Best Dive Bars in San Diego

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We are all aware that San Diego’s thriving craft cocktail and brewery scene is unparalleled. We are pretty lucky to be home to the leading innovators in spirits, brews, and other tasty libations. But a category less praised is the local watering holes sprinkled throughout the county – dive bars. While the name may not entice many, dive bars are a critical drinkery in every neighborhood. Here, there are no frills. No trendy bartenders in a bow tie or monocle, no insanely overpriced abstract art pieces on the wall, no craft cocktails with ingredients you can’t pronounce or dehydrated lime wheel garnish – just some locals and some good vibes (and probably a pool table).

The Lamplighter – Mission Hills 

A favorite among Mission Hills locals, The Lamplighter is known for its nightly karaoke that runs from 9pm to 1am. People come for the friendly, lively atmosphere that makes having a good time practically effortless. Not to mention, the drinks are great and will certainly loosen you up if you happen to get stage fright.

Live Wire – University Height

Live Wire lives by the mantra of offering its customers “Cold Beer, Warm Friends,” which embodies what a dive bar is all about. For 25 years, Live Wire has been attracting customers with its classic aesthetic, awesome jukebox, friendly service, and cheap drinks. 

The Saloon – Encinitas 

Located in the heart of beachy Encinitas, The Saloon is a classic dive bar that has been in operation since 1934! Here, the drinks are stiff, music is bumping, and a pool table is situated in the back, for those late-night games. 

The Aero Club Bar – Middletown 

Operating as one of the oldest dives in San Diego, The Aero Club is a true delight, especially for those who love whiskey. The interior of this spot is covered out in groovy aviation-themed decor, in line with its namesake. The bartenders are always friendly and knowledgeable, and patrons are even offered free popcorn.

55 Yard Line – San Marcos 

A favorite dive of local college students, 55 Yard Line offers some killer deals all week long. A sports bar through and through, the interior is split into a terrarium pool room and a larger area that features a dance floor and plenty of TVs to catch a game. 

Pacific Shores – Ocean Beach 

A long-time favorite of OB locals, Pacific Shores is a true old school San Diego dive. Decked out in nostalgic beach vibe decor, Pacific Shores knows how to pour em’ stiff for cheap! The place is a cash-only establishment, so keep that in mind before you visit. 

The Casbah – Middletown 

Serving as both an iconic music venue and a legendary punk rock bar, The Casbah is a ton of fun every visit. Known for hosting performances from groups like Nirvana and Arcade Fire, The Casbah continues to host live shows seven nights a week, offering its patrons high energy music. 

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