64 Best Bars in San Diego, California


East Village Fodor's choice
Hidden in plain sight next to PETCO Park, Fairweather is an urban tiki oasis with a top-notch cocktail menu that boasts classics like daiquiris and their signature frozen pina colada alongside modern interpretations of old-school tiki drinks like corpse revivers and mai tais. Come by during Comic-Con in July to view the parade of costumed characters while sipping on a rum refreshment on the balcony.

False Idol

Fodor's choice

A walk-in refrigerator harbors the secret entrance to this tiki-theme speakeasy, which is attached to the full-service restaurant Craft & Commerce. Beneath fishing nets full of puffer-fish lights and elaborate tiki-head wall carvings, the knowledgeable staff serves up creative takes on tropical classics with the best selection of rums in town.  The bar fills up quickly, especially on weekends. Make a reservation online a week or more in advance.


South Park Fodor's choice

Launched by the team behind Kindred, Mothership is a cocktail experience right out of the most fantastical science fiction. Its interior has to be seen to be believed, half of it resembling a cinematic spaceship and the other half looking like the alien worlds it landed on, while the drinks they serve—with names referencing the likes of Alien and Star Trek—are dazzling and delicious tiki concoctions. Reservations open up 21 days in advance but fill up fast, but bar seating is first-come, first-served.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Noble Experiment

Fodor's choice

There are a handful of speakeasy-style bars in San Diego, though none deliver so far above and beyond the novelty quite like this cozy-yet-swank cocktail lounge hidden in the back of a burger restaurant. Seek out the hidden door (hint: look for the stack of kegs), tuck into a plush leather booth next to the wall of golden skulls, and sip on the best craft cocktails in the city. For even more exclusivity, check out the speakeasy-within-a-speakeasy Young Blood, which is an all-inclusive cocktail experience in an adjacent space for the up-front fee of $67.  Reservations are almost always a must, so be sure to call ahead.


Mission Hills Fodor's choice

Bar-goers are dazzled by Starlite's award-winning interior design, which includes rock walls, luxe leather booths, and a massive mirror-mounted chandelier. A hexagonal wood-plank entryway leads to a sunken white bar where creative cocktails, such as the signature Starlite Mule served in a copper mug, are mixed. During warmer months, procuring a spot on the outside wood-decked patio is an art form.

The Casbah

Fodor's choice

This small club near the airport, the unofficial headquarters of the city's indie music scene, has a national reputation for showcasing up-and-coming acts of all genres. Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and the White Stripes all played here on the way to stardom.

The Grant Grill

Fodor's choice
Though the Grant Grill—located on the ground floor of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel—is a full-service restaurant, it's built up a reputation in recent years for stepping up San Diego's craft cocktail game. The cocktail menu is updated seasonally with fresh ingredients and themes (one recently featured a mini "Voodoo" doll frozen inside of a large ice cube), all of which are both innovative and palate pleasant. The atmosphere is comfortable and elegant, even on its busiest nights.

The Grass Skirt and Captain's Quarters

Pacific Beach Fodor's choice

This pair of speakeasies delights guests with high-theme decor and engaging menus. Entering the nondescript storefront, a sign above the desk in the seemingly cluttered travel agency reads "Other World Travel," but the working kitchen behind offers a hint that all is not as it seems. Accessed through a false freezer door on the left, the Grass Skirt tiki bar serves a wide selection of rum-based tropical cocktails and a menu of shareable pupus in delightfully kitsch surroundings. Venturing through the hidden door to the right transports travelers to the refined Captain's Quarters of a 17th-century sailing vessel where small bites are served alongside a gin-centric cocktail menu. Be sure to reserve a table through the website—these hidden gems are no secret!

The Rooftop by STK

Gaslamp Quarter Fodor's choice

At this rooftop bar and lounge atop the Andaz hotel, a fashionable crowd sips cocktails poolside while gazing at gorgeous views of the city. Thursday through Saturday, the scene heats up with a DJ spinning dance music, while velvet ropes and VIP bottle service please the A-listers (like Prince Harry) in the crowd.

Vin de Syrah

Fodor's choice

This "spirit and wine cellar" sends you down a rabbit hole (or at least down some stairs) to a whimsical spot straight out of Alice in Wonderland. Behind a hidden door (look for a handle in the grass wall), you'll find visual delights (grapevines suspended from the ceiling, vintage jars with flittering "fireflies," cozy chairs nestled around a faux fireplace and pastoral vista) that rival the culinary ones—the wine list is approachable and the charcuterie boards are exquisitely curated. This is more than just a wine bar: the cocktails are also worth a try.

Westgate Hotel Plaza Bar

Fodor's choice

The old-money surroundings, including leather-upholstered seats, marble tabletops, and a grand piano, supply one of the most elegant and romantic settings for a drink in San Diego.

Aero Club

Mission Hills

Named for its proximity to the airport, this watering hole draws in whiskey lovers for its unbeatable selection.

Altitude Sky Lounge

Location is everything at this sophisticated lounge on the roof of the 22-floor San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. The views of the Downtown skyline and Petco Park will give you a natural high.

American Comedy Co.

Gaslamp Quarter

At this underground space modeled after the legendary comedy clubs in New York, there's not a bad seat in the house—which is especially great since the venue pulls in some of the hugest names in stand-up comedy.

