We've never been to Toronado's relatively new San Diego location, which opened in 2008.
But writer Brandon Hernández has. He's a food critic for The San Diego Reader, and an avid fan of that city's "Toronado 2.0", as he calls it.
Hernández visited San Francisco during last month's SF Beer Week, and stopped by the original Toronado to assess how it stacks up to the SoCal version.
Apparently, he wasn't so impressed.
In a story posted yesterday dubbed "A Tale of Two Toronados", Hernández compares the two bars, noting their shared commitment to excellent craft beer and citing some similarities in their physical layouts. But that's where the pleasantries end.
Toronado 1.0 only takes cash.
It doesn't have a food menu.
The tables aren't really tables, just "smallish wooden protrusions."
The aesthetic is inferior — "a bit more kitschy and patchwork; the kind of thing you'd see in one of our older strip malls if San Fran had such things." (Accidental compliment?)
And the service — well, the writer found that the service came with "a shot of pompous negativity." (His words.)
"What's harder to get past is having to deal with the kind of BS that exists in many old-timey institutions that can and will flourish with or without your business. The sass and generally unwelcoming nature of some of the staffers behind Toronado SF's bar has been explained to me by many a patron as 'part of the ambiance.' Because a large contingent of Toronado's regulars are hospitality industry types or people so enamored with craft beer they’d take a few lashes on the back if it meant receiving a pint of some rare double IPA in return, the staff can behave this way. That's certainly well within their right, but it's probably not an environment that's going to appeal to many SoCal visitors."
In conclusion, Hernández gives Toronado 1.0 props for doing its thing and staying focused on great beer, but strongly prefers the newer, friendlier version down south.
How about you, Haighteration readers? Any of you been to the San Diego Toronado? Do you appreciate the gruff, no-frills original for what it is, or would you make some changes if you could? (You can't, to be clear, but we'd like to know regardless.)