Food & Drink

9 of the oldest bars in San Diego

Published On 11/26/2014 Published On 11/26/2014
Natalie Holtz
Tower Bar
Waterfront Bar & Grill
Pacific Shores
Natalie Holtz
Lancer's Cocktail Lounge
The Lamplighter
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1. Tivoli Bar & Grill 505 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

A great Padres bar, Tivoli ramps it up a few notches with NINE hours of happy hour each day (12-7pm, and again 10pm-12am). Pair those $3 wells and domestic drafts with some of their wings and you're good to go.

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2. Tower Bar 4757 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105

You can't miss Tower Bar, just look in the sky for the art deco monolith and it'll point you the way to cheap drinks.

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3. The Waterfront Bar and Grill 2044 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

The Waterfront Bar and Grill, San Diego's oldest tavern, has got a sick happy hour -- plus, you can drink all day and scarf down awesome bar food like their THREE different varieties of grilled cheese!

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4. Pacific Shores Bar 4927 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107

This under-the-sea-themed landmark opened on December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor was bombed. Patrons love the (insanely) cheap drinks, kitschy decor, and authentic jukebox, which plays everything from Patsy Cline to The Clash.

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5. The Aero Club Bar 3365 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

The first thing you’ll notice after landing at Lindbergh Field is a pink neon sign glittering in the distance. Let it guide you to this San Diego drinking den that's been serving whiskey aficionados since 1947. The Aero Club boasts some 800 bottles of whiskey stacked like glass bottle-shaped Legos behind the bar; more than a sight to behold, this infamous liquor wall is one of the largest whiskey collections in the country.

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6. The Red Fox Steakhouse and Piano Bar 2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Located in the east wing of the Lafayette Hotel, this piano bar and steakhouse was originally an old inn in Surrey, England, with roots dating back to 1560. Nevertheless, the cool vibe here is still fresh. Stiff drinks and aged meat accompany sweet jazz duets.

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7. Albie's Beef Inn 1201 Hotel Cir S, San Diego, CA 92108

This kitschy hotel bar and restaurant is famous for its steaks, live piano music, and paintings of nude ladies. Add dim lighting, naugahyde booths, and retro dishes, and you feel like the '70s just threw up all over you. In a good way.

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8. Lancer's Cocktail Lounge 4671 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116

NY-transplant Marc "Bubba" Rosenberg bought this 2,000 sq ft windowless, down-and-dirty dive bar in 1978 (which had been established in 1963), and he has been running operations ever since. There are a lot of wild stories surrounding Lancer's, some involving explosions and gunfire. Stop by for a few throwback moments yourself: a pinball machine, juke box, and Photo Hunt (!!) await.

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9. The Lamplighter 817 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

This award-winning karaoke bar and local institution on Washington Street is the place to go in town for botched renditions of Ace of Base, the best people-watching ever, and strong, cheap cocktails.