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Aug 22, 2008 10:08 AM

Dive Bars..San Diego

Love Love Love a great dive bar..
Pacific Shores in Ocean Beach and Nunu's in Hillcrest are some of my fav's.
Star Bar in the Gaslamp, Night Owl in PB and Jamacha Junction in El Cajon are some real beauties..
What's your favorite dive bar?

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  1. I'm with you- a good dive bar makes me forget I am in sunny, shiny CA and brings me home to Philadelphia. The Waterfront is my favorite hands down. We also like the Alibi in Hillcrest and the Kensington Club. When we stay closer to home we hit the Library in San Carlos and Pete's Place in La Mesa. Gotta love a bar with no windows.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bethsd

      Tell me about The Library, I drive by it almost every day and I've always wondered about it.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        It's a good place to get a beer- if you don't mind a slightly smelly carpeted floor. No food- no exciting wine list- but stiff cocktails and they are usually kind enough to card me. It is a mix between college age kids and the 30-40ish crowd and most people look like they just rolled out of bed. Pool tables and dart boards and high tops.

      2. re: bethsd

        love the Waterfront but since the condos went up its almost gotten a bit too popular; am a big fran of their Texas burger with cheese and onions...

        1. re: ibstatguy

          Texas cheeseburger with onions.....yum!
          No fries..they blow.

          1. re: Beach Chick

            and you won't find me touting the fries on any of the threads about same; its a shame they make such a good burger and such lousy fries...

      3. I can hit Nunu's with a rock from my office but I find the looks of the place intimidating. How divey is it? And how is the food? What do your order there, if anything? I hear the burgers are pretty good. Just cant get the nerve to go in there ....

        2 Replies
        1. re: sdnativa

          Nunu's is a classic SD dive. Even years after we moved out of SD it is the first place we stop when we get back to town. It's a classic dive bar in the morning afternoon (they open at some ridiculously early hour) and quite packed with young hipsters at night.

          Damn. Just fell prey to a 4yr old post like the person below me! Damn you new site layout!

          1. re: jdwdeville

            Nunu's besides being such a great upscale dive with those Naugahyde booths, it makes a kick ass burger too!

        2. Champs in Clairemont/Bay Ho. We were surprised to find college kids in there. This dive has pool tables, interesting locals, and somewhat strong cocktails (depending on who pours); all requirements for Best Dive Bar, in my book.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ginael

            Are Champs sparkleballs up for Christmas yet?? (OK so I just asked a question of a person four years ago and can't delete it)

            1. re: ginael

              This one gets my vote, too. I'd add Blarney Stone Pub at Balboa/Genesee to the list (no windows, no food, just beer, wine, and booze, a jukebox, and some electronic games), but maybe they have too many quality beers to qualify as a true dive.

              1. re: DoctorChow

                Even dives in San Diego have respectable beer selections - comes with the territory. The Blarney Stone probably could qualify, though with the live music they probably are a bit elevated from that status.

                1. re: DoctorChow

                  @DoctorChow - since when [in San Diego] do Guiness and Bass translate to quality beers? hahaha

                  Fair Disclosure, I haven't been in almost 10 years when we used to grab said beers and watch the locals get together on Tuesdays to play Irish folk music. Irish beer hasn't evolved in that time, so maybe they are getting decent craft beers in alongside the mainstays?

                  1. re: MrKrispy

                    Well, I for one do like Guiness, and they serve it pretty fresh there. Also very fresh on tap is Bodington and Smithwick, which are also very nice Irish beers in my opinion, by the same company. You can't really get Guiness here that's as good as it is in Great Britain, but when it's fresh, the imported kegs aren't bad. Blarney Stone does have other beers like Goosneck (pale ale, I think) and I've had an IPA there but don't recall the name. I've never had Bass at Blarney Stone, since I don't care for it. The scene after 10 (I recall weekend Iish music) was fun and lively but I haven't been there for that in years.

