Churchill’s Pub and Grille: a San Marcos Mainstay
Churchill’s Pub and Grille has long been an English pub-themed haven for craft beer and a mainstay of San Marcos about an hour’s drive north of San Diego. A combination of good food, great beer and a public house atmosphere offers something for everyone wanting to have a good time.
Regarding that good food, you’ll find the usual English pub fare such as fish and chips and bangers and mash, but you’ll also find several upgrades and surprises turned out by the scratch kitchen. For example, the wings are spiced with several choices including Buffalo, Guinness BBQ, Cajun dry rub, Old Bay dry rub, Spicy BBQ, sweet chili sauce and Ivan’s Revenge—homemade hot sauce crafted from raw habañeros created by Churchill’s owner Ivan Derezen. Also, Ivan took up the vegan lifestyle in 2013, so unlike most pubs, there are vegan choices, like Vegan Filet “Steak”—the appearance and texture of beef tenderloin, made of grilled watermelon radish, bittersweet cocoa, cauliflower puree, smoked mushroom and red wine reduction; Smoked BBQ Mushroom sandwich—smoked trumpet mushroom, BBQ sauce and kale slaw on ciabatta; and Buffalo Cauliflower appetizer—cauliflower, rice flower, buffalo sauce and buttermilk ranch. As for surprises, how about the Parliament Burger composed of Snake River Farms Kobe style beef, black truffle cheese, pancetta and crispy shallot rings; or Chicken Tikka Masala—grilled chicken, tikka masala curry sauce, scallions and basmati rice.
Churchill’s owner Ivan Derezen was a CPA and a money manager by trade, and in 2002 took a departure from the world of finance to pursue something he truly cared about: craft beer and pubs. “I’ve always loved English pubs,” said Ivan, “and wanted to have a pub offering more of the craft beers that I liked.” At the turn of the 21st century there wasn’t that much going on in the area and Ivan is considered by many to be a pioneer for bringing awareness of craft beer to the area, something he continues to do.
Ivan has also grown the beer list over the years to the expansive selection that is offered at his pub today. The beer list is arguably the best in the city and spans several beer styles and includes 50 taps, two casks and hundreds more in bottles. The beer list is a good way to do one stop shopping of the offerings of the breweries from the North County area and San Diego, which dominated the list during my visit, with the likes of Ballast Point Peppermint Victory at Sea Imperial Vanilla Porter with coffee and peppermint, Council Three Berry Tart Saison, Stone Old Guardian Belgo 2011 Barley Wine spiked with Belgian yeast, Mother Earth Cali Creamin Cream Ale with vanilla and Toolbox Bog Sauce Berliner Weisse with cranberries & raspberries. The draft offerings are conveniently chalked on a board listing ABV, price and serving size.
As for the atmosphere, both indoor and patio dining provide a relaxed environment, with an open pub-like feel. The long bar sets the mood with its string of 50 taps and the walls are lined with shelves containing beer bottles, decorative mugs, beer knick knacks and lighted brewery signage, and the dining room is equipped with stained glass, long wood tables and hard wood floor, just like you’d find in a public house in the U.K.
Special events not-to-be-missed include a sour beer fest in September, Hops and Heat a celebration of IPAs and spicy food in the summer, Churchill’s Renaissance the first Saturday in March and Wings Night every Wednesday with wings for .55 from 4-10 p.m.
Churchill’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and the kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Churchill’s Pub and Grille
887 W. San Marcos Blvd.
San Marcos, CA 92078