Food & Drink

18 San Diego Bars Open on Christmas Day

Published On 12/18/2015 Published On 12/18/2015
Courtesy of Lori Sokolowski

The holidays sometimes mean you need a drink -- but sometimes the eggnog grandma is pushing isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Whether you’re separated from family this Christmas or looking to separate from family this Christmas, these San Diego drinkeries are ready to welcome you with open arms.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Sycamore Den

Normal Heights
Cozying up around the golden fireplace will instantly make SD feel a little more like Christmas, even if it is 65 degrees outside.

Lion’s Share

Nothing says "happy holidays" like delicious cocktails and exotic meats. At least the place isn't serving reindeer.

Courtesy of Spiked

Spiked at Harrah’s

Valley Center
Guarantee yourself a spot on Santa’s naughty list for next year and gamble away that Christmas cash grandma gave you... or win big and send grandma on a cruise. It could go either way.


Mission Hills
It’s officially the last day of the year that it’s acceptable to obnoxiously belt out Christmas songs. Get after it.

Sara Norris/Thrillist


Mission Beach
Only in Southern California can you get away with drinking at an oceanfront rooftop bar on Christmas Day. Be sure to send some jealousy-inducing selfies to the fam while you’re sipping that marg.

100 Wines

Go ahead. Order yourself a whole bottle. Merry Christmas.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Tavern at the Beach

Pacific Beach
Depending on how well that family dinner went you can stop by to knock back a few or go all out and tap a whole keg for your table.


North Park
With a beer list a mile long there's bound to be something festive on tap. If not, you still have an infinite number of non-holiday brews to choose from.

The High Dive

High Dive

Bay Park
Nothing reminds you of home like a bar that keeps its Christmas lights up all year long.

Hamilton’s Tavern

South Park
See if you can still name Santa’s reindeer after working your way through this tap list.

Wonderland Ocean Pub


Ocean Beach
Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with this crew?


If Santa neglected to bring you the bacon blue cheese fries you asked for, go here.

Sara Norris/Thrillist


North Park
Christmas was way more fun as a kid, so take your inner child out for some Mortal Kombat II and an adult beverage.

El Dorado

It has My Favorite Things on the cocktail menu. So at least you’ll get one thing you wanted this year.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Duck Dive

Pacific Beach
Have yourself a merry little Christmas Day surf and then come by Duck Dive for a refreshing beverage.

PB Shore Club

Pacific Beach
Come by wearing a onesie and get half off your drinks. Best. Christmas. EVER.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Indigo Grill

Little Italy
Get all international this year and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christo with a tequila shot and some chicharrones.

Shakespeare Pub & Grille

Mission Hills
Do up Christmas like a Brit and celebrate Jolly Old Saint Nick out on the piss.

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Sara Norris will be freezing her tush off in New Mexico this Christmas but wishes you all a happy holiday anyway.

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1. Sycamore Den 3391 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 (Normal Heights)

If the San Diego backdrop of beaches and palm trees has somehow got you itching for a getaway, look no further than Sycamore Den. This masculine, woodsy bar feels like a hidden hunting lodge getaway right on Adams. The '70s vibe comes complete with mounted guns, stone and wood lining, and polished leather booths, and the drinks match with a menu that's got a heavy emphasis on whiskey, rye, and bourbon (in craft cocktails and on their own).

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2. The Lion's Share 629 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

Don't let the taxidermy, mismatched chandeliers, and surrealist paintings distract you from the food and drink at The Lion's Share (easier said than done, we know). This quirky, hunter's den of a restaurant satisfies your carnivorous side with a game-heavy menu of wild boar bolognese, chicken fried quail, elk loin steak, and bison tartare. You don't have to be a totally adventurous eater though to take part in the fun: the menu includes tamer plates like an aged white Cheddar-topped burger, hand-cut truffle fries, and roast chicken. Both the expected and unexpected offerings pair well with whiskey cocktails and if you can handle it, absinthe.

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3. Spiked at Harrah's 777 Harrah's Rincon Way, San Diego, CA

This hip spot in Harrah's Resort and Casino serves edgy takes on classic cocktails and is only a short drive out of the SD.

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4. The Lamplighter 817 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Mission Hills)

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.

