Pizza Port, Solana Beach
When I arrived for a late lunch on a Monday afternoon about 2 pm, I took it as a good sign that there were quite a few people there. It means that the place is producing good enough food and beer to draw people even at off-peak times. That inference was confirmed in the tasting.
The lunch special (two slices of pizza and a soft drink) is a great deal. I added a flight of four 3-oz tasters to my lunch for just $4, which is an amazing price. As my bartender said, if he were broke he would order $1 tasters all day long.
The pizza was quite good; I tried both the pepperoni and the daily special (a pesto-based affair with lots of yummy garlic and tomatoes). The service was fast and friendly.
Cardiff Cream Ale (5.2 % ABV). Light, clean and refreshing. Clear golden, tall head, slightly spicy malt. 3.25/5
The beer was good. I chose four beers that were brewed at this location, and it was fun that the brewer was right there chatting and working while the bartender poured my flight. I rated the four beers I tried between 3 and 3.5 out of 5, which on my scale means I thought they were perfectly good but not great. Pizza Port has several locations and they share kegs among themselves, so there is lots of variety. They also offer many guest beers, so it is a great place to go for a beer-and-pizza fix, and at a reasonable price, too.
Merica IPA (7.4% ABV). Funky hops. A bit sharp. There’s something in the middle of the swallow that reminds me of dust/dirt. Not bad but not my favorite. 3/5 (The average Untappd rating on this is 3.82/5, so I may have gotten a weak batch.)
The restaurant in Solana Beach is on an access road that is a little difficult to get to, and there is not a lot of street parking. It is not far from the beach, though, so if you are already parked down there it is an easy walk to Pizza Port (it’s a ten minute walk from Tide Park Beach, seven minutes from Fletcher Cove Beach). An interesting day trip from San Diego would be to take the train up to the Solana Beach Station, which is directly across the tracks from Pizza Port (there’s a pedestrian bridge).
Lou P. Lin (8.5% ABV). Grass/funk hops on the nose and palate. Slightly cloudy golden color edging toward amber. It had a sharp/acid aftertaste. 3/5 (Again that is way under the Untappd average of 4.14/5; people seem to really like this beer, so my batch or my impression may have been off.)
The small outdoor patio faces east, and hence it is nicely shaded from the late afternoon sun when the days are hot (it is a bit loud because of the traffic). The interior has low ceilings and dark woods, including the varnished picnic tables that make up most of the seating. They are obviously going for a beach/skate/surf theme. This location is quite a bit smaller than the one in Ocean Beach, but there is definitely a family resemblance. There are four video games (and a quaint old-fashioned change machine). It is a kid-friendly spot, so parents needing beer while tending children like it.
Seaside Stout (5.3% ABV). Very nice. Thick, toasty malts, smooth. 3.5/5
The Solana Beach location is the original Pizza Port; check it out for good beer and good pizza and a good price if you are in the area, or if you want to see where an important part of San Diego’s craft beer scene got started.
135 N Hwy 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075
Don’t Just Take My Word For It (Links to Related Beer Writing)
San Diego Magazine’s Brewery Guide entry for Pizza Port, Solana Beach.
[Added 11/30/2016] Here’s a great story from Paste Magazine about the history of Pizza Port.