Papalo To Bring Sonoran-Style Mexican BBQ To San Diego's South Park

September 18, 2022

The founding chef behind San Diego's Michelin-recognized LOLA 55 modern taqueria is launching a second Sonoran-style Mexican barbecue eatery, this time in South Park.

This past summer, Chef Andrew 'Drew' Bent left his position as executive chef and partner of LOLA 55 in San Diego's East Village, which he helped open in August 2018 after several years of menu and concept development. During Chef Drew's tenure at LOLA 55, the restaurant earned the highly coveted Bib Gourmand distinction from California’s Michelin Guide. In August, Chef Drew opened Papalito within the new Little Thief Wine Bar in San Diego's North Park, offering a Sonoran barbecue flavors in a sandwich and bistro menu. Chef Drew will soon open a sister concept as part of the incoming Bock Bar in San Diego's South Park. 

Dubbed Papalo, Chef Drew Bent is in the process of installing a new Sonoran Mexican barbecue restaurant within a portion of the space that last housed South Park Brewing next door to the old Hamilton's Tavern in South Park. Expect a more traditional a la carte barbecue menu and experience than what is offered at Papalito. A new location of sister concepts Pop Pie Co. & Stella Jean Ice Cream will sit next door to Papalo in the remaining former South Park Brewing space. 

We previously reported that the former Hamilton's Tavern space had been taken over by Brian Jensen, the founder of six locations of Bottlecraft craft beer bar and bottle shop, as well as branches of Vino Carta Wine Store and Bar in Little Italy and Solana Beach. Jensen is also the owner of Little Thief Wine Bar in North Park, which houses Bent's Papalito eatery. Jensen is in the process of constructing Bock Bar in South Park, which will will offer a German tavern vibe and be heavily inspired by Hamilton's Tavern and other Old World neighborhood pubs. Papalo will operate the food component for Bock, although it will be housed in its own space with a separate entrance, unlike Papalito. 

Following a fire in November 2020 and abundant allegations of impropriety against its owner, Hamilton's Tavern confirmed it would not be reopening in July 2021 after a 14 year tenure as a top beer bar in San Diego's South Park. Hamilton's Tavern was founded in 2006 and was long known as one of San Diego's original craft beer bars. Ownership opened South Park Brewing Company in the neighboring space in 2014. In November 2020, a fire that broke out that caused more than $1 million damage to Hamilton's Tavern and South Park Brewing Company. Both concepts were owned by Scot Donovan Blair, who was outspoken about his opposition to the forced shutdowns during the COVID-19 era and was named several times in damning accusations on Brienne Allan's viral @RatMagnet Instagram posts that took the craft beer industry by storm earlier this year.

Chef Andrew 'Drew' Bent is a graduate of the Art Institute of California that has worked locally in the kitchens at Searsucker, Carnitas' Snack Shack, Puesto, Tender Greens, Tiger!Tiger!, and in 2017 even apprenticed in the kitchen for frequent "Best Restaurant In The World" winner Noma’s month-long Tulum, Mexico pop-up. Bent also worked at Enrique Olvero's highly-reviewed Criollo restaurant in Oaxaca for a short period. Chef Drew also came out victorious on an episode of Food Network's Beat Bobby Flayin spring 2021.

Papalo is expected to open as early as April/May 2023 at 1517 30th Street in San Diego's South Park. For more information, visit