Have more fun by tossing back a beer and tossing a bocce ball or two.
"We wanted to create a fun environment where people can play games and still have a beer in hand. Bocce Ball Courts just seem like a no-brainer to us, especially with the great weather here in San Diego," said Grant Tondro at URGE Gastropub & Common House
Darts, ping-pong, and foosball have been entertaining bar and restaurant patrons for many years, though in the past these games were often found inside dimly-lit establishments with perhaps less-than-stellar food choices. More recently, outdoor games such as bocce ball have been spotted at happening local bars and foodie favorite eateries. Bocce courts are also being included at hotly anticipated restaurants under construction here in our fair-weathered city of San Diego... bringing outdoor games “into the light” and attracting game fans with culinary interests as well.
Bocce ball has been sweeping the nation’s food scene for several years, and we began covering the trend in 2013 in this article inspired by the ever-reliable sources at NPR. You may have noticed the long, narrow bocce courts at neighborhood hot spots like The Crack Shack in Little Italy, next to the giant chicken statue. (Note that riding the chicken is strictly forbidden, despite the obvious Instagram appeal... we warned you.) Here’s a update for new and old-school San Diego bocce ball fans to find new places to play the game while eating and drinking, a great way to #HaveMoreFun.
Bars, Breweries, and Restaurants where you can currently play bocce ball in San Diego:
- Stone Brewery World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station – a huge 23,500 square feet indoor and outdoor restaurant & brewery with 40 beers on tap and 100 craft and specialty beers, in a former U.S. Navy Mess Hall, with artificial turf bocce courts. 2816 Historic Decatur Road
- The Crack Shack – A foodie-friendly fast casual hot spot serving free-range, local chicken and eggs all day at this outdoor location. The bocce court is a gravel court that usually has more than a few rocks on it. 2266 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy
- Solterra Winery & Kitchen – Enjoy award-winning wine and a Mediterranean-style menu while you play bocce in Leucadia. 934 N. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
- Rare Form – Restaurant and delicatessen with tiki-themed bar called Fairweather, rooftop seating, and indoor bocce courts with silver metal bocce balls that are free to use in exchange for placing an ID on hold. 793 J St. in the East Village near Petco Park
Upcoming San Diego bocce court locations:
- URGE Gastropub and Common House – A new location seating 450 guests in a 21,000-sq-ft warehouse, with 8 full size bowling lanes, a huge patio area with outdoor games like Cornhole, Giant Tumble Tower and Mega 4, plus two Bocce Ball Courts with crushed oyster shell surface. Opening late March in San Marcos, CA
- The Crack Shack – A new Encinitas location is scheduled to open in February, and rumored to have a bocce court and another giant chicken statue. 407 Encinitas Blvd.
- The Shipping Yard – Huge, multi-level restaurant built from shipping containers, rumored to have bocce courts, opening in Imperial Beach this spring along the beach at Date Avenue and Seacoast Drive.
- Vigilante Brewing – Still under construction but rumored to have bocce courts in their entertainment plan. 2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar
- Punch Bowl Social – Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson leads the menu at this San Diego’s upcoming location. This huge space will include bowling, karaoke, and bocce, scheduled to open in the summer 2017. 1485 E St. at Maker’s Quarter, East Village
Bocce Ball Boom
You can see by the restaurant list above that bocce ball is a growing San Diego trend, with several big restaurant projects under construction including bocce courts. But why was bocce chosen as a key feature to add to their restaurant? "We wanted to create a fun environment where people can play games and still have a beer in hand. Bocce Ball Courts just seem like a no-brainer to us, especially with the great weather here in San Diego," said Grant Tondro at URGE Gastropub & Common House.
Here are a few theories why bocce has been added to many restaurants lately:
- It’s fairly easy and inexpensive for restaurants and bars to set up a bocce court, in spaces that may otherwise be unused or landscaping.
- There is a low cost to players, who can bring their own easily portable bocce set or use the balls provided at certain restaurants.
- San Diego weather is pleasant year-round, allowing for outdoor fun with bocce games on most days.
- Bocce is easy to play with food or drink in one hand and a bocce ball in the other.
- The average San Diegan likes to stay active, even while relaxing, drinking, and eating.
- The rules of bocce are simple enough for all ages to play, and simple enough to still enjoy a relaxing time spent with friends and family. No complex math or brain-busting strategy needed.
- Playing a game of bocce is a better excuse to get together with friends than just having drinks. More people are likely to say yes to that invitation, despite their busy schedules, if an activity is involved.
- Lots of new restaurants are including more outdoor space in general, perhaps to attract people by being different than the hundreds of other bars around town.
- Playing games will keep customers at the restaurant longer, possibly buying more food and drinks than customers just stopping by for a beer after work.
If you’re new to the game or would like a refresher course on how to play bocce ball, here’s a helpful video from the San Diego Little Italy Association:
We’d love to know where you like playing bocce and what you love about the game in the comments below, and seeing your bocce photos online makes our day, tag @Tossoinc or #HaveMoreFun so we can find and share them.