From luxe wine bars to awesome dive bars, it's all available in San Diego

Katie Dillon

By , Local Expert, San Diego
Ten Best Logo 03




Go for a beer, stiff gin and tonic, or perhaps just one amazing glass of wine. Meet friends, make new ones or impress a date. Whatever your craving or reason, San Diego's bar scene specializes in variety.

Topping our list of 10 is the tried and true The Aero Club, a favorite among locals for many years. The famous wall of liquor is a dream come true for whiskey lovers especially, as it holds over 130 different types. It looks like a dive bar from the outside, and many locals classify it as such, but the drinks are reasonably priced, the service is friendly, and the reviews positive.

Up north in Encinitas, a completely...  Read more »

  • 1

    The Aero Club

    • Type: Bar
    • Neighborhood: Balboa Park

    Local Expert Tip: "Allegedly, this is the place where bartenders go for a cold beer. It's a very popular dive bar with reasonably-priced drinks. Also, if you like whiskey--have a look at their enormous collection available for consumption. "

  • 2

    Vin de Syrah

    Local Expert Tip: "Let's just see if you can find the entrance. It may take you a minute, but you'll laugh about it after the fact. The decor inside is award-winning and the wines to not disappoint."

  • 3

    Hamilton's Tavern

    • Type: Bar
    • Neighborhood: Balboa Park

    Local Expert Tip: "A true neighborhood bar with a huge selection of beer and great sandwiches. It's casual and can get crowded, due to it's popularity with locals."

  • 4

    Union Kitchen and Tap

    • Type: Bar
    • Neighborhood: Beach Cities

    Local Expert Tip: "This is more of a high-end bar option in North County San Diego without the need to dress up or pay high-end pricing. Good people watching, too. Great craft cocktails and gluten-free food."


  • 5

    Wine Steals

    Local Expert Tip: "The value here is truly a steal. Buy a bottle of wine inside and drink it on the premises with no mark-up. It's a great place to meet friends as the food is good, too."

  • 6

    The Waterfront Bar & Grill

    Local Expert Tip: "Go any time of the day for a burger and a beer. It has a nice indoor/outdoor vibe and pretty good service for how crowded it can get. And, the drinks are typically stiff. It's more of an upscale dive bar, if that makes sense!"

  • 7

    J6 Bar

    Local Expert Tip: "If you're in the downtown area and looking for a place that's a bit swanky, try J6. It's fairly mellow, with lounging and fire pits on the roof of Hotel Solamar, but you can order a specialty cocktail or nice glass of wine (or two)."


  • 8

    Jordan (JRDN)

    Local Expert Tip: "This is by far the hippest place to have a cocktail in Pacific Beach. The food is excellent so don't forget to eat! It's an upscale bar located on the Pacific Beach boardwalk where the view of the beach and ocean is spectacular."

  • 9

    Shakespeare Pub & Grille

    Local Expert Tip: "Shakespeare's probably serves the most authentic fish and chips in San Diego, when you have the hankering for the real deal. It's a British pub in SoCal."

  • 10

    Pacific Beach Bar and Grill

    Local Expert Tip: "It's super casual and the crowd skews to early 20s. Read: lots of college students, but they love it."


Ready for Your Dream Vacation?