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San Diego Travel Guide

The 10 Best Bars in San Diego

Don’t miss the Tiramisu 'Tini.

Many things can be true about San Diego at the same time. For instance, the city’s reputation for being a laid-back beach town boasting some of the best weather year-round is true. The fact that San Diego has become synonymous with craft beer and has even been called the craft beer capital of the country is also true. And as the city’s culinary scene has continued to evolve over the years, so has its cocktail culture and bar scene. Now teeming with a mix of funky dive bars and stellar tiki lounges, secret speakeasies, and neighborhood apothecaries that harken back to a bygone era, these temples of cocktails (and mocktails) will whisk you away.

1 OF 10

Part-Time Lover

WHERE: North Park

Stevie Wonder fans might like the sound of Part-Time Lover. A relative newcomer to San Diego’s bar scene, this retro Japanese-inspired hotspot in the buzzy North Park neighborhood is a multi-concept record store, music venue, and bar that has become a haven for music and Japanese whiskey lovers. The bar’s approachable cocktail menu, with emphasis on highballs, is serving killer vibes in one of the coolest spaces in town right now.

2 OF 10

Raised By Wolves


You wouldn’t expect a bar in the middle of a suburban mall-like Univerity Town Center (UTC) to be much to write home about. However, as you make your way into the bottle shop, behind the revolving faux fireplace, and into the opulent and art deco world of Raised by Wolves, you’ll enter into a bygone era you’ll never forget. You can’t go wrong with any of the cocktails here, but for something truly decadent, don’t miss the Tiramisu Tini’ for a sweet dessert drink that you’ll be dreaming about for a long time.

3 OF 10

Polite Provisions

WHERE: Normal Heights

A charming 1920s-inspired neighborhood apothecary and cocktail lounge in Normal Heights, Polite Provisions has been whisking patrons away to a bygone era for over a decade. With a bespoke cocktail program rooted in homemade bitters and tonics, an incredible happy hour menu, and a well-curated list of delicious handcrafted cocktails, this inviting and comfortable space is just a delightful spot to post up and stay a while. If you get hungry, you’re in luck. The bar doesn’t have a kitchen, but you’re welcome to order snacks from their sister property, Fortunate Son, right next door.

4 OF 10

Oculto 477

WHERE: Old Town

Once you enter into the super secret underworld of Oculto 477, there’s no going back. Set inside a restaurant that directly abuts San Diego’s historic El Campo Cemetery in the heart of Old Town, make your reservations in advance, and get ready to imbibe on your choice of elevated craft cocktails and mocktails. Artisanal Mezcal is the name of the game here, and if you want to risk it all, a simple roll of the dice will decide your cocktail’s fate for you.

5 OF 10

The Whaling Bar

WHERE: La Jolla Cove

Perfectly perched over La Jolla Cove inside San Diego’s iconic La Valencia Hotel, The Whaling Bar is easily one of the slickest places to sit and sip and pop a bottle of bubbles, enjoy a glass of wine, or, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, a parmesan fat-washed Tito’s cocktail. Once a popular celebrity hangout, this local gem also offers a martini hour menu along with delightfully elevated bar bites that include duck meatballs, Caesar “twinkie” salad, and a spicy Za’atar chicken sandwich you don’t want to miss.

6 OF 10


WHERE: East Village

A diminutive speakeasy that’s tucked away within a beer bar in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood, Youngblood is an immersive cocktail experience like no other. There’s no set cocktail menu here, and with just 16 seats at the bar, be prepared for a participatory journey into the world of handcrafted cocktails, all based on your spirit and flavor profile of choice.

7 OF 10

The Lion’s Share

WHERE: Gaslamp Quarter

A mix of wonder, whimsy, and wonderful cocktails await at The Lion’s Share. One of San Diego’s most eclectic and playful cocktail bars, this is a great spot to come with friends in tow who are looking for a place to sit, sip, and eat meat-heavy bar bites before setting out for a night in San Diego’s nearby Gaslamp Quarter.

8 OF 10

False Idol

WHERE: Little Italy

Tiki bars are a dime a dozen these days, but False Idol has made its mark on San Diego’s bar scene over the years. That is if you can find it. The bar is tucked away behind a secret entrance of Craft & Commerce, and from their delightful swizzles to a fizzy twist on the Singapore Sling, there’s a lot to love about the wide variety of mouthwatering drinks, delightful tiki decor and always a good time kind of vibe. While the space doesn’t take itself too seriously, the drinks definitely pack a punch. Don’t miss the painkiller, which is easily the best in town.

9 OF 10

Realm of the 52 Remedies

WHERE: Kearny Mesa

Paying homage to ancient Chinese medicine, rest assured once you enter through the passageway and into the Realm of the 52 Remedies, you’ll find an elixir to cure whatever ails you.  This sexy space serves up seasonally-inspired cocktails inspired by cultures from around the world. The current 2024 spring and summer menu highlights flavors and cocktail recipes hailing from the Philippines. Whatever you do, don’t skip over this delightful Kearny Mesa haunt.

10 OF 10

Wolf in the Woods

WHERE: Mission Hills

One of San Diego’s most delightful date night spots, Wolf In The Woods is a wonderful new addition to San Diego’s bar and restaurant scene. Set in San Diego’s utterly charming Mission Hills neighborhoods, sit alfresco and let Petra, the wonderful in-house sommelier, guide you through a variety of wines sourced from around the world. Of course, if you get hungry, you’ve come to the right place. From snacks and charcuterie to a cheese board, tapas, and tostas, there’s no better place to sit and spend an evening in San Diego right now than Wolf.