Food & Drink

The 7 Best Dive Bars in San Diego

Published On 01/25/2016 Published On 01/25/2016
Ellen Wright/Thrillist (edited)
Ellen Wright/Thrillist

Captain Keno’s


If the boat’s a-rockin’ you’ve probably had a few too many of Kenos’ dirt-cheap well drinks. The interior feels like a wooden pirate ship -- it’s dark with plush red leather booths and, if you’re lucky, a few crusty-looking sailor types. This place doesn’t start seeing a younger crowd until at least 10pm on a Friday or Saturday, which is unfortunate, seeing as last call is at 11pm. No fear, Encinitas has a plethora of late night joints open until 2am, making Keno’s the perfect jumping off point.

Ellen Wright/Thrillist

High Dive Bar and Grill

Bay Park

High Dive is the dive for craft beer lovers with more than 20 local draughts and regular tap takeovers showcasing local breweries. It’s got pinball and a good amount of TVs, making it a good spot to watch a game, since ain’t NOBODY making the drive up to Carson City for a Charger game (if that does, in fact, eventually go down).

The Tower Bar

City Heights

Home to drinks like the Hello Kitty Duck Fart, Tower Bar is just about as unpretentious as it gets. Named after the tower that sits above it, it's half dive bar, half music venue. Don’t go expecting to hear a lick (or beat?) of EDM or pop radio jams -- it’s pure rock n’ roll.


Aero Club

Mission Hills

If you’ve been to the San Diego Airport, there’s a 95% chance you’ve driven by the Aero Club and its bright red neon airplane (it's tough to miss). It’s what is inside this venerable dive that makes it a must-try: the bar is home to more than 800 different whiskies, making it one of the most absurdly well-stocked whiskey bars in America.

The Silver Fox Lounge

Pacific Beach

Perhaps the only place in San Diego with an early morning happy hour, Silver Fox opens its doors at 6am offering Bloody Marys and screwdrivers. It's the less clean Sunday brunch version of a hangover cure, but it’s a dive bar, so no judgment here! There are also a ton of games, including pool, darts, and a pinball machine, making it a good place to hang out in the evening, or daytime, too. Really, there's no wrong time to hit the Silver Fox.

Ellen Wright/Thrillist

Star Bar

Gaslamp Quarter

Located in the Gaslamp, Star Bar has stiff, cheap drinks and low lights. Vintage tattoo flash lines the walls while ships sail above on the ceilings, throwing it way back to a time when the Gaslamp’s biggest clientele was a bunch of sailors.

Ellen Wright/Thrillist

Pacific Shores

Ocean Beach

If you want to escape the rowdy PB scene, head over to the nautically themed Pacific Shores. There's almost always an empty table, and you can nab a drink for $2.50, all beneath giant clam decor that feels straight from the '80s. This may not be the spot to bring a date, (although what dive bar is?) but for a chill night catching up with friends, this place fits the bill.