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.