Underwear Parties, Country Dance Nights, and More at the Best LGBTQ+ Bars in San Diego
From dive bars to nightclubs to the world’s first gay craft brewery.
Home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country, the San Diego neighborhood of Hillcrest is where much of the city’s queer community has been traditionally centered, but in recent years, gayborhoods have also emerged in North Park, University Heights, Normal Heights and beyond, creating welcoming havens for locals and visitors in search of queer-friendly bars and clubs, as well as restaurants, theatres, retail shops, and other businesses. So whether you’re looking to show off your pride or simply for a new and fun spot to try, we’ve rounded up our favorite LGBTQ+ bars to make your decision that much easier.
Great for a date night, watching sports, or grabbing dinner with friends, Uptown Tavern has a strong craft cocktail game and a menu full of shareable plates, burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, and tavern favorites that focus on local products. Check out happy hour for $7 mules, wells, 14-ounce drafts, and house wine Tuesday to Friday from 4 to 6 pm and Saturday from 3 to 6 pm. Don’t miss the Silent Disco, with three channels of non-stop jams from 9 pm to midnight on the second Saturday of the month.
A safe haven for drinking, dancing, and socializing since 1981, Number One Fifth Avenue hits all the right notes with All Day Happy Hour Mondays, Tigers Pictionary Tuesdays, and karaoke every Wednesday, plus San Diego’s hottest underwear party every third Saturday in the Pride Room.
According to The Lesbian Bar Project, there are only 27 lesbian bars in the United States, but fortunately for San Diegans, Gossip Grill remains a friendly, all-inclusive meeting spot where the ladies always outnumber the guys. There’s a full patio bar and restaurant for day drinking, brunching, and cozy dinners around the fire pits, and after dark, they transform into a nightclub where you can dance yourself silly until the wee hours. Check out Bingo Gone Bonkers, with San Diego’s crankiest drag queen Mariam T on Wednesdays, Finger Me Fridays for rotating DJs, and Smartypants Saturday Trivia Brunch.
Affectionately known as The Hole, this friendly, unpretentious dive bar can be a little hard to find—it was built into an aqueduct excavation and once had a chicken shack as a next-door neighbor. A safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1940s, it boasts one of the largest smoking patios in San Diego and outdoor fire pits perfect for cozy conversations. Ongoing events include Queer Gxrl Thursdays, karaoke, beer pong, DJs on Friday and Saturday, and the popular Sunday Funday beer blasts.
Cheers, a former grocery store, opened as a bar in 1982, the same year as the popular sitcom but without the peacocking hetero vibe. Play pool, chill on the smoking patio, or just hang out chatting with old and new friends in a low-key neighborhood bar atmosphere. Don’t miss Sunday BBQ with Chef Rodney, Sister Gaymes Night every second Wednesday, and Trivia Night on the first and third Thursday of each month.
Fresh flowers, chandeliers, etched glass, and dark red walls give the SRO Lounge a quirky 1960s Mad Men vibe in a distinctly divey atmosphere. It’s open seven days a week from 10 am to 2 am, with a daily happy hour from 2 to 7 pm. Fridays and Saturdays feature trans-friendly Gurls Nite Out weekend socials where you’ll find a mixed-age crowd.
Located in the heart of Hillcrest, Flicks has been a local favorite for more than 33 years. All-day Happy Hour brings joy Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 pm and all day Tuesday, while Welfare Wednesdays feature wallet-friendly $5 well drinks from 8 pm on and no cover all night. If you dare, strut your stuff at Thursday night’s regularly scheduled Undies Contest to win $200.
Originally known as The Brass Rail, this historic haunt from the 1930s first opened in the Orpheum Theatre downtown as a popular lunch spot and after-hours hangout for young professionals. It relocated to the Hillcrest gayborhood in the '60s and now hosts popular weekly events like Puppy Howl Night, Country Dance Nights, and Sábados En Fuego, featuring hot Latin go-go dancers and deeply discounted margaritas, palomas, and seltzers.
There’s nothing not to love about The Loft. The drinks are strong, the bartenders are sexy, and the jukebox is always jamming. In other words, it’s just about the perfect dive bar. A popular first stop for a night of bar hopping or dancing, the charming atmosphere and laid-back vibe might just make you lose track of time and miss stops two, three, and four, not that you’ll regret it. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 11 am to 5 pm with $5 wells and house wines, and daily specials like Tequila Tuesdays and WiBe (wine and beer) Thursdays offer fantastic discounts.
The party never really stops at Urban Mo’s, a het-friendly gay bar famous for its daily bottomless mimosas. Nobody goes hungry at Showtunes Spaghetti Tuesdays, where $7.50 gets you all the pasta you can eat and all the show tunes you can sing along with starting at 6 pm. Miriam T hosts Thursdays themed trivia, and Bubbles for Brunch features San Diego’s only Saturday morning drag brunch.
One of the 50 most popular gay bars in the country, PECS is a beloved stomping ground for bears/cubs and the folks who love them. Stop in on the first Saturday of the month for THIRST night, where $12 gets you three hours of drafts poured by hot beer mongers. Where To Be Wednesdays features $5 wells from 7 pm to closing, making it a budget-friendly option for mid-week drinks, and Furriday Bear Happy Hour gives you $5 wells and drafts, $4 bottle beers and seltzer cans, and $2 off pitchers.
San Diego’s world-class craft beer culture makes it a given that we’d also be the home to the world’s first gay brewery. High ceilings, an Instagram-worthy chandelier, plenty of bar and table seating, and a good-sized, dog-friendly patio make this a favorite hangout for families, locals, and neighborhood sports leagues. The cheeky beer names—like the popular Banana Hammock Scotch Ale and Crotch Rocket Irish Style Red Ale—pair perfectly with the pizzas, wings, and house-made pretzels. Stop by any day of the week from 2 to 6 pm for $2 off drafts, wine, and wells; and $3 pizza slices from 2 to 6 pm on weekdays.
Leather isn’t a requirement at San Diego Eagle—but it’s definitely highly encouraged. Small, dusky, and decidedly masculine, there are plenty of dimly lit corners for close encounters and getting-to-know-you rendezvous. Daily happy hours run until 7 pm, with $5.50 wells, $7 doubles, and $13.50 pitchers of wells; special events include a monthly Saturday Night Underwear Contest, plus other kink and fetish nights, including FF Social Nights, Yellow Hanky Night, Pup Night, and Rubber and Latex Nights.
Rich’s is split down the middle. On a regular night, there’s top 40 in the front room and house in the main room. Mischief Wednesdays are no-cover nights featuring EDM/electro house in the main room, hip hop/pop in the front room, and special drag performances at midnight hosted by KICKXY, while Thursday’s popular Flipped Nights have house/deep house in the front and Latin/hip hop in the main room.