We love the idea of shared spaces—and one of the best in San Diego is in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Barrio Logan. The Acre of Awesome houses three different drinking establishments, starting with Thorn Brewing and their 30-barrel brewhouse and tasting room, where you can sip signature brews as well as unique varieties that aren’t available at their other venues. ReBru Spirits rescues beer that’s either overstocked or nearing its expiration date from being dumped down the drain and upcycles it into small batch craft vodka, gin, and whiskey, which can be purchased by the bottle or in a rotating selection of craft cocktails. Kové Hard Yerba Mate brews and serves up the world’s first alcoholic yerba mate—a native South American plant that’s brewed into a wildly popular, often communally shared beverage. Kové’s version is organic, vegan, gluten-free, and comes in four flavors (so far); mojito, lemonade iced tea, mango colada, and passion berry. When your hunger strikes, the adjacent HottMess pizza joint makes wood-fired pies using the spent grains from local breweries in the crust, and SideYard BBQ serves up pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey, ribs, and more. Check the individual websites for hours of operation.
How to order: Seating is on a first-come basis.
Located next to one of San Diego’s most iconic landmarks, the Campo Santo Cemetery, Tahona features Oaxacan-influenced cuisine and agave-based libations. Executive Chef Adrian Villarreal’s extraordinary craft cocktails and contemporary Mexican flavors are sourced from local, sustainable vendors. Fresh and fruity Whaley House Punch, a combo of mezcal verde, pineapple juice, salted watermelon syrup, Campari, fresh lime, and an absinthe rinse, and The Ancelote, a spirit-forward blend of Abasolo Mexican whiskey, Ancho Reyes
Verde, chipotle habanero honey, and lemon show off the mixologist’s skills, or dive into the smokey world of mezcal with a flight from their collection of nearly 100 bottles.
“Hidden” speakeasies are a bit of a tired concept, but Realm has breathed new life into the idea, starting with the door situated in plain sight at the back of Kearny Mesa’s Common Theory Public House. Behind it lies The Apothecary, a futuristic white space with gleaming jars of exotic herbs and tonics that you can explore and merchandise for purchase. Then, you’ll maneuver through the final passageway, courtesy of master “hidden entrance” designer Michael Soriano, into an opulent Art Deco masterpiece fused seamlessly with Korean and Chinese elements. A long, jade bar gives you a front row view of the mixology magic, while private booths are cast in flattering, flickering light. Remedies For Your Ailments is a rotating collection of of-the-moment cocktails that range from spirit-forward and tropical to spiced and smoky; Modern Remedies Around the World pay homage to inspiring new classics from the 2000s, and Prescriptions From the Old Days covers time-honored creations of the 1800-1900s. If all of that seems overwhelming, just let your mixologist craft you something wonderful, or choose from their impressive list of rare and unusual spirits, neat or on a big, crystal clear ice rock.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made up to two weeks in advance via Tock. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.
This coastal city's food and drink Renaissance over the past few years has yielded some serious gems, and Dija Mara is one of the crown jewels. The unassuming location provides a lot of things nowhere else really does: Balinese-inspired fusion food, Oceanside's only all-natural wine program, and a wide array of low-ABV cocktails. From ayam penyet to beef short rib pendang, all the food is prepped to pair with something from their extensive drinks list, including hard-to-find wines from around the world, local craft beer, and signature cocktails like the "Dija Monkey'' or "Beets by Bali." Sunday brunch features sparkling brunchtails and faves like Dija Hangover burritos and Kaya French toast.
How to order: Reservations are recommended and can be made via Tock. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.
Alternative beverages like hard seltzer have swept the craft beverage category off its feet, and hard kombucha is definitely along for the ride. From JuneShine to Boochcraft, San Diego has embraced the craze wholeheartedly, but it's Local Roots that keeps us on our toes with flavors like their best-selling Boochmosa (a riff on the classic brunch cocktail), Purple Haze (blueberry and ginger), and Island Vibes (pineapple and coconut). Their sizable tasting room, dubbed "The Boochyard," has even more flavors on draft, including traditional non-alcoholic kombuchas. Their cans are easy to find in off-premise outlets like Ralph's, Whole Foods, and more, but a visit to The Boochyard is a quintessential San Diego stop that shouldn't be missed.
How to order: Seating at The Boochyard is on a first-come basis.
This wine shop-slash-bar focuses on carrying small, sustainable brands to bring flavors from around the world to the heart of Little Italy. With hundreds of bottles to choose from and an expert staff of oenophiles ready to chat all things wine, Vino Carta makes diving into the wine world easy and fun for newbies and experts alike. The bar hosts plenty of tastings and winemaker visits, but the well-stocked bottle shop means you're unlikely to leave empty-handed. Be sure to keep up with their Instagram page for things like paella pop-ups, exclusive seasonal arrivals, and rotating food trucks. Also a plus; they’re open seven days a week from until 10pm Sunday-Wednesday and until midnight Thursday-Saturday.
How to order: Seating is on a first-come basis.