Tag: Nightlife

Every veteran traveler knows that food is an intrinsic and extremely enjoyable part of traveling; sampling the local cuisine in a new place is like sightseeing for your taste buds, and in order to really fully experience the vibe of a new city, it’s necessary to dive in flavor-wise and savor the local gastronomy.

Unfortunately, however, eating out every meal isn’t an option for most travelers on a budget—thus enter Happy Hours, the frugal traveler’s best friend.

For those uninitiated, Happy Hour—aka “a cocktail hour or longer period at a bar, during which drinks are served at reduced prices”—takes place during a bar or restaurant’s slower times, usually in the afternoon on weekdays. It’s a way that restaurants can coax in customers during a typically dead time of day, which they do so by slashing prices and offering discounts and specials on food and drinks.

For those of us penny-pinching nomads, it’s a way to sample a restaurant’s offerings for a fraction of the price. Aside from being a steal pricewise, happy hour is generally a far quieter time of day, as it starts during traditional workday hours—meaning that you and your significant other, best friend, and/or new friends you met at Lucky D’s (woot woot!) can enjoy yourselves in a quieter, more relaxed setting. No having to put your name in the queue at the host stand, bumping elbows with other tables while trying to find a seat, or losing your voice from having to talk over the loud din.

It’s the perfect mid-afternoon interlude—a quick bite and tasty beverage to ease you into the late afternoon after a lengthy hike at Balboa Park, a sun-inundated afternoon bronzing yourself on the beach, or just to treat yoself because you’re on vacation.

Here we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Happy Hours in the East Village/Downtown area, along with a little bit about what makes each spot so special.

Neighborhood

Located catty-corner from Lucky D’s is Neighborhood, a rustic-chic bar and restaurant that boasts an impressive selection of craft beer, both local and imported. The inside has a relaxing, artisanal vibe to it, filled with earthy, dark and wooden materials that are highlighted by the bar’s intimate mood lighting; the small astroturf padded patio outside is great for people watching along the corner of 8th Avenue and G Street. The menu flaunts a variety of vegan/vegetarian options, and the mac ‘n’ cheese remains a requisite favorite, particularly hamburger helper style if you’re up for it. In the back of the restaurant lies a speakeasy, which on weekends tends to get filled up pretty quickly—make sure to put your name in early!

HH Deal: Monday through Friday, enjoy 2 for 1 local beers from 4-7 p.m.!

HALF DOOR

A staff favorite, Half Door is an Irish-pub style brewery with a cozy, vintage ambience. Situated in an old house, the bottom patio that greets you upon entry is reminiscent of the old verandas from grand hotels of the Gilded Age, perfect for catching some sun and people watching on 9th & Island. Walk inside and it feels like you’ve entered a much cooler version of your Grandfather’s study, filled with unassuming upcycled cool—comfortably worn love seats, floral wallpaper, distressed coffee tables and repurposed church pews. The two-story ceiling to floor liquor cabinet creates a dreamy effect when progressing to the second level, the afternoon sunlight playing through the different bottles to cast a kaleidoscope of colors while walking up the stairs. The second story is even homier, full of leather chairs, couches and bookshelves filled with classic tomes; walk out onto the beautiful twinkle-lit outdoor patio and get a premier view of Petco Park and the intersecting streets below.

Normally pretty busy, the ‘happy hours’ are a more mellow time at Half Door; it’s an ideal place for solo happy-houring as much as social outings. Bring a book or laptop and ride solo, or come with friends and pick out a classic board game from upstairs! They brew their beers onsite, with most of the menu items being modern updates to classic Irish cuisine.

HH DEALS: Monday through Friday, from 4-6 p.m.
$5 house beers, $6 draft beers
$5 well wine
$5 well cocktails, $6 specialty cocktails
$5 fried goat cheese, $5 truffle fries, $5 mac & cheese
$6 pretzel bites
$7 ahi tuna taco
$9 sausage flatbread

Pro tip: We recommend the Mac ‘n Cheese with the Roark Red Ale.

Bubs at the Ballpark

Located on the same block as Petco Park, Bubs is a convenient stop for food and drinks before a Padres game. The Sports bar offers standard American bar fare, a wide variety of local craft beer on tap, and plenty of plasma screen TVs for gameday viewings. The garage door windows open up on sunny days, and the elevated patio provides a great boost for people-watching. They have an in-house basketball court, shuffleboard, and video games at the ready, a fun way to pass the time while waiting on food or a table. The kitchen is open til 1 a.m., for those nights when you need a feed a little later than usual. We recommend the burgers and the wings (half off during happy hour)!

