Toronado: Bringing a San Francisco Beer Standard to North Park [CLOSED]

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Bar San Diego

Toronado stands out in a crowded North Park craft beer community.

Toronado San Diego is better than the San Francisco original on almost every level, with less grime, better food and a beer selection that’s at least as good. About a year ago, former SF bar manager Ian Black licensed the name and applied San Francisco’s best aspects to open a larger incarnation along 30th Street, a strip that is undoubtedly ground zero for California beer drinkers at this stage.

The dimly lit space features wood floors, high top tables and banquettes. Happily, Black kept several flourishes that made the original great, including an overhead tap list organized by brewery. No surprise, the San Diego location features healthy representation from local breweries. Black also stocks plenty of Belgians, including krieks and Lambics, and displays metal signs for Dogfish Head, Gueuze Kriek and Orval, to name just three breweries.

Craft Beer San Diego

Toronado hosts about 50 wall-mounted taps, 3 cask conditioned ales, a large fridge full of bottles.

In San Francisco, Toronado allows customers to order sausages from next-door Rosamunde Sausage Grill. Toronado San Diego preserves that tradition by offering a similar selection of sausages, with multiple encased meats served on local Bread & Cie buns. On Tuesdays, they offer the same Estancia burger that Rosamunde made famous in San Francisco. What sets San Diego apart is Chef Glenn Groening, who has the ability (and space) to create a market-driven gastropub menu. This is a concept that’s worked well at Father’s Office in Los Angeles.

Hamburgers San Diego

I enjoyed the Grilled Atkins Lamb Sliders on grilled baguette with olive tapenade, mint aioli and cheddar cheese. The juicy, relatively gamy sliders even came with an excellent cup of intensely flavored tomato roasted garlic bisque.

Shrimp San Diego

Cajun drunken tiger prawns were blasted with a garlic-blasted beer braise and served with char-grilled polenta triangles that soaked up flavorful sauce. Toronado uses different lagers for the beer braise, depending on what’s in stock. In this case, it was Weinstephaner, the oldest brewery on the planet, which dates to 1040 AD.

Craft Beer San Diego

I started with Dogfish Head Midas Touch, a beer that brewer Sam Calagione supposedly based on a 2700-year-old recipe taken from King Midas’ tomb. The honey-infused beer was too sweet, especially when paired with food.

L.A. beer fiend Alex Davis happened to be at the next table and shared tastes of two beers from Port Solana: a fairly smooth drinking brown ale called One Down Brown; and the hoppy Swami’s IPA, which paired really well with the sliders.

The San Francisco original still has its well-worn charms, but given the choice, the San Diego offshoot is more enjoyable.


Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

[…] (Picture from Joshua Lurie’s Food GPS) […]

Nice work on the food Glenn, photos look great. I will have to take a trip down to SD and say hello.
Matt-ex-Kezar alum.

nothing can beat the original.

Patricia, have you been to Toronado SD? If you have, I’d be interested to hear how you’d compare it to the SF original. To me, SD delivers a better experience.

we had the Dogfish Head Midas Touch as well, just a day before, and it was pretty sweet, but we didn’t pair with any food, making it an ideal afternoon “refresher”. Toronado has generally been very enjoyable for us, especially since we go when it’s very quiet (5PM), but I don’t know how much I’d like it in prime hours like 11PM on a weekend.

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