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

Katie Dillon

By , Local Expert, San Diego
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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...  Read more »

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    Noble Experiment

    Go for a truly unique speakeasy-like experience. It is all about crafting the perfect cocktail here.

    Local Expert Tip: "Even the ice is hand-carved to fit neatly into each glass."

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    The Aero Club

    • Type: Bar
    • Neighborhood: Balboa Park

    The Aero Club has over 800 whiskeys and is considered one of the best whiskey bars in the country, despite its dive status.

    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. "

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    Craft & Commerce

    Craft beer, craft food and craft cocktails at one of America's best bars... what more could you ask for?

    Local Expert Tip: "What's that you hear? Yelp reviews play (mostly negative ones) on a speaker in the bathroom."

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    Vin de Syrah

    It's a mix of unique and common wines are reasonable prices combined with trippy decor that all (drinking) ages love.

    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 do not disappoint."

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    Hamilton's Tavern

    • Type: Bar
    • Neighborhood: Balboa Park

    This neighborhood ale house has a huge selection of beer.

    Local Expert Tip: "It's casual and can get crowded, due to it's popularity with locals."

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    Union Kitchen and Tap

    • Type: Bar
    • Neighborhood: Beach Cities

    It's an option in North County San Diego that leans upscale-casual, with an awesome menu and decent pricing.

    Local Expert Tip: "Highlights include people watching, craft cocktails and a variety of gluten free options."

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    Wine Steals

    Lounge here with friends over a bottle of wine (or two) sans mark-ups or corkage fees.

    Local Expert Tip: "This is for people who love wine and appreciate good value for money."

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    The Waterfront Bar & Grill

    It's San Diego's oldest bar and still popular for stiff drinks and burgers.

    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!"

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    Jordan (JRDN)

    JRDN makes the list as the best option in the bar-heavy Pacific Beach area.

    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."

  • 10

    Shakespeare Pub & Grille

    This is the best British-style pub in town and great for watching sports, especially soccer.

    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."



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