HH DEALS: 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday
$4 select local drafts
$5 well drinks
50% off wings, 50% off all red baskets (chips, salsa & guacamole / seasoned fries / onion rings / regular or special tots)

Bootlegger

Of course we couldn’t leave our downstairs neighbor off the list! Bootlegger has a laidback speakeasy-esque vibe and is a convenient place to grab a quick bite before heading upstairs for that much needed nap after a day full of San Diego sightseeing. Full of comfortable booths and trendy old timey décor, the place comes alive during weekend afternoons. In addition to have a daily happy hour, they have specials on certain menu items throughout the week, with two of our favorites being $2 tacos and $10 nachos (beer included!) on Tuesdays and $10 build-your-own-burgers on Thursdays (draft domestic also included). For Saturday and Sunday brunch, they have $15 bottomless mimosas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

HH DEALS: Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 3-7 p.m.
$5 wells & calls, house wines and draft specials
$5 small plates

Knotty Barrel

Around the corner from Lucky D’s lies Knotty Barrel, a chill gastropub with a full bar and selection of over 100 local, domestic, and imported beers. It feels like a comfortable mountain lodge, with barrels and rustic wood incorporated into their design scheme—be sure to check out the bar, which is covered with a hodgepodge of beer labels from around the world that the owner spent years collecting. They have an enclosed back patio with a fire pit and a variety of games like Shuffleboard and Connect 4; on Thursday nights they have trivia starting at 8 p.m.!

HH DEALS: Monday through Friday, from 3-7 p.m.
Discounts on select appetizers
$6 potato skins / house-made beer cheese
$7 Chipotle BBQ sliders / 3 way fries / fried pickles

Basic

The MO of Basic is simplicity, summed up in the name of the restaurant itself and evident in everything from its menu offerings to the general feng shui of the place. Simple, uncomplicated thin crust brick oven pizza is the order of the day at Basic, a restaurant that feels more like an open-air lounge with a chic industrial aesthetic. The building was converted from an early 20th century warehouse, with straightforward, efficient décor comprised of brick, wood and metal elements; the shag carpet is made from recycled rubber tires, and the building still has its original brick walls, with large garage door-style windows that stay open on beautiful days. Munch on free pizza samples while shooting pool during happy hour, or check out their Art Nights on Tuesdays evenings.

HH DEAL: Every day from 4-7 p.m.
$4 bottles and cans
$5 all draft beers & well cocktails
$6 Absolut or Jack Daniels cocktails
$7 all house wines
Free samples of Basic pizza (except on game days)

Tin Roof

Just a short 5 minute walk from Lucky D’s, Tin Roof brings a little bit of Southern charm to San Diego; though spacious, the Nashville inspired bar is an intimate spot where you can enjoy live local music and great people watching! They have tables for beer pong, jenga, and cornhole; on the patio outside is a large place to play shuffleboard. Bonus: they serve weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with bottomless mimosas and $5 bloody mary’s!

HH deals: Monday through Friday, 3-7 p.m.
Half off all drinks and appetizers

Weekly specials: $5 Jameson & Fireball all day, everyday
Tuesday: $2 Tacos, $3 Mexican Beer 
Wednesday: $5 well drinks 
Thursday: $3 Tall Boys 
Saturday and Sunday: Brunch 10am-2pm, bottomless mimosas & $5 signature bloody mary

Gaslamp Quarter

Social center of the downtown area, with lots of bars and restaurants and a bustling nightlife. Stroll down 5th Avenue, the central vein of the Gaslamp, filled with fun bars, fabulous restaurants and quirky breweries.

Hillcrest

LGBT heart of San Diego, with lots of great brunch spots and locally owned businesses including thrift stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs. Amazing farmer’s market on Sundays with live music!

University Heights/Normal Heights/North Park

The hipster trifecta of San Diego, all with cool retro neon signs greeting you upon entry. Lots of trendy bars and breweries with unique atmospheres, cute vintage boutiques and art galleries

North Park
Named one of the best hipster neighborhoods in the US by Forbes, North Park is a culturally diverse neighborhood with lots of art galleries, coffee shops and boutiques. Thursday farmer’s market!

Normal Heights
Adams Ave (between Texas St on the west & Ohio St on the east) known as Antique Row, after all the antique stores there.

University Heights
Lots of restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and artists’ studios.

South Park

Family oriented and very pedestrian-friendly area, with lots of grocery stores and great restaurants; 30th street has been called the nation’s ‘craft beer boulevard’ by Men’s Journal.

