The 10 Hottest Bars in San Diego

By Darlene Horn | October 5, 2015 By Darlene Horn  |  October 5, 2015
Photo by: Duck Foot Brewing Company

In our latest installment of hottest bars in San Diego, we feature friendly neighborhood enclaves serving everything from handcrafted cocktails to reduced-gluten beer options. Whatever your poison, put these 10 spots on your list of where to belly up to the bar this fall.  

  • High Dive Bar & Grill

    Why It's Hot: Disguised as a low-key bar, this Bay Park haven is slowly transforming into one of the hottest places in town for locals looking to grab a beer or tiki cocktails. And the people behind the transformation, owner Ingrid Alvarez and bar manager Ryan Andrews, have impressive connections that include well-known companies like Ballast Point Beer and Consortium Holdings Projects.

    Must-Drink: Hai-Tai, a take on the classic mai tai featuring Ballast Point aged rum, white rum, lime, housemade curaçao, orgeat and Andrews' R&D Aromatic No. 7 bitters.

    Insider Tip: Look for a complete overhaul of the food offerings by new incoming chef RoseAna Peyron​ in October.

    1801 Morena Blvd.; 619-275-0460

  • Photo by: Panama 66

    Panama 66

    Why It's Hot: Exploring the city's iconic park and museums just got a lot cooler knowing there's a bar nearby. Situated next to the San Diego Museum of Art, this drinking destination features more than a dozen local beers on tap plus cocktails. Grab a seat by the sculpture garden or better yet, bring your pup and hang out in the enclosed grass area with awesome views.

    Must-Drink: Green Flash's 30th Street.

    Insider Tip: Bar closures are common for special events and buyouts; check the website before heading in.

    1549 El Prado; 619-557-9441

  • South Park Brewing Company

    Why It's Hot: North Park may be the hot spot to grab good eats and drinks, but those to the south who are looking for a cool neighborhood vibe should check out this cozy, family-friendly beer haven featuring 13 of its brews on tap.

    Must-Drink: Lime In Da Coconut.

    Insider Tip: The bar also showcases locally caught seafood in any number of its delicious dishes, also available to buy and cook at home.

    1517 30th St.; 619-610-9038

  • Duck Foot Brewing Company

    Why It’s Hot: There are no shortage of breweries in the Mira Mesa area, but those drinkers with celiac disease can rejoice in this new craft brewery that serves delicious gluten-reduced options that appeal to everyone regardless of diet. All beers are brewed using a special enzyme removing nearly all gluten from the beer.

    Must-Drink: Chocolate Hazelnut Porter.

    Insider Tip: Check the website for special events like trivia night.

    8920 Kenmar Dr. #210; 858-433-7916

  • Photo by: David Harrison

    Park & Rec

    Why It’s Hot: There's no shortage of cool hangouts in University Heights, but this newest destination takes several existing buildings and the space between them to create a unique drinking destination with several cozy nooks and an awe-inspiring courtyard.

    Must-Drink: Bean Me Up, Biscotti! — bourbon, coffee liqueur, biscotti liqueur and orange bitters.

    Insider Tip: Grab something to eat at the bar's in-house snack shack. Food created by Royale with Cheese includes burgers, grilled cheese and tater tots.

    4612 Park Blvd.; 619-795-9700

  • The Noble Experiment

    Why It’s Hot: This well-hidden speakeasy in the midst of Downtown San Diego has limited capacity, but attentive bartenders aim to please anyone who can find a way in. Once inside, you'll find a lavish room with a skull-lined wall and dripping crystal chandeliers, which instantly sets the tone for an evening filled with mystery and intrigue.

    Must-Drink: Go with the Dealer’s Choice, based on whatever the bartender's feeling at the moment.

    Insider Tip: Push on a wall of beer kegs to enter the bar from within its host restaurant, The Neighborhood. 

    777 G St.; 619-888-4713

  • Photo by: Common Theory Public House

    Common Theory Public House

    Why It's Hot: The newest place on Convoy — started by two UCSD beer-loving grads — aims to fill in the niche for Asian food like pork-belly katsu with hoisin molasses and frogs' legs served alongside beers from smaller local craft breweries.

    Must-Drink: The Bruery's Sainson De Lente, Alesmith’s Speedway Stout.

    Insider Tip: Beer isn't the only thing that's good. Also try Mostra coffee on tap for a caffeine burst.

    4805 Convoy St.; 858-707-7016

  • Photo by: Fairweather


    Why It's Hot: The second of Consortium Holding’s bar-within-a-bar concept boasts views of Petco Park's baseball field and surrounding Downtown area. The tiki-inspired theme continues onto the drink menu, featuring rum-based drinks with a tropical flair.

    Must-Drink: Trinidad Sunset, a mix of three different rums with crème de cassis and fresh juice.

    Insider Tip: If you’re feeling the hunger pangs, go downstairs to Rare Form, an eatery specializing in handcrafted sandwiches like the pork-belly BLT.

    795 J St.; 619-255-255-6507

  • Tiger!Tiger!

    Why It's Hot: It’s no wonder that the sister bar to popular Blind Lady Ale House (also in North Park) serves up the same local brews, but this time with hefty hunger-busting sandwiches filled with steak and egg and a host of other items from local farms.

    Must-Drink: Wit’s End by Ritual, Boon-Framboise Tart Raspberry Lambic.

    Insider Tip: Head over for the weekend brunches and housemade donuts.

    3025 El Cajon Blvd.; 619-487-0401

  • Polite Provisions

    Why It's Hot: Looking like a drugstore fountain shop, this full-service bar in North Park — run by Erick Castro as part of CH Projects — offers cocktails and housemade sodas in an immaculately decorated setting featuring intricate penny tiles throughout the space.

    Must-Drink: Johnny Utah (blanco tequila, lime juice and housemade celery soda), Fancy Lad Cream Soda (vanilla bean, baking spice, seltzer).

    Insider Tip: Hungry? Order food from Soda & Swine next door and have it delivered to the bar.

    4696 30th St.; 619-677-3784

Places Mentioned

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Polite Provisions

Bar North Park
Atmo.25 Decor27 Service21 CostM
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Noble Experiment

Bar East Village
Atmo.26 Decor27 Service24 CostE
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Park & Rec

Bar University Heights
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Common Theory Public House

Gastropub Kearny Mesa
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South Park Brewing Company

Seafood South Park
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Panama 66

Bar And Grill Balboa Park
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