As San Diego natives, we hear a lot of talk about our prestigious beaches, our infamous Gaslamp District, and the expansive Balboa Park. What’s less known about are all the quaint neighborhoods that funnel into these hotspots—neighborhoods like South Park.
Located south of North Park (shocking), this less-talked-about community enjoys much of the amenities that San Diego offers—including a lively bar scene.
For more inspiration on local hidden gems, you can check out San Diego tours, but for now here are the top 5 South Park bars in San Diego you should be visiting.
#1 Hamilton’s Tavern
Photo Courtesy: Hamilton’s Café
Do you have a proclivity to spontaneously burst out in Broadway raps about our forefathers? If so, this might not be the bar for you (or maybe it is)—either way, wrong Hamilton.
Hamilton’s Tavern is a brewpub that is well-known and well-loved for its extensive libation selection and freshly made sausages. They are the traditional alehouse in the neighborhood; come for the high-quality beer selection and the remarkable stories by Mr. Herman Hamilton himself. A 35-year South Park resident, Herman Hamilton is the American patriot who the bar was named after.
He still frequents the bar to this day, despite not being a drinker, and regales patrons and friends with incredible tales.
#2 Whistle Stop Bar
Photo Courtesy: Whistle Stop
For another neighborhood staple, you have to check out the Whistle Stop Bar, where the motto is oh, so gracefully put:
“Be cool. Be nice. Leave bars quietly”
Nothing reads more classic than “hey neighbor, chill out and drink cool.” Does it get roughhousey in here? Well, they wouldn’t put it that way—but if you want to enjoy local bands and locals dancing to local bands on a Saturday night, this spot is definitely your speed.
To give you a taste of what kind of atmosphere this place generates, their themed live music nights are amongst the likes of:
- F*cking in the bushes!!
- Unwind Yo’Self
- Booty Basement
- Whigsville Happy Hour
Your interpretation is as good as ours—truthfully, all we know is that it’s going to be fun! For more locals-only spots around San Diego, check out our guide to speakeasy bars in SD.
#3 The Rose Wine Bar
Photo Courtesy: Rose Wine Bar
Okay so you’ve done the rough and rowdy, and you’ve now upgraded to quaint and classy tasting rooms. If that’s the way it goes, the great vibe at The Rose Wine Bar will be right for you.
Here you can order an incredible mix of healthy eats from their food menu and pair it with a glass (or three!) of thoughtfully sourced wine. Their bottles range anywhere from $21 (for the classy bunch on a student budget) to $115 (for those who find pleasure in the elegance).
Their menu consists of salads, flatbreads, sweet treats, and on weekends, brunch!
#4 Eclipse Chocolate
Photo Courtesy: Eclipse Chocolate
You may not have expected to see a full-service chocolate bar when you clicked on this article, but yes, should it ever be decreed that every day is Valentine’s Day, this can become your new home.
From brunch ‘til dinner, Eclipse Chocolate offers a seasonal-specific menu, friendly customer service, and tastes that will have you drooling. Chef Gustwiller is an award-winning culinary artist who’s been featured on the Food Network not once, but twice!
Get to the desserts already!
Right—Eclipse has nearly 100 different confections to choose from, all of which are handcrafted in the bar. Choose among some of the favorites like:
- Chocolate Drink – Choose your cacao and choose your milk, then dive tongue first into a savory, sweet heaven.
- Egg and Bacon Cinnaroll – Expect the unexpected here as the desserts are as creative as your imagination.
- Salted Caramel Baklava Sundae – Drown in nutty, chocolaty, creamy goodness and feel the extra kick from the serrano salt with this treat.
For someone who wants to solve their sweet tooth as much as they want to get their buzz on—you couldn’t have asked for a better spot. For more romantic ideas to wow your special someone, check out these best date ideas in San Diego.
#5 Kindred Cocktail Bar
Photo Courtesy: Kindred
Come stimulate the senses—particularly the tongue—and the soul at Kindred Cocktail Bar. Self-proclaimed as whimsical and eccentric, you can be the ultimate judge of that. What creates this air of uniqueness?
Let’s see here, first of all, their kitchen and full bar are completely vegan. No animal products here, so get ready for some unseen cocktails:
- Oat Milk Punch – A winter cocktail meant to warm the soul (served cold) with bourbon, aged rum, cold brew, oat milk, and vanilla.
- Horrorchata – An horchata inspired medley of deliciousness. How can this be made vegan? With Forbidden Rice Horchata, of course. Bourbon, brandy, Biscotti Liqueur, and mole bitters.
As well as some classic eats that have a cruelty-free spin:
- Benedict – For your egg substitute, you’ll have basil and chive crusted tofu. Beneath that will be your protein, seared seitan. Then combine that with some extra deliciousness: sautéed kale, English muffin, roasted tomatoes and slathered in creamy (vegan creamy) hollandaise.
- Beer Batter Palm Tacos – Consider this incredible mix of ingredients for your next Taco Tuesday: Seaweed salad, topped with chile de arbol crema, a homemade jicama salsa, grilled corn, and cilantro butter. Cilantro butter? We didn’t even know that existed.
Okay, okay, so being vegan isn’t exactly novel anymore, is it? What else gives this place its cool vibe? Oh right, how could we forget—Death Metal. Spark your inner Underoath and get ready to mosh-pit with your vegan goodies in hand, because this place jams out with the best scream, death metal, and hardcore bands that you could ask for. Did we mention that Kindred is Insta-perfect? For even more aesthetically pleasing restaurants, check out our list of San Diego Instagram spots!
A Quick Detour Down Balboa Park Lane
As a conclusive point to this South Park bars San Diego, we would be doing a huge disservice if we didn’t point out the obvious attraction of this area. Sitting beautifully west of South Park is the incredibly beautiful Balboa Park. If you’re in the area, feel free to spend the afternoon and evening being pulled in two different directions.
On one side sits Balboa Park—green grass, activities, museums, art, zoo, restaurants, and so much more.
On the other sits South Park—quaint, quiet, communal, with some hidden gems that will make any bargoer smile.
South Park SD. Food & Drink Directory. http://www.southparksd.com/