Spanish soldiers first colonized San Diego around 1769 and thus became the first Europeans to settle in what would become California. San Diego came under Mexican control after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1822, and the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park preserves life as it would have been in the period after that, as San Diego was transitioning from Mexican control to American control after the Mexican-American War (source). Buildings of the period still standing, including the first public schoolhouse in California, have been restored and converted mostly into museums, though some are now home to your typical tourist trap shops.
But we all know that shops specializing in exotic jerky and root beer beverages are far from typical.
Horseless wagons driven by barrels of root beer are also atypical.
Old Town House of Jerky & Root Beer actually started at another old town: Old Town Temecula. I did not recall seeing it at all while we were in Temecula visiting the Old Town Root Beer Company, but I’ll chalk that up to being distracted by the heat and the fact that I had already just purchased a dozen bottles of root beer – I’ll have to pay more attention next time we’re down there. Regardless, Old Town House of Jerky and Root Beer has the advantage of a versatile name, and since most cities in California have some portion referred to as “Old Town” (officially or otherwise), they can practically set up shop wherever they so please.
The San Diego shop is not actually in one of the historic buildings of Old Town, unless former Mexican restaurants and/or kitsch shops are somehow historic. I’m not certain exactly how long this particular outpost has been in operation, but I do know that House of Jerky & Root Beer has been around for maybe a decade and a half, originally opened by roadside jerky purveyors Ron and Jani (yes, we’re on a first name basis already). Current owner Evelyn Honea took over around 3 years ago and now operates the House(s) along with her daughter (source).
We did not try any of the jerky, but we did leave with a modest root beer haul, which you’ll see soon enough. The store is stocked with over a dozen root beer varieties and a couple dozen more non-root beer beverages. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture while we were inside (it was pretty crowded), so instead I’ll have to leave you with a picture from inside La Casa de Estudillo, of where you would have ended up back in 1821 if you had too much root beer…