Queenstown Public House | Gourmet Burgers in Little Italy - Kiwi Style

November 1, 2013

By Ryan Bridge | SanDiegoVille Contributor

Photo by Carly Ealy
If you’re looking to find a great burger in downtown San Diego, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. Variations on the American staple are so abundant that restaurants have to create something truly special to stand out. Queenstown Public House, situated on the corner of Columbia and Cedar in Little Italy, stands above the rest by crafting delicious selections of unique, organic burgers and sandwiches, while maintaining a friendly New Zealand attitude. Run by the owners of Pacific Beach’s Bareback Grill and Ocean Beach’s Raglan Public House, Queenstown boasts gourmet burgers, an impressive beer list, and delectable house specialties in an adorable setting.

Photo by Carly Ealy
As my date and I finished our pre-dinner jaunt down India Street through the heart of Little Italy, we made our way towards Queenstown Public House located just a block east of the main strip. The building stood on its own, surrounded by a wooden fence and several fire pits, resembling a quaint, two-bedroom home more than the pub we were expecting. As we entered the wooden structure, decorated with Maori trinkets and a full-sized canoe hanging from behind the bar, we opted to enjoy our meal outside on the deck for a more intimate atmosphere (there were plenty of heat lamps for that Autumn chill).

Photo by Carly Ealy
Although I had heard rumors of Queenstown having some delicious house sangrias (including peach basil and mint Prosecco) the beer list was calling to me. Behind the bar they had twenty beers on tap, most of which were rare or seasonal San Diego brews. I started off with a large glass mug of Acoustic Ales’ Wet Hop Citra XPA ($7), an extra pale ale loaded with hops and citrus flavors, while my date chose Alesmith’s Evil Dead Red ($6.50), a rich, malty, Halloween ale.

Queenstown serves their appetizers family-style for easy sharing. They offer a variety of options from your more typical pub food (pretzel’s and fried goods) to more gourmet options like the lamb and shrimp skewers with romanesco and tzatziki sauces. We decided to go for the appropriately named Triple ($11): a cutting board loaded with panko-fried calamari, and corn-dusted zucchini and asparagus. The veggies were light and crunchy, and matched our beers wonderfully. After dunking each in the house-made rosemary aioli, I had to resist asking our host for an aioli squeeze bottle to-go.

Photo by Carly Ealy
Even though house specialties like the slow roasted game hen, rack of lamb, and grilled wild salmon piqued our interest, we were there for burgers. I ordered the Bare Lil' Lamb ($13, +$1 to add a fried egg on top), a New Zealand lamb patty with blue cheese crumbles, crunchy shoe-string beetroot, and a mint jelly. The burger was big and juicy, and the creamy blue cheese added a rich depth of flavor. My date ordered the Meso Tasty ($11), a grilled chicken breast sandwich topped with Maui onion chips and grilled pineapple, and by the end of our meal I had snuck more than a couple of bites of her sandwich.

For dessert we had two choices. The first was named Sheila’s Guilt ($9) and was composed of freshly baked cinnamon rolls, candied apples and caramel topped with vanilla ice cream. The second, which sounded too good to pass up, was the E-Legal ($9), a monster chocolate chip cookie baked in a skillet and topped with vanilla ice cream. We devoured the gooey, chocolaty treat in minutes, despite the fact that we were full when we ordered it.  That's a testament to a tasty dessert.

We’ll definitely be back, Queenstown. Your Kiwi charm and tasty burgers have won us over!

Queenstown Public House
1557 Columbia St., Little Italy
(619) 546-0444


Mon - Thu: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Sat: 9:00 am - 12:00 am
Sun: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm