San Diego Dive Bar Guide

Dim Dives Amid Perfect Weather

It would be easy to assume that with perfect weather in an idyllic setting that San Diego drinkers may not have time for a typical dusty dive bar. And while that’s certainly true for parts of the city, San Diego is flush with dive bar options distributed throughout the city, some of them with the kinds of patios that balance the beauty of the area with the familiar comforts of a dimly lit dive bar.

Maybe the city’s most iconic dive bar is The Tower Bar in that it is literally an icon, a massive 110-foot tower taken down due to leaning in 1999 and restored to multi-colored glory in 2009. Built in 1932, the space was intended first as a drive-in soda fountain since repurposed into a handful of bars and restaurants before settling into its dive bar destiny as The Tower Bar.

Not to be outdone in the strip mall dive bar department, spots like Cherry Bomb exist, a relentlessly red & black bar wedged into the corner of a San Diego strip between a laundromat and taco joint. The vibe is very punk rock / death metal, down to the mildly demonic artwork that dots the walls.

And though the owners of Live Wire don’t love the ‘dive bar’ moniker, the phrase is meant with love and recognition for the bar’s unwillingness to waver in the face of encroaching upscale neighbors. One of San Diego’s pioneers in craft beer, Live Wire balances that product selection with an interior that has changed little since opening in 1992.

Perfect weather or not, San Diego is littered with cave-like dives that offer some retreat from the admittedly pleasant sun that permeates the city.

San Diego Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Bankers Hill

Cherry Bomb

2237 1st Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
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East Village

Chee-Chee Club

929 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
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Fox Canyon

The Tower Bar

4757 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105
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Little Italy

The Casbah

2501 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
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Marston Hills

Nunu's Tavern

3537 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
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Ocean Beach

Catalina Lounge

4202 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107
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Ocean Beach

Pacific Shores

4927 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
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Pacific Beach

The Silver Fox Lounge

1833 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
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University Heights

Live Wire

2103 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
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University Heights

The Lancers

4671 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
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Other Dive Bar Options

Reader Submitted

SPACE

3519 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
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Aero Club Bar

3365 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
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Beachcomber

2901 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
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Black Cat Bar

4246 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105
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Camel's Bar & Grill

10330 Friars Rd #106
San Diego, CA 92120
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CJ's Club

222 W Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
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Cricket's Pub

3339 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
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Duke's Cardiff Office

110 Aberdeen Dr # A
Cardiff, CA 92007
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Gilly's Bar

2306 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
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Haunted Head Saloon

207 N Tremont St
Oceanside, CA 92054
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High Dive Bar & Grill

1801 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
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Instant Replay

11681 Duenda Rd
San Diego, CA 92127
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Leucadian Pour House

1542 N Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas, CA 92024
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Lucy's Tavern

4906 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107
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Manhattan Bar

400 Broadway
Chula Vista, CA 91910
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Nite Owl Cocktail Lounge

2772 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
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Old Town Saloon

2495 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
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Open Bar

4302 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
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PB Pub

4471 Gresham St
San Diego, CA 92109
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Sidecar Bar

1310 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
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Silver Spigot

2221 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
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Smitty's Downtown

119 E Broadway
Vista, CA 92084
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Stadium Club

6065 Fairmount Ave
San Diego, CA 92120
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Star Bar

423 E St
San Diego, CA 92101
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The Kraken

2531 S Coast Hwy 101
Cardiff, CA 92007
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The Lamplighter

817 W Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
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The Little Club

132 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118
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The Loft

3610 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
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The Shanty

126 Chesterfield Dr
Cardiff, CA 92007
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The Waterfront Bar & Grill

2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
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The Watering Hole

4766 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92117
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Tivoli Bar & Grill

505 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
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West End

5157 La Jolla Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
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Ye Olde Plank Inn

24 Palm Ave
Imperial Beach, CA 91932
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What Did We Miss?

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