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15 Most Popular Dive Bars in San Diego

Discover the hidden gems of the city’s nightlife scene as we dive into the best dive bars in San Diego that offers an authentic and unforgettable experience.

friends drinking at dive bars in san diego

From dimly lit corners to live music echoing off weathered walls, these local joints embody the city’s laid-back spirit.

Join us in this article as we raise a glass to the unique charm, cheap drinks, and vibrant stories that make these dive bars the heart and soul of San Diego’s social landscape.

The Silver Fox Lounge

1833 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: (858) 270-1343
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The Silver Fox Lounge is one of the best dive bars in San Diego.

This staple is a cash-only spot with a welcoming atmosphere, vintage decor, a free weekend pool, and happy hour starting at 6 am!

Locals and tourists love this spot because they have various theme nights and a fully stocked bar with various options.

You can get mixed drinks, beer, and fun cocktails. I love their bloody marys.

The High Dive

1801 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: (619) 275-0460
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If you’re looking for where to get a drink near Mission Bay, then The High Dive is the place.

It’s a sports bar meets dive bar vibe. They have a great food menu and pinball games to play while you hang out.

While The High Dive’s selection of craft beer is incredible, I love that almost all their cocktails come in fun cups like a weird gummy bear glass.

I love the pina coladas that they serve in a tiki cup.

Star Bar

423 E St, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 234-5575
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Star Bar is nestled between Downtown San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter and is arguably one of the best dive bars in San Diego.

It’s a breath of fresh air from all the upscale bars nearby and has a relaxed atmosphere with pool tables cluttering the bar.

They have pool tournaments and even karaoke!

You’ll find everything behind the bar here. They have the cheapest PBR in the Gaslamp Quarter if you want something affordable.

I suggest sharing a bucket of beer or seltzers while playing pool with your friends.

Aero Club Bar

3365 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-7211
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Middletown’s local watering hole is always filled with people looking for a great time.

The atmosphere is laid-back despite being crowded, and they offer pool tables, pinballs, and funky decor.

If you love sipping whiskey but want a dive bar atmosphere, you’ll love it here.

They have over 1,000 whiskeys for you to choose from. I love their whiskey sour the best, but the aero mule is a close second.

If whiskey isn’t your thing, don’t stress. They have plenty of other options.

Club Marina

1310 Scott St, San Diego, CA 92106
Phone: (619) 222-5932
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You’ll find Club Marina right near Shoreline Park along the water.

It’s a small joint with fun and almost cheesy sailor decor, but that’s part of its charm.

Locals frequent the spot, but you’ll see some tourists every so often looking for a great dive bar.

Club Marina is the kind of bar with no frills but still offers patrons cocktails alongside beer and wine.

They have all the classic cocktails like Moscow mules, margaritas, and old-fashioned.

Live Wire

2103 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
Phone: (619) 291-7450
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Just north of Balboa Park is Live Wire. This bar is a laid-back spot that loves old-school rock music and decor.

You’ll hear the jukebox playing constantly, and it’s the kind of place you can go on a Friday night for a fun night out without being overwhelmed.

The bar menu here is what you’d expect from a dive bar. They have everything besides over-the-top cocktails.

Most people order a pitcher of beer to share with the table, but the mixed drinks at the happy hour are great.

The Tower Bar

4757 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 284-0158
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The Tower Bar is inside the iconic City Heights building and has been since opening in 1932.

This dive bar is a must-see in San Diego because the atmosphere is unmatched, thanks to their live shows and music.

They have a fully stocked bar here, so you can get whatever you want.

They have something for everyone, from classic mixed drinks to cocktails and local beer.

The Lancers

4671 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
Phone: (619) 298-5382
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For those living in University Heights, they’ll tell you the best dive bar nearby is The Lancers.

It’s been a local hangout forever and has pool tables and a rustic wood interior that feels warm and welcoming.

Like other dive bars, they have a fully stocked bar but are no frills. The bartenders are fun, making you anything you ask for.

I usually use a gin and tonic or something simple to match the vibe.

The Kraken

2531 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA 92007
Phone: (214) 930-3501
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The Kraken is on Cardiff Beach and has been named the “world’s greatest beach bar.”

It’s the perfect combination of dive and beach bars. You can enjoy live music, the salty air, and great drinks here.

Beer is the most popular drink to get here, but they have liquor and wine if you aren’t a beer drinker.

Look at their local craft beer options or something simple like cranberry vodka.

Nunu’s Tavern

3537 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 295-2878
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You’ll find Nunu’s Tavern in Marston Hills near the north side of Balboa Park.

The bar has a retro vibe with red booths, bar food, and live music.

It’s been a landmark in San Diego since the 1960s, so you have to pop in even just for one drink.

I love grabbing a bite to eat here because they offer all the best bar bites, like wings and mozzarella sticks.

As for the drinks, they have everything. You wouldn’t think it by the looks of it, but they make a mean espresso martini.

Til-Two Club

4746 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
Phone: (619) 255-1481
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Til-Two Club is an excellent option if you’re looking for fun places to go out in San Diego.

It’s a cozy spot to spend a night on the weekend with live shows, karaoke, and great cocktails.

While they have a fully stocked bar, the cocktails are the show’s stars at this dive bar.

The Til-Two Tai is a classic at this spot, but the peanut butter and jelly is my all-time favorite.

It tastes exactly like a sandwich but with whiskey.

Pacific Shores Cocktail Lounge

4927 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
Phone: (619) 223-7549
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One of the best places to go out in Ocean Beach is Pacific Shores Cocktail Lounge.

It’s an old-style bar with ocean-themed decor, dim lighting, and welcoming staff.

As the name suggests, this is primarily a dive bar serving cocktails, but they also have beer and wine.

If you’re up for a cocktail, you can go with their Manhattan or something simple like a strawberry margarita.

Hearth House

5505 Jackson Dr, La Mesa, CA 91942
Phone: (619) 462-1103
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Hearth House is in La Mesa, and just because it’s in a strip mall setting, keep that from deterring you.

This longtime bar is a favorite for locals looking for great food, good company, and games like pool and shuffleboard.

I love this spot because they have a great happy hour that offers their already affordable drinks for a few more dollars off.

I usually grab a beer here, but their mixed drinks are also a great choice.

Haunted Head Saloon

207 N Tremont St, Oceanside, CA 92054
Phone: (760) 231-7600
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Haunted Head Saloon is one of the most exciting dive bars in Oceanside.

It has exposed brick, happy hours, and a lot of costume parties throughout the year.

You’ll find almost everything you could dream of on the menu at this bar.

It’s a popular party spot, so you’ll see many fun shot options and mixed drinks, but they also have an excellent beer selection.

The Lamplighter

817 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 298-3624
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The Lamplighter is one of the most fun places to get drinks in Mission Hills.

It’s an ample space that only takes cash and has games and karaoke.

I love this spot because no matter what day of the week it is, it’s always a party.

The karaoke is fun to listen to while sipping your beer, wine, or cocktail.

Their lemon drop shots will put you in the mood to sing your heart out.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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