The Top 5 Dive Bars in San Diego

Zack Garhart
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Heading to San Diego to soak up some sun? The city has not only wonderful beaches but also great restaurants and taverns. For different occasions, there are different venues. Everybody loves a good cocktail now and then, but few things are better than a cold, crisp beer that comes in a can. We’re talking about dive bars.

For your next trip, we’ve put together our list of the top five dive bars in San Diego.

Cherry Bomb

The top of our list starts with Cherry Bomb. Located in the Bankers Hill neighborhood of San Diego, this little gem is a local favorite. From the stiff pours and pool tables to the funky, retro vibe and friendly bartenders, we love this place as either a place to start or end the night. Cherry Bomb also prides itself on being a punk bar, which means you’re likely to find an eclectic group on hand and plenty of lively conversation. One thing to know: this is a cash-only bar. There is an ATM on-site, which means you don’t have to hit the bank first. If you haven’t been over to Cherry Bomb, definitely check it out!

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Star Bar

Smack dab in the middle of downtown San Diego, Star Bar is one of the best dive bars around. Here you’ll find a chill, laid-back environment and affordable drinks. There’s a jukebox on hand, which means you can help control the party. We also like the fact that the bathrooms are clean and the bartenders are friendly. If you’re looking to shoot some pool, Star Bar has that, too. Not only is the vibe set by the bar, but you’ll also find locals hanging around here. The homey vibe and chill nature of Star Bar make it one of our top dive bars in San Diego!

The Tower Bar

Operating out of an iconic building from the 1930s, The Tower Bar is a San Diego institution. With rotating live music selections and funky jams throughout the week, The Tower Bar is one place you must go in San Diego. They also run a pretty great happy hour during the week. Locals love to hang out here, and the bartenders are friendly. The comfortable vibe and history of the building make this bar among the more interesting spots in San Diego. If you’re into punk music, this is definitely a place for you! Either way, we recommend stopping by for a drink and soaking up some of the fun history of the building and basking in its quirky ambiance. The location is great, with proximity to the fun North Park neighborhood, which has plenty of shops and places to eat.

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Black Cat Bar

Also in the University Park area of San Diego, Black Cat is a funky dive bar that is both relaxed and vibrant. The music selections are always on point, and the staff is friendly. We go for the affordable drinks and stay for the ambiance. Not only does Black Cat have pool tables, but they often feature live music. If you’re looking for a chill vibe where you can hang out and have a good conversation, pop on over to Black Cat!

Chee-Chee Club

If you’re downtown San Diego, swing over to the Chee-Chee Club for your first round. For pool players, you’ll love the cheap prices to play. Also affordable are the drinks! They’re known to rotate the music selection, but you’re sure to hear some classic tunes you recognize. You should know this is another cash-only bar. There is an ATM on hand, though. The bartenders at Chee-Chee Club are friendly and outgoing, which means you don’t have to know anyone there if you want to pop in for a drink. Next time you’re in the area, swing by Chee-Chee Club and experience drinking in San Diego like a true local.

Not mentioned in this article is the famous Gaslamp neighborhood, which boasts a ton of great bars that qualify as dive bars. For more insight on the area, check out this video!


For your next night out, we recommend checking out some of these spots as their our top dive bars in San Diego. Bring your friends or come alone, you’re sure to have a good time!

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