Amplified Ale Works

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach often veers between the trendy and the tawdry, so this genuine craft brewhouse offers a more casual middle ground. Amplified serves more than a dozen in-house-brewed beers and healthy, vegan-friendly Mediterranean/Californian food at its scenic outdoor beer garden with breathtaking ocean views.

Baja Betty's


Although it draws plenty of gay customers, the festive and friendly atmosphere is popular with just about everyone in the Hillcrest area (and their pets are welcome, too). The bar staff stocks more than 100 brands of tequila and mixes plenty of fancy cocktails.

Bang Bang

Gaslamp Quarter
Part sushi bar and part discotheque, Bang Bang offers both a good culinary game as well as a lineup of superstar DJs providing beats and breaks. It's become famous for its bathroom decor, adorned with images of actor and heartthrob Ryan Gosling.

Bar Basic

This spot is always bustling, in part because it's the place to be seen for Padres fans or anyone else attending events at Petco Park. True to its name, Basic reliably dishes up simple pleasures: strong drinks and hot, coal-fired pizza. The garage-style doors roll up and keep the industrial-chic former warehouse ventilated during the balmy summer.


This gigantic space can resemble either a raucous club or a sports bar, depending on what night you're there. But the drinks are strong and reasonably priced, and the reclaimed wood decor makes for an intimate atmosphere, even when the DJs are spinning mostly Top 40.

Bivouac Ciderworks

North Park
In a town dominated by beer, craft ciders offer a refreshing alternative to the typical IPA. True to its name, Bivouac's design incorporates an open front and an interior seemingly held together by ropes—the rear table with suspended bench seating is a favorite of larger parties. Cider aficionados and newcomers alike can sample a wide range of styles through customizable flights, while skeptics can stick to the selection of wine, craft beer, and fruit-based cocktails (think brandy). The Filipino-influenced menu, much of it gluten-free and vegan, is as big a draw as the cider.

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

Mission Valley
Get your margarita skinny, spicy, or standard, with house-made sours and fresh-squeezed juices, at this prime new spot within Fashion Valley Mall. Don't miss Margarita Monday ($5 classic margaritas until 6 pm) or Taco Tuesday ($4 happy hour tacos until 6 pm).

Cantina Mayahuel

University Heights
The well-respected Cantina Mayahuel carries San Diego’s largest collection of agave-based Mexican spirits—with tequila flights to boot—and is regularly frequented by local service industry pros.

Cat Eye Club

East Village

Separated from the hectic hustle of East Village by just a short and dimly lit foyer, Cat Eye Club might as well be in an entirely different world. More specifically, it's a trip back to the 1960s, with mid-century modern furnishings, a Wurlitzer jukebox and Rat Pack flicks on regular rotation. Their menu of tiki cocktails ranges from simple sips to punch bowls, or for those who prefer their drinks flashier, the Cradle of Life, garnished with a flaming lime wedge.

Charles and Dinorah

Point Loma

Paying tribute to Charles and Dinorah, the property’s original owners, this hotel bar is like stepping back into late ’60s Palm Springs, with a modular orange leather sofa, clean lines, and wood accents. The lobby bar is almost as fabulous as the outdoor pool area, where inflatable balls bob in illuminated water and vintage flicks show on a huge screen. Check their website for the line up. 

Coin Op

Step back into the '80s with this kitschy yet vibrant hybrid of bar and video arcade. The room is stocked with vintage arcade cabinet games like Galaga and Pac-Man, as well as Skee-Ball and other childhood favorites. Yet unlike those trips to the arcade, Coin Op features a rotating menu of craft cocktail creations, including punch bowls, to make those pinball tournaments even more spirited.

Come on the first Sunday of the month for free games all day long.


La Jolla

The stone walls and modern metal accents along the bar give the impression of Cusp being a dark, intimate lounge, but the panoramic views of La Jolla shores brighten up this chic spot on the 11th floor of Hotel La Jolla. Sip on one of their signature cocktails during their daily happy hour from 2 to 6. Live music sets the scene 8–8 on Thursday and most weekends.


Mission Beach

Patrons can have their seaside views and craft beer too at this spacious Belmont Park bar and restaurant. The relaxed, boardwalk atmosphere—and giant wall-size television screen—makes it a perfect spot for lounging after riding some waves at Mission Beach, or to cool down after soaking in some sun.

East Village Tavern & Bowl

Twelve bowling lanes means no more hauls to the suburbs to channel one's inner Lebowski. Lane rental is pricey during prime times, but reasonable if you consider that some nearby clubs charge a Jackson just for admission, though reservations are definitely recommended. From the expansive bar area you can watch sports on 33 flat screens, and the satellite radio plays an assortment of alt- and classic rock.

El Agave Tequileria

Old Town

The bar of this restaurant named for the cactus whose sap is distilled into tequila stocks hundreds of top-shelf brands that are as sip-worthy as the finest cognac.

Fairweather Rooftop Bar

The star of the show here is the rooftop bar; it's a great place to meet for a drink, specializing in tropical treats like Singapore slings and piña coladas, but its location right next to the ballpark makes it such a sweet spot during baseball season. On the main floor, Rare Form is another bar and dining area that serves great tacos and local beers on tap.