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Craft Coast's patio offers guests interesting views while enjoying delicious tacos and brews. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Craft Coast's patio offers guests interesting views while enjoying delicious tacos and brews. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Cheers! North CountyColumnsFood & Wine

Craft Coast tops Blue Fire in patio challenge

Two of North County’s younger breweries face off in this week’s edition of the North County Brewery Patio-Off Bracket. Charlie and Tommy Gordon opened up Blue Fire Brewing in September of 2021. Friends Blake, Brian, and Lars opened Craft Coast in 2020, just after the coronavirus really started flexing.

THE SCORES: As a reminder, breweries are scored on a 100-point scale with a max of 20 points per category. See the scoring details in our NCBPO launch column. Skip below for an unexpected twist or two.

Blue Fire Brewing Co. (Vista)

This entire brewery challenge exists because of my visit to Blue Fire Brewing. I plotted out the rough details over a White Sage IPA. It was a great beer, but unfortunately, not one of the final factors that would push a patio forward in this competition.

Service and atmosphere certainly are, and at Blue Fire, I experienced both. The other patrons helped brainstorm this brewery patio list, and the staff was pragmatic about where they might land with their picnic tables in the parking lot. I hold that burst of inspiration leading to a summers-worth of content creation near and dear to my heart.

A view from Blue Fire Brewing's outdoor patio in Vista. Photo by Ryan Woldt
A view from Blue Fire Brewing’s outdoor patio in Vista. Photo by Ryan Woldt

But..the real pleasure of visiting Blue Fire is indoors. The patio is simple — picnic tables lined up in the parking lot. There isn’t any shade to speak of, and when things get hot on the blacktop, they get hot at the tables. There are board games inside you could bring out, but there is often a breeze whistling down South Santa Fe Avenue. Even the sunset is better from the rail seats that look out towards the hills.

Accommodation: 10
Atmosphere: 10
Offerings: 13
Service: 17
Wildcard: 12
Total: 62

Takeaway: The sunset is nice and the beer is good, but the patio isn’t the priority here. 

Craft Coast Beer + Tacos (Oceanside)

I’ve never been to Craft Coast, mostly because it always seems busy. My tendencies lean towards avoiding humans, but that has been a mistake. I order an XPA. Pizza Port’s influence is evident in the beer and the design of the beer board. 

I pair the beer with a veggie taco and some chips, salsa, and guac. They have a nice food menu available, and my understanding is that the food operation and the beer brewing are separate businesses that came together for this location.

Craft Coast's patio on the street makes for great people watching. Photo by Ryan Woldt
Craft Coast’s patio on the street makes for great people-watching. Photo by Ryan Woldt

The patio is right on Mission Avenue downtown. It leads right into the indoor space with wide open doors. There is just a view of the ocean from our table that is occasionally interrupted by the train. They have a QR code on the table that can be used to order refills. I’m beginning to think this QR code menu thing isn’t just a fad. I have to admit, I’m beginning to miss table service. Good service can really elevate an experience.

The patio’s location on the street makes for excellent people-watching, and it is partially covered, so even a few sprinkles don’t impede on our lunch. Snake plants and succulents are tucked into the corners, and string lights overhead provide an atmosphere in the evenings.

Accommodation: 15
Atmosphere: 1
Offerings: 18
Service: 13
Wildcard: 14
Total: 75

Takeaway: Knowing tacos this good exist at a brewery and are available all the time has changed my lunch plans for the foreseeable future. Everything else is good. The people watching, partial oceanview, and even the slow-moving train are entertaining. The service score gets dinged only because we never really interacted with anyone other than a basic I want… and This is how I pay moment.

ROUND 1 WINNER: Craft Coast Beer + Tacos

Did I miss an excellent brewery patio? Send a message to @CheersNorthCounty on Facebook or Instagram, or e-mail me at [email protected].

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