It’s a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

Relax, grillin’, and chillin’. Three separate words that go great with beer. But put Relax! Grillin & Chillin all together with it and you create a friendly neighborhood bar with an amazing beer selection.

Coveniently located right off Hwy 156

Relax! Grillin & Chillin is conveniently located on Highway 156 between San Juan Bautista and Hollister. You’ve probably even passed it without even considering to stop and check it out. Admittedly, from the outside it appears to be just another roadhouse that one would assume is selling crap beer (it is in the heart of biker country after all). Heck, we must have passed it dozens of times before hearing through the hopvine that they had a great craft beer selection. They’ve even had Pliny The Elder on tap, which is absolutely unheard of in the area!

Relax! Grillin & Chillin is so much more than a bar with good beer, though. It’s a gathering spot for the community. It’s child/family friendly, the staff and clientele are welcoming, they have multiple TVs for the sports lover, and the food is terrific. They even have weekly Brewery Nights and a mug club for the die-hard beer geeks. I’d say that there’s something for everyone at Grillin & Chillin.

On a recent visit, Chris and I enjoyed Drake’s Aroma Coma (draft) and Tap It’s Pale Ale (bottle) with our starter of chicken sliders (fried chicken on small rolls with pickle and BBQ sauce). They have another slider option of drunk burgers with Guinness sauce, as well as other appetizers they call “kickers.” The menu includes the usual pub grub of calamari, chicken strips, hot dogs, burgers and zucchini fries, but there is so much more, including the apricot turkey sandwich with Monterey jack cheese and an apricot spread and a ham and cheese pretzel sandwich.

Tacos and Drake's Aroma Coma IPA

On a previous visit, a regular insisted that I have the street tacos because the dill sauce on them was amazing. “It goes on everything,” he told me. So this time, I took his advice and had the grilled shrimp street tacos. He was right. The sauce was light and had just the right tang. In fact, owner Chuck Frowein told me that it was after making a batch of his special sauce that he realized he had what it took to open a restaurant. From that, Grillin & Chillin was born. How lucky we are!

Gotta try a beer at least once...

We’re even luckier that Chuck has good taste in beer. The tap list on the night we were there included the aforementioned Aroma Coma, Deschutes Black Butte XXIII, and New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Kick, to name a few. And if you can’t decide on one draft beer, you can order a flight of 5 samples for $10. The bottle list was also impressive with Brew Dog’s Sink the Bismarck and Tactical Nuclear Penguin, The Bruery’s Autumn Maple and 4 Calling Birds, plus Firestone Walker’s XV and Batch 23 and Damnation from Russian River.

Years ago, when we moved back to the Monterey Peninsula from the Bay Area, we used to travel forty minutes to Hollister to visit San Andreas Brewing. It was an easy way to get our fill of good craft beer without going all the way to Oakland. Relax! Grillin & Chillin harkens back to those days by bringing craft beer back to San Benito County. Judging by the crowds there every night, the place has obviously filled a niche left vacant when San Andreas closed. With the Monterey Peninsula’s improving beer scene we don’t necessarily have to go as far as Hollister to get good beer anymore, but going to Grillin & Chillin isn’t just about the beer, it’s about embracing everything that’s good about a neighborhood watering hole, whether your from the neighborhood or not.

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