San Diego Nightlife: From Luxe Wine Bars to Awesome Dive Bars

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 is the unique speakeasy, Noble Experiment, that intimately seats 32 people for mind-blowing cocktails and service. That is... if you can find the secret door.

The tried and true The Aero Club has been 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 800 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 different vibe awaits at Union Kitchen and Tap. It's swanky with gourmet bar food and craft cocktails made with the finest ingredients available. Locals argue that it's just what the area needed: a nice neighborhood establishment where people can enjoy a good drink, people watching and delicious food.

So, let's get down to business. Here's a list of San Diego's 10 best bars. Cheers!

Shakespeare Pub & Grille

A true British pub in sunny southern California? Yes, indeed. The Shakespeare looks like a pub you might find across the pond, with the drinks, food and festivities to match. Try a plate of bangers and mash, a ploughman's lunch, shepherd's pie...  Read More

Pacific Beach

JRDN is beachfront Tower 23 Hotel's 10,000 square foot contemporary oceanfront steak and seafood restaurant, featuring casually sophisticated cuisine. If you need a hip and trendy place that's less hectic than Gaslamp options, this is also your...  Read More

The Waterfront Bar & Grill

San Diego's oldest continuously operating bar, open since 1933, is famous today for its burgers, Bloody Mary's and friendly vibe. Popular with locals and tourists, The Waterfront also offers free popcorn, quick service, and reasonable prices....  Read More

Vin de Syrah is truly a special place to enjoy charcuterie and a glass of wine (or two). Award-winning, Alice in Wonderland-inspired decor literally takes you down the rabbit hole into a surprising mix of old and new, that invites you to sit...  Read More

Union Kitchen is a new neighborhood tavern and kitchen that's getting rave reviews from local residents. New American food and handcrafted cocktails are made from the best ingredients available. Local craft beer and unique small vintage wines...  Read More

Hamilton's Tavern

A favorite with locals, Hamilton's is well-known for its fantastic beer offerings of over 200 bottled beers and 28 draft selections including an exceptional array of Belgian ales and US microbrews. The food menu includes a couple of very tasty...  Read More

The newly expanded 3,300 square-foot space boldly establishes itself on the bustling corner of Kettner Boulevard and Beech Street–visible by the expanded wrap-around patio lined with built-in fire pit tables, ceiling-high bi-fold windows and a...  Read More

Park & Rec is an upscale bar focused on a playful assortment of classically driven cocktails as well as recreation like ping pong and other outdoor games played in its courtyard. The Lo-Baller menu is full of options that are a twist on the...  Read More

Balboa Park

Airplane-and-neon-beer-sign décor aside, this dive bar has a big local following and a number of regulars are there at any given time. There is a gigantic wall of liquors including over 800 whiskeys (yes, you read that right) and 100 vodkas....  Read More

People come for the cocktails and say that you'll never drink a better one. This San Diego speakeasy is found via a somewhat secret door near the door to the kitchen at The Neighborhood. Reservations are by text message only and Noble...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie