There’s a welcoming Craftsman-style historic home on the edge of Little Italy that seems slightly out of sync with its more stoic multi-story concrete and glass neighbors. Queenstown Public House, at the corner of Cedar and Columbia Streets, is a fun New Zealand-themed restaurant serving American food “with a Kiwi twist.” This is a restaurant where you’re meant to linger over your meal, and sharing plates is encouraged.
Queenstown Public House Ambiance
This trendy restaurant has a bold personality that is intriguing almost to the point of distraction. One colorful reviewer described Queenstown Public House this way, “Looks like Anthropologie and National Geographic had a beautiful baby and plopped it right there in Little Italy.” Although it’s funny, it’s also an apt description. The whimsical décor creates casual and friendly spaces in their Parlor Room and on three outdoor heated patio areas. You’ll be happy to relax over a delicious meal here.
The public house is surrounded by a low mesh wire and wood fence. As you enter the yard there is a grassy area with tables under umbrellas to your left, and beyond that a fire pit amidst a grouping of chairs at the corner of the property. To the right are two adjacent covered patios, one along the edge of the property and the other at the end of a stone path that crosses the lawn to a raised deck. The large bar is right inside the door with the Parlor Room to the left, which serves as a cozy dining room.
Baby boomers may recognize the vintage schoolhouse fold-up seats at dining tables on the front lawn. Kids will be amazed by the fluffy sheep hanging upside-down and grazing on the faux grassy ceiling in the Parlor. Nature lovers will appreciate being able to dine outdoors year-round. The visual allure is in the details at Queenstown Public House, and they are abundant. Dawdle over a refreshing peach and basil sangria on a warm San Diego afternoon and experience this laid back ambiance for yourself.
Queenstown Public House Food
Queenstown Public House features mid-priced New Zealand pub fare where casual is the name of the game. Two dinner favorites include tender New Zealand rack of lamb with sweet potato mash and blue cheese crumbles, or flavorful roasted duck with Brussels sprouts, sliced jalapeños, blanched carrots, Yukon potatoes, and orange salad. Fish and chips – beer battered haddock and fatty fries served with tartar sauce and malt vinegar get rave reviews.
Craft burgers are made with imaginative ingredients from lamb to black beans to wild boar. If you’re looking for bold taste, but can’t envision your burger made with anything but beef, get the Kiwilango with organic grass fed beef, jalapeños, blue cheese, tortilla chips, and hot sauce on a focaccia bun. For a tasty down-under experience, order the Bare Li’L Lamb – New Zealand lamb, blue cheese, mint jelly, and beets on a focaccia bun – an explosion of flavors. Blazin’ Ahi with yellow fin ahi, cucumber, pickled carrots, wasabi aioli, and wasabi peas on a Hawaiian bun is another popular choice.
Queenstown Public House, of course, is as much pubic house (tavern) as restaurant. It features 28 taps, of which 20 are craft brews and the remainder are wines on tap. They also have English-style cask ale, a variety of sangrias, and bottled wine. You can order interesting beer cocktails like a Hefeweizen topped with Framboise, or champagne cocktails like a pomegranate fizz. Organic, fresh-squeezed blood orange mimosas are a brunch favorite on weekends.
Queenstown Public House Details
Queenstown Public House works a 12-hour day from late morning to late night. Brunch with breakfast items is only served on weekends when the restaurant opens earlier. All three patios are dog-friendly; there are doggie treats at the front gate, and servers bring your dog a bowl of water. The restaurant is ADA accessible. There is a television in the bar area, and Wi-Fi is free. The restaurant is kid-friendly, and dishes meant to be shared makes it even easier to satisfy the little ones without blowing the vacation budget.
Queenstown Public House Neighborhood
If you’re looking for nearby entertainment in the neighborhood, The Firehouse Museum is right across the street from Queenstown Public House. It is a great place for families with children, and history buffs to see antique fire trucks and firefighting equipment from as far back as the 1800s. The iconic Our Lady of the Rosary Church – the “Jewel of Little Italy” – is only two blocks from the restaurant on State Street. You’ll see statues of Christopher Columbus and Saint Peter, hand-painted murals, stain glass windows, and stunning Italian architecture. They occasionally hold special masses featuring Gregorian Chant.
The Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum are blocks away on the boardwalk between San Diego Bay and North Harbor Drive. Maritime Museum ship tours offer an inside look at life on San Diego vessels, including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship. The USS Midway Museum offers self-guided audio tours on the ship with over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft on deck. Docents are often available to tell their own or others’ stories aboard the USS Midway.
DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego is a great choice for families looking for clean, comfortable, kid-friendly accommodations. It’s also a convenient alternative to Downtown’s pricey historic and boutique hotels for business professionals. The DoubleTree is conveniently located two blocks up Cedar Street at Union Street.