These days, the cocktail scene in San Diego is booming. With a rise in everything from speakeasies to tiki bars, San Diego is quickly making a name for itself as one of the most up and coming and innovative places to imbibe. When it comes to downtown San Diego bars, it seems that new places are constantly popping up in the neighborhood and keeping us curious to sip and discover via a San Diego tour or simply on our own!
If you’re looking to mix it up this weekend, check out this list to read about some of the newest and best bars in downtown San Diego. Whether you’re enjoying a brunch beverage or a fancy cocktail over dinner, we’re sure this list will whet your whistle and get you eager to explore your favorite things to do in downtown San Diego!
Photo by: Bar Moxy
If you’re craving a swanky hotel bar, look no further than Bar Moxy. Located in the newly opened Moxy Hotel (the first California location for the Marriott international Moxy brand), this place is both playful and wildly cool inside. From tiki cocktails to old-time classics, and a mix of burgers, sandwiches, and snacks, Bar Moxy is the type of downtown San Diego bar that can be enjoyed at all hours of the day (and night). Starting in the mid-afternoon, there’s a DJ, and there’s also a lobby packed with arcade games for the gaming enthusiast in the group. Try the Pink + Black with Casamigos blanco, black tea, hibiscus, and fresh lemon — or the selection of whites from places around the world like South Africa, Germany, and Italy. We recommend satisfying your late-night munchies with a Nashville Chicken Sandwich made with crispy chicken, Tennessee hot sauce, spicy pickles, and crema on a brioche bun. A side of the Loaded Fries with crumbled bacon is a welcomed addition to enjoy, too.
Juan Tequila Bar and Restaurant
Photo by: Juan Tequila Bar and Restaurant
Juan Tequila Bar and Restaurant is a new hot spot in the Gaslamp Quarter that features inventive small plates and cocktails reflecting the Baja-California style. The venue proudly boasts a surprisingly New York vibe with chandeliers, club leather furniture, and marble tabletops. The cocktail program offers everything from tiki-inspired drinks based on tropical fruit and Mexican ingredients, to old-world tequilas, Baja wine, and craft beer. They’re huge on “sea fare” from Baja and present locally sourced and foraged ingredients. Try them out for brunch, where you can indulge in the delicious food like the Huevos Montados, a tostada with over hard egg, salsa ranchera, crema, and beans or the Juan Tequila French Toast which is made with three slices of Texas bread dipped in egg and grilled with Piloncillo and agave syrup, then topped with strawberries. Don’t forget to try the Driftwood cocktail, a classic house signature that’s an old-fashioned tribute to Mexico — a brilliant mix of house-infused chile Mezcal, Sotol, Cacao, amaro, and peach bitters. For an excellent downtown San Diego happy hour, come to this spot on Tuesdays for 50% off tacos, tequilas, and mezcales!
Photo by: Storyhouse Spirits
Welcome to Storyhouse Spirits, an East Village spot that opened in February 2019. It’s a distillery, a cocktail bar, and wood fired restaurant bundled up into one, two-level building. Drink everything from Seaside Vodka to Storyhouse Aviation Gin and pair your sips with a plate of Rockefeller-style oysters from the beautiful copper wood-burning oven. It’s a large venue great for big groups or celebrations like birthdays and group cocktail crawls. With a design aesthetic of lots of deep blues, wood, and industrial shiny silver (plus comfy couches and tables), we’re sure you’ll sit back, drink up, and stay awhile at this latest addition to the growing San Diego cocktail scene.
Photo by: Rendezvous
Rendezvous, The Wonder Bar, was originally established by Baron Long in 1933 just after Prohibition was repealed. He was then the owner of the US Grant Hotel and as a tribute, the bar has now made a return to the hotel by way of a French cocktail bar. Inspired by the original concept of the 1930s, the bar has an eclectic and fancy menu of specialty cocktails, punch bowls, ciders, and more. For a fun outing, try the service à la française part of the menu — a unique table side cocktail experience or ask your server about the “off the menu” specials. For a quintessential San Diego beverage worthy of your next Instagram caption, there’s the Carmen San Diego — an intriguing mix of Scotch, Fino Sherry, and The US Grant Signature Génépi Americana. For a real rip-roaring time, grab a few friends and opt for the Monkey Party, a big bowl served with rum, dry curacao, yellow chartreuse, Crème de Banane, sauternes, lemon, and soda.
Photo by: Nolita Hall
If it’s an ultra-stylish alternative to your downtown San Diego sports bar you’re searching for, make a plan to visit Nolita Hall in Little Italy. Here, you’ll find inventive cocktails, pizza, salad, and a sparkling space to relish in the beauty of game day. It’s a space inspired by both the modern and traditional drinking emporiums in the legendary beer cities of Europe and has won nods for its exceptional design (including a skylight that spans the length of the space and a bar with 24 taps). As they mention, all sports fans are welcome, and they play everything from the Kentucky Derby to the World Cup. For a delicious bite, pair your beverages with the Mega Board, which is the ultimate in offerings of charcuterie and cheeses from all over the world or the seasonal pizza, which changes depending on — yep, you guessed it — the season.
Whether you’re in the mood for slowly enjoying a French classic or for sharing a punch bowl with your best friends, we hope this list of new downtown San Diego bars has you excited to get out there, check them out, and have a good time!
For more cocktail inspiration, make sure to give our article on Top 10 Trendiest Bars a peek or read about San Diego beer staples in our Unique Beer Flavors article.