Best Pacific Beach Bars for the Young or Young at Heart

As the name implies, Pacific Beach is on the beach between La Jolla and Mission Beach. The clientele you'll find here usually skews on the young side–college age and young professionals. The bars are mostly casual in nature with perhaps the exception of Tower 23's JRDN, where a nice dress wouldn't be too out of place.

Slowly but surely, more gentrified options are opening in the area. For upscale eats in a contemporary dive bar setting, The Duck Dive is a major player on the PB bar scene. Locals love duck fat fries, clean bathrooms and other gourmet eats. Or, check out Crushed, with its trendy ambiance, great value eats and craft beer. However, despite a rejuvenation of sorts, these spots do turn into a nightlife scene after dinner service and can get a bit festive during weekend sports.

In addition to bars, Pacific Beach has casual shopping and, of course, the beach. It's a fun area for those who prefer a youthful atmosphere.


This is one place in Pacific Beach that draws in a mixed-age crowd all day long and well into the evening. Cass Street Bar and Grill is rarely empty with people coming for a casual drink, a game of pool or shuffleboard or perhaps a quick bite to eat. Order through the window and take the plate to our table. Favorites include chicken baguette, cioppino, and the teriyaki steak sandwich. Note that this is a beer-only establishment, basically, as they don't have a hard liquor license. Sake-based cocktails are on offer, however. This bar is off the main drag in a more residential neighborhood.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: It's much less hectic than other bars in Pacific Beach, which is why it draws a mixed crowd.

Katie's expert tip: Come hungry as the food is surprisingly good. Try the steak sandwich.

Read more about Cass Street Bar & Grill →

Fans of Pacific Beach Alehouse rave about the rooftop seating area and delicious beer on tap. It's a brewery that uses only premium ingredients and hops harvested around the world in their 8 signature beers. Favorites include the Whitewash Wheat which is a Belgian-style white beer or the PB Porter which is a dark ale with hints of toffee and roasted chocolate. Have a look at the tanks through floor to ceiling windows PB Alehouse has a lodge-like vibe too it with wooden booths. The food on offer (sauces and even desserts) is also infused with a bit of homemade beer.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: It's a brewery with 8 signature beers, rooftop al fresco dining and great service.

Katie's expert tip: Drink al fresco on the patio upstairs for fabulous ocean breezes and views.

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Pacific Beach

This gastropub in Pacific Beach conveniently-located on Mission Boulevard draws in a ton of walk-in traffic for a good reason. The atmosphere is of a casual beach lounge that offers an elevated drinking experience by offering classic cocktails, craft cocktails and local beer. This isn't typical bar food. Favorites include baked brie, Dive caprese salad, herb-crusted rib eye, barbecued rotisserie style chicken sandwich, tableside s'mores and more. Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. There's a small dance floor and music which can be loud, at times. The interior is contemporary with nice bathrooms (rare, in Pacific Beach). It's a block away from the beach.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: It's a clean, modern "dive" in a great location.

Katie's expert tip: Not many places around town offer tableside s'mores! The duck fat fries are awesome, too.

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Backyard Kitchen & Tap is a coastal American eatery with a from-scratch menu that is located about a block away from the beach in Pacific Beach. Go for favorites like jerk chicken or a hearty burger paired with a beverage from the long list of craft cocktails and beer. It's popular also because of its size with three cabanas, indoor and outdoor bars, a pet-friendly and kid-friendly patio and live music. Multiple TVs on the inside make it a local favorite for watching sports. There is certainly a lively nightlife scene here on evenings, especially over a weekend. (Note: It's in the location of the former Pacific Beach Bar & Grill.)

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: It's a block away from the beach with a great outdoor patio space and TVs for sports..

Katie's expert tip: Nightlife revs up after the dinner scene clears out. Otherwise, it's a nice family and pet-friendly restaurant during daylight.

