Entertainment & Events

Slightly off the beaten path, part I: Lesser known bars in San Diego

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How does a small bar in San Diego go about making its mark when it’s up against the likes of club behemoths such as Stingaree and Voyeur?

Attempting to stand out amongst such a celebrity crowd is akin to being able to spot the lone misfit in a sea of supermodels – in other words, no one’s even paying attention. The reality is harsh yet the fact remains that San Diego’s nightlife scene is a fickle one – one that is forever coaxing a hefty percentage of club-revelers to only its trendiest of venues, promising that they are the places to see and be seen, with just a tiny print disclaimer that one may need to sacrifice fun for fashion.

However, should there come a night when you simply do not find it in you to deal with long lines, steep covers, or power-tripping bouncers, the good news is that you don’t have to. And you can still have fun… possibly even more fun.

Our fine city is actually teeming with lesser-known treasures that most people walk briskly past – most likely on their way to Sting – without so much as a second glance; however, doing so is definitely to their detriment as these places are not just hosts to the average pre-party, but rather worthy destinations of their own.

We dared to venture off the beaten paths of Hard Rock and Ivy and were ecstatic (and relieved!) to discover an overabundance of smaller bars and lounges that are just as fun and cutting-edge as any of the ‘now’ locales. In fact, we stumbled upon so many- many of which merit their own reviews- that we have had to break this story up into parts in order to effectively spotlight each one.

Here we feature a few:

LoungeSix: This unpretentious yet luxurious tropical get away is located on the roof of Hotel Solamar alounge-six-new-15Apr2009022052855125nd can only be accessed via a private elevator from 6th Avenue. It’s a rainforest escape comprised of lush greenery, plush couches, tucked-away cabanas, a shallow water pool, and cozy fire pits- all set against the spectacular backdrop of the city skyline. The bar features only top-shelf spirits as well as fresh, organic bites such as rosemary fries or grilled portabello sliders. The down-tempo electronic soundtrack featuring mostly underground artists and a projector-based movie screen playing vintage film kung-fu fighting scenes give this island retreat the perfect contemporary twist to make it one-of-a-kind. And with no cover, it just may be paradise.

Basic: Don’t let the name fool you. Who knew partying in a former warehouse could be so much fun? Built in the early 1900s, this hip East Village restaurant/bar has kept the original brick walls and high ceilings, lending it a raw, industrial vibe that attracts a hip, fun urban crowd. It features a massive dance floor with an even more massive wooden ceiling fan and DJs spinning hits that will keep you grooving all night long. Did we mention their kitchen serves some of the best and largest thin-crust pizza in town until 2 a.m.? All things considered, we can assure you the hike out to 10th Avenue is more than worth the effort, as basic this bar is anything but.

41940207p1Candelas: This 3rd Avenue latin-fusion restaurant/bar offers a scene that is as fun as it is elegant. The intimate setting, lively international crowd, and bumping afro-cuban house music unlike anywhere else in town almost make it feel as though you’re at a super nice house party with your closest friends rather than at an upscale downtown establishment with a group of mostly strangers. With breathtakingly beautiful and classic decor reminiscent of an old-style Mexican rat pack haunt, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an alternate world. And once you start shaking your booty to tecnho merengue with a mojito in hand, you won’t be able to help but feel that all’s well with this alternate world.

To be continued!

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