              2. Some entries from a list I made on another board:

                Hong Kong Nite Club:1030 Broadway, SD, Ca. Phone: (619) 239-4798
                A classic Dive Bar that is not only not a Night Club, it has nothing to do with Hong Kong! With 2 Pool tables, cheap drinks, and a jukebox that runs the gamut from Led Zeppelin to Patsy Cline, this is a good place to start or finish a night of bar hopping.

                Lancer's Cocktail Lounge: 4671 Park Blvd., SD, Ca. Phone: (619) 298-5382
                Stop in at this tavern and you can sit at the long padded bar, play pool, or relax in one of it's couchettes. Little has changed in here since it's opened back in the '60s except some of the records have worn out in the jukebox & been replaced and the smokers now have to go outside.

                The Lamplighter: 817 W. Washington, SD, Ca. Phone: (619) 298-3624
                A classic old style tavern, full of regulars who are full of booze, updated with a Karaoke machine. You can get loaded & sing "Son of a Son of a Sailor." Not that I would, but you could if you like, and I mean thaty in the best possible way.

                Pacific Shores: 4927 Newport Ave., SD, Ca. Phone: (619) 223-7549
                "Walking into this small, dim bar is like stepping into a giant underwater aquarium -- filled with extremely hip fish." An underwater mural faces a long, curving bar with comfortable swiveling stools and lit by dark blue neon while '40s & '50s standards play on the jukebox. If you tend toward pick-up lines, leave the horoscope ones at home. Here, baby, everyone is a Pisces.

                China Inn: 877 Hornblend St, San Diego, Ca. Phone: (858) 483-6680
                Ric, Monica & Elinor Widmer's favorite place. Deep, Red Naugahyde booths, real Chinese food Cheap (as opposed to Cheap Chinese food. Check out the Peking Duck for $20), and strong tropical drinks make it great for Date Night.

                Red Sails Inn: 2614 Shelter Island Dr., San Diego, Ca. Phone: (619) 223-3030 Website:
                Old-School Nautical Decor, a back patio with a view of the San Diego "fishing fleet," and serves Seafood centric Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner menus. Ultra Casual; it's the kind of place where you can walk off your boat in shorts, t-shirt & flip-flops and sit down to a Crab Benedict for Breakfast, Fish & Chips for Lunch, or a Lobster Newburg Dinner. Service can vary, and sometimes food quality can, too, a good bet on the menu are any of the multitude of fried shellfish.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Freddie Freelance

                  RE: Lancers - my crowd used to go in there quite a bit until a couple of years ago. When they got a new crew in, the bartender they hired was a complete jerk. Tony always knew us, and, back in the old days, the older lady - Goldy, I think - was a gem. But the new guy had the personality of a brick wall, and acted like he was doing us a huge favor by serving us. We'd always drop a chunk of change in the place but we haven't been back since. Too bad because I loved their jukebox (everything from Sinatra to the Nekromantix).

                  SDNativa, Nunu's is pretty laid back and the burgers ARE good. Maybe go in during the day when it's not busy to get a feel for the place, talk to the folks that work there, and then you'll be more comfortable when you decide to drop in again.

                  Back in the old days when I was going to school, I used to be able to stop in the Old Town Saloon for a brew and some pinball or pool. It was on my way home, and I got to know the owners and the folks who worked there. It's nice when a female can walk into a bar by herself and feel completely at ease. And I'm pretty sure I could still hold my own on any pinball machine. ;-)

                  1. re: phee

                    Agreed on Lancer's . Went in a couple of years ago and the bartender (some young chick) didn't know what a boilermaker was! Really? That was the last time we went there. I like The Alibi (better before it was redone, but still fun when it's not too crowded) and Live Wire (when I can get a booth). I also like Downtown Johnny Brown's. Alas, I've never found anything I love as much as my local bar back in Philly.

                    1. re: Divamac

                      admittedly working with a loose definition here but I don't think Johnny Brown's is a dive bar

                2. Turf Supper Club on 25th in Golden Hill is good, if you don't mind grilling your own dinner. The drinks are good, it's a fun place to hang out. And, while not a bar, but Luigi's right across the street is great for pizza (NY style) and a beer.