Pillbox Tavern: Neighborhood Charm And Tasty Eats In Solana Beach

Pillbox Tavern

Everyone needs that go-to neighborhood spot that they can count on for friendly service, an easy, informal atmosphere, and a quality meal at a fair price.

For a few years now, Pillbox Tavern & Grill has been that spot for many of the residents of Solana Beach and neighboring North County communities.

Their healthy and fresh food keeps stomachs happy and their casual, neighborhood feel keeps the good vibes flowing. Essentially, they’ve harnessed what San Diego is all about.

Set in the beauteous backdrop of Solana Beach’s Fletcher Cove, Pillbox’s clean and comfortable interior offers a place for locals to stop by and unwind.

Much More Than A Tavern

Although it’s called a tavern, Pillbox offers much more than what you’d expect from a typical tavern. Solana’s zoning laws requires that Pillbox close earlier than the bars, so while you absolutely get a fantastic cocktail here, it’s less about drinking, and more about quality food and atmosphere.

And far from what you’d expect at most taverns, the Pillbox kitchen’s unwavering commitment to fresh, made-from-scratch food at reasonable prices makes it a great option for regular dining that won’t break the bank or your fitness resolutions.

Bring your fam here for a last-minute, mid-week dinner in that catastrophic moment of time-constrained #hangry (you know which one) and you’ll find fresh food and an environment that’s perfect for kids.

Pillbox Tavern


Everything – down to the dressings and sauces – is fresh and locally sourced. Try their Mahi sandwich or any of their famous savory wing selections.

Pillbox Tavern

But Still A Great Place For A Drink And ‘Adulting’

The bar is also packed with greatness. Enjoy rotating local tap beers or sip on some seriously signature cocktails for the more indulgent of evenings (or days).

Bring in a friend for a cocktail and good conversation (we recommend their margs) and grab a seat at the bar to watch the big game, or stop by for a long weekend brunch that will leave you in a glorious food and Bloody Mary-induced coma.

The Secret? A Love Of San Diego And The Food Industry

At this point, do you find yourself asking “What makes a place so great?!”

Our thoughts exactly. So we took some time to learn a bit about the Pillbox and its owners Leigh Gibson and Mike Garcia, and it’s all making sense now.

Pillbox Tavern

After spending time in the navy, Gibson returned to the East Coast to begin a new life. He looks back to one specific and fateful day, when his brother asked him, “Why are you living on the East Coast?”

Not long after, Gibson found himself in San Diego, and he never left. He worked his way into the food industry and mastered the art of a damn good chicken wing during his time at Dirty Birds.

As for Garcia – he was born and raised a true San Diegan. Immersed in the restaurant industry, he is a co-owner and operator of Solana Beach hot spot, Saddle Bar, and plays in an integral role in the bar’s drink development, staff training, marketing and more.

Pillbox Tavern

Gibson and Garcia met when they worked alongside each other at Side Bar in 2007. As these two brushed shoulders, with their stirring ambitions and love of the food industry, a local eatery with the greatness of Pillbox was destined to be born.

Pillbox Tavern

So what’s next for this dynamic duo?

These fellas are joining forces again to open another neighborhood eatery, Nautilus Tavern, near Windansea Beach in La Jolla.

In the former digs of La Jolla Tap & Grill, Nautilus will be opened after renovations to the space’s 2,500 square-foot interior and exterior. Construction will begin this Spring, and the group aims to open the restaurant in June 2017.

Nautilus will have similar food to Pillbox and sport an oceanic theme to match the name. Stay tuned for updates as July draws nearer!

We’ll See You There!

Stop by Pillbox soon, and tell them ThereSanDiego sent you – you won’t be disappointed!

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