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5. Sandbar 718 Ventura Pl, San Diego, CA 92109

Located right on scenic Ventura Beach, Sandbar offers award-winning tacos, along with a selection of tasty burgers and seafood and 66 high-end tequilas and mezcals -- including its own hand-selected barrel of tequila from Herradura Tequila distillery in Guadalajara, Mexico. Best of all, you can imbibe with a view of the sunset over the Pacific.

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6. 100 Wines Hillcrest 1027 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

Mediterranean cuisine with lots of good wine pairings.

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7. Tavern at the Beach 1200 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

Tavern at the Beach can be found in Pacific Beach, offering a great beer selection, taps at the table, and a menu with double battered bacon.

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8. High Dive Bar & Grill 1801 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

Park Bay's High Dive Bar & Grill lives up to its name with a laid-back and fun atmosphere, but surprises with indulgent and zany American food that your typical dive bar surely lacks. Twenty craft beers are on tap, plus a few spirits (options rotate but expect vodka, gin, or rum). Burgers are an obvious choice here, featuring unpredictable takes like a beef patty stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeños. The king of them all is the Kraken, a large beef patty sandwiched between two grilled, Sriracha-infused PB&Js. Swallow that.

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9. Hamilton's Tavern 1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102 (South Park)

Housed in the oldest beer- and wine- licensed location in San Diego, Hamilton’s Tavern is a traditional neighborhood drinkery in the heart of South Park. Named after Marine veteran Herman Hamilton who frequents the bar religiously, Hamilton’s is rooted in a commitment to unparalleled hospitality, making you feel more like a friend than a customer, whether you come in for a beer or a meal. In addition to potato concoctions like garlic truffle tots and Blair-style tots smothered in garlic, green onions, bacon, and Cheddar, snacks include Baja chili dogs, hush puppies, buffalo wings, and banh mi sandwiches. The California-centric beer program features Monkey Paw Brewing Co., Russian River Brewing Co., and other local craft breweries.

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10. Wonderland Ocean Pub 5083 Santa Monica Ave , San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

Overlooking the OB Pier, this tavern is named after a beachfront amusement park that took up residence in Ocean Beach in the early 20th century. Wonderland the amusement park shut down over 100 years ago, but Wonderland the bar is alive and well with a seafood-tilted pub menu that features coconut calamari and grilled tuna sandwiches next to more basic fish & chips and short-rib burgers. The extensive beer list has something for everyone: local craft beer, cider, Coors Lite, and PBR.

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11. Barleymash 600 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

Barleymash sports a pub-ish vibe with brick walls, a 360-degree stone-topped bar, and mad flatscreens.

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12. Coin-Op 3926 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

Take everything awesome about being a kid in the '80s, add a killer craft cocktail list and 20 craft beers on draft and you’ve got Coin-Op, the arcade/bar combo that just opened up in North Park with pinball and more than a dozen vintage games on rotation like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, and Frogger. Score!

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13. El Dorado 1030 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

El Dorado Cocktail Lounge is perhaps as infamous for its cocktails as it is for its rustic aesthetic. Celebrating Western saloons from days of yore, El Dorado bedecks its deep burgundy walls with vintage cowboy scenes in wooden frames and draws your attention to a massive taxidermied white buffalo head (who goes by Otis) suspended above the dance floor. Signature cocktails include the Fetch Me a Cot and the Basic Bitch, but for something even more unusual (but equally delicious), opt for one of El Dorado’s seasonal cocktails.

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14. Duck Dive 4650 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (San Diego)

Duck Dive is an American Gastropub knocking it out of the park in two categories: gourmet food and drinks that include micro-brews and speciality cocktails.

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15. PB Shore Club 4315 Ocean Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

Right on the Pacific Ocean, Shore Club's got great bar fare as well as boozy slushies sure to cool you down on any summer (or any other season) day. There's an open air rooftop patio, and the kitchen is open late night, slinging greasy yet elevated eats (think in terms of sauteed lobster tacos) from 9pm until close. It’s a good thing, too, because you can work up quite the appetite during those Wednesday night goldfish races, which don’t start until 10pm.

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16. Indigo Grill 1536 India St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

This sweet Latin American bistro in the heart of Little Italy serves colorful small plates from land and sea. Can't choose what to get? Try one of their Anticucho boards which give you a little bit of everything (grilled meat, hummus, chimichurri, and flatbread) for $20.

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17. Shakespeare Pub & Grille 3701 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Little Italy)

We all know The Bard loved the brew, so stop by his namesake pub to nosh on English eats and sip cool ales.



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