new cocktail list might be reason enough to return to San Diego.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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