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Pacific Beach

Literally just steps from the sand, PB Shore Club is a perfect place to take a break from soaking up rays or watch an incredible sunset. The menu has an emphasis on Mexican food such as surf & turf quesadillas, lobster tacos, California burritos and more. In fact, they are known for delicious fish tacos--a San Diego tradition. Breakfast is a new addition. The drinks are large with a long list of local brews. The space isn't huge, which means it can get crowded. Try to grab a seat along the area with open windows to enjoy the ocean breezes.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: Its beachfront location provides and excellent place for a cold beer and a sunset.

Katie's expert tip: They have a kids menu, but it can get loud during peak times for young ones.

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Pacific Beach

Located in a historic building in Pacific Beach just 5 blocks away from the beach, newly-renovated Tavern is a local favorite. Garage doors roll up to let in the coastal air and the option to sit outside. The ambiance is festive, especially at the new tables with taps on the walls that allow guests to serve themselves. Over 40 TVs with premium satellite packages make this a go-to spot on game day. The food is gourmet pretzel-related but well-rounded with sandwiches, salads and bar snacks. Though loads of craft beer is available, specialty cocktails are, too. Check online for daily specials.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: Table-side taps, German Coastal food and ocean breezes make this a one-of-kind stop.

Katie's expert tip: Like pretzels? This is the place for you. Gourmet pretzels feature in salads, burgers, chips and more.

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Pacific Beach

Barrel Republic's concept is unique in that it provides beer lovers the freedom to self-pour their own beer. This also allows guests the freedom sample as many as they like in the process. Put money down on a wristband or card. Head to the taps where an explanation of each beer and a glass recommendation is given. Grab the appropriate glass and dispense what you like. A sensor monitors how much beer you're pouring and debits the wristband or card accordingly. Not feeling like beer? They also have some wines on tap, great food and complimentary popcorn to munch on.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: There's no other place like it in Pacific Beach where you can self-pour.

Katie's expert tip: Drink here and also fill up on complimentary popcorn.

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Pacific Beach

JRDN is beachfront Tower 23 Hotel's 10,000-square-foot contemporary oceanfront steak and seafood restaurant that features casually-sophisticated cuisine. If you need a hip and trendy place that's less hectic than Gaslamp options, here's your place. Lounge with your companions, listen to live music and enjoy a specialty cocktail along with ocean breezes. JRDN has indoor/outdoor seating right on the Pacific Beach boardwalk which makes for excellent views and people watching. The clean, simple but modern decor includes color-changing lights and a giant water wall. It's probably the hippest place in Pacific Beach to have a drink and you can even bring your laptop because there's WiFi.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: It's much more upscale than the rest of the college student-oriented bars in the area.

Katie's expert tip: The hip JRDN patio is right next to the Pacific Beach boardwalk providing amazing sunsets, craft cocktails and a full menu.

Read more about Jordan (JRDN) →

Pacific Beach

The rapid rise to success of Crush is proof that gentrification can be well-received in Pacific Beach. The all-day eatery and watering hole is open daily and features brunch food (omelets, flatbreads, sliders and more with a Mexican, Italian and Spanish flair), mimosas and breakfast beer drinks. The owners brightened up the space before opening, adding things like a beach-themed mural and maple communal tables. Wine and other craft beers are available, too. But people go for the food as much as they do for drinking. There is also a kids menu and most dishes are priced under $10.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: Crushed has a great vibe, delicious food and good drinks at a reasonable price.

Katie's expert tip: This is one place where you can eat brunch every day.

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Pacific Beach

The Grass Skirt is new to the San Diego dining and nightlife scene and already people love it. It's a hidden tiki bar located inside Good Time Poke, a grab-and-go poke spot that is open in the evenings until 2:00 a.m. The goal is to use traditional tiki elements interlaced with seductive details to transport guests to a place of eternal sunset complete with fire pit tables and swings. Yes, expect a variety of tropical cocktails here (including a secret cocktail menu that you may want to ask about). They also have over 150 rums including some very rare and pricey options.

Recommended for Pacific Beach's Best Bars because: Pacific Beach needed a cool night time spot that didn't speak to only college students. This is it.

Katie's expert tip: You can order pork buns and poke at The Grass Skirt, too.

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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