Root beer is a nearly universally beloved treat. The elderly enjoy this soda, which likely brings back memories of their youth. Young children enjoy a fizzy drink without caffeine that has a complex but sweet flavor. Then, of course, there’s the special treat that is a root beer float.
If you’re looking to revisit the fun of a root beer float, you’re in luck. In a town rich with craft beer, there are also many places that serve up excellent root beer. We’ve found four places around San Diego that have stand-out root beer offerings on their menus!
San Diego Brewing Co
Location: 10450 Friars Road, Suite L (map)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Since 1993, San Diego Brewing Company has been creating craft beers. They continue to thrive even though the local beer scene is more crowded than ever. In addition to serving their own house brews, they offer beers from other local craft brewers and breweries all over the world. There are as many as 50 beers on tap at any given time here, as well as options for hard liquor and wines.
In addition to everyone’s favorite hop-infused beverage, however, they can often be found brewing up several other fermented drinks. They make kombucha in house, as well as homemade root beer. This is on tap and incredibly popular. You can drink it straight or order up a root beer float, topped with whipped cream. The only downside to enjoying a house root beer here is the fact that unlike the other sodas, it doesn’t come with free refills.
There’s plenty of good food on the menu as well. They serve breakfast on Sundays, including breakfast burritos and steak and eggs. You can even order up the increasingly popular chillaquilles. Their main menu features standard American bar fare, such as burgers, pizzas, and fish & chips. They also serve up hot wings, which have a vegetarian option for non-meat eaters.
Old Town Jerky and Root Beer
Location: 2754 San Diego Avenue (map)
Hours: Seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
When a business includes a product in their name, you can usually assume they feature that item and do a good job of it. Located inside the Fiesta de Reyes, which is a collection of retail businesses, restaurants, a hotel and an entertainment venue, Old Town Jerky and Root Beer is a must-visit root beer destination in Old Town. Jerky and root beer are definitely treats that bring up thoughts of history and settlement across the country. They make a perfect focus for a business in historic Old Town.
As the name implies, they carry more than 100 different kinds of jerky, from common flavors to unique meats. They offer samples of some of the more popular brands. You can try turkey jerky, beef jerky and bacon jerky if you like the classics. If you’re more into adventure, however, you can enjoy elk and alligator jerky as well.
As for root beer, well, they have more than 50 different brands of this popular drink. You can also find other historic and nostalgic soda brands and flavors on sale here. If you’re craving a root beer float, remember to bring a friend. Their floats are always buy one, get one free!
Soda & Swine
Location: 2943 Adams Avenue (map)
Hours: Seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
If you like your meals made from scratch and your sodas old-school, you’ll definitely enjoy a visit to Soda & Swine. They have two locations. In addition to the location we’re featuring in North Park, you can also find a Soda & Swine in Liberty Station. Both locations feature homemade meatballs and plenty of traditional sodas.
The foods here start with your choice of meatballs. Each meatball has a cute name. The Swine, for example, is smoked pork with chipotle and pepperjack cheese. The Grain is a vegetarian option made with quinoa, pesto and feta. The Bahn Mi features smoked pork, pickled veggies, peppers, cilantro and a sirarcha aioli. You can have those made in to a sub or slider. They will also serve them on spaghetti or a la carte.
Their soda menu includes five kinds of root beer, a birch beer, ginger beers and ales, and several other kinds of specialty sodas, such as praline cream and huckleberry flavors. You can take any of their sodas and turn it into a float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for only a dollar. In fact, you can even try a “beer float,” which is like a root beer float but made with local craft beer.
Location: 3001 University Avenue (map)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday: 10 a.m. to midnight, Sunday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If you’re looking for a grown-up version of your favorite soda, plan a visit to Encontro in North Park. This establishment is a gastropub that features excellent New American cuisine and an extensive tap list of local craft beers. Most importantly for this list, however, is their ongoing inclusion of a hard root beer on their draft list.
Mission Brewery’s Hard Root Beer is a staple here. You can enjoy a 12-ounce pour of this foamy root beer with a solid 7.5 percent alcohol by volume for just $7.50. That makes it stronger than your average beer but still perfectly sippable if you want to enjoy a few with friends. It’s the perfect accompaniment for much of their menu, including their weekend brunch offerings.
A hard root beer is particularly good when served with a fresh burger and hot French fries. You’ll have no shortage of options at Encontro. Their house burger features a blend of brisket and chuck roast topped with a slice of heirloom tomato, lettuce and the Encontro secret sauce, all on a brioche bun. They also serve burgers with lamb patties, an Italian pork sausage blend and even a grilled portobello mushroom melt.