Pacific Beach

Younger kids, with a boardwalk to Mission Beach. With a nightlife second only to the Gaslamp Quarter, PB is full of bars, shops, and restaurants on Garnet Avenue

Ocean Beach

Often called the “Haight-Ashbury” of San Diego, Ocean Beach has a laid back bohemian vibe. The beach is a great spot for bonfires!

La Jolla

Called the Beverley Hills of San Diego, La Jolla is a beautiful suburban area with plenty of natural beauty and opportunities for outdoorsy fun. Check out the sea lions in the Children’s Pool, sunbathe in the buff at Black’s Beach, or go kayaking or snorkeling through La Jolla’s seven caves and swim with leopard sharks.

Old Town

The oldest settled area of San Diego and first European settlement in California, Old Town is full of Wild Western/Chicano cultural heritage. It’s an absolute must if you want to experience the culture of the American Southwest, and the center of the town almost feels like you’ve crossed the border.

Mission Beach

A great spot for young families, run, bike, or skate along the boardwalk to Belmont Park, the beachfront amusement park there.

Seaport Village

A beautiful beachfront shopping area, with lots of boutiques and souvenir opportunities; there is a century old carousel still in use today.

Little Italy

Full of charming little ‘piazzas’ as well as award-winning Italian eateries. Lots of good coffee shops, boutiques, artist galleries. Lots of festivals throughout the year, a weekly farmer’s market every Saturday, “el mercato”—the market, in Italian.

Parq Restaurant & Nightclub

Parq offers a unique ambience via their stylized aesthetic, with different textures and moods throughout the space; it’s the biggest nightclub in San Diego, with great attention to detail regarding their sound, lighting and design, in order to evoke different sensations as you navigate Parq’s expanse. Competing with the most opulent clubs in Vegas, famous acts can be seen on their stage in addition to traditional go-go dancers, aerial dancers and a gyrating robot. It’s a really grandiose, visually enticing locale that draws you in, with a restaurant connected to the club as well.

OMNIA

multi-level club with live DJ, main level and middle you can see the stage. There’s a rooftop lounge with a separate DJ, and at Lucky D’s we get a special deal every Thursday, any vodka mixed drink free from 9:30-10:30.

Onyx Room

The Onyx room offers a more diverse musical experience, with opportunities for both hip-hop aficionados and Latin music lovers. If you’re looking to shake your tailfeather to popular hip-hop beats and top 40 hits, the upstairs is where it’s at; for those who prefer Latin rhythms a la Despacito, check out the downstairs—they even have salsa, bachata, and merengue dance lessons in the back on certain nights, with inexpensive options for bottle service.

Sidebar

An intriguing blend of neo-Victorian vamp and carnivalesque décor, elaborate bird cages and disco balls dangle from Side Bar’s ceiling while avant-garde paintings and louche vintage portraits line the walls. They have large, comfortable booths for lounging that provide a bird’s eye view of the dance floor, and they offer a mixology class the first Saturday of every month.

Sevilla Nightclub

Sevilla Nightclub also offers a more Latin ambience, with live music certain nights of the week and DJs druring others. Wednesdays are salsa and bachata night, and on Tuesday they offer basic dance lessons in both!

Whiskey Girl

If you’re looking for something a little more casual, Whiskey Girl on 5th is the place—with no cover charge and no strict rules regarding attire, it’s something of a mix between a sports bar and night club. There is a large dance floor and bar area and are located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter

Altitude Skylounge

Also offering free admission is the Altitude Skylounge, highlighted by its gorgeous décor and phenomenal views of the downtown area. Located on the 22nd floor of the downtown Mariott, Altitude Skylounge provides panoramic views of the city—from Coronado Island, San Diego Bay, the downtown skyline and Petco Park. The bar’s atmosphere is nothing to sneeze at either, with glass fire pits and lots of comfortable chic lounge style seating.

American Junkie

This is the place for TacoTuesday, with $5 all you can eat tacos; choose from beef, chicken, or vegetarian option, plus required purchase of a beverage ($3 Corona, $5 Margaritas, Jameson & Don Julio Shots). At 10 the place turns into club until 2 a.m, giving you plenty of time to dance off your taco food-baby.

McFadden’s

McFadden’s is a Lucky D’s staff favorite—a laidback saloon/sports bar with a large bar and lots of TVs, it almost feels more like a college town bar than a pub in one of the more touristy areas of town. They have a large elevated dance floor and a spacious patio, as well as large pool tables for when you need a break from breaking it down. They offer all Lucky D’s guests a special on Thursdays—free entry with your key card, and $1 drinks and domestic beers.

Hard Rock Pool Party

Every Saturday, the Hard Rock San Diego throws a luxe rager of a rooftop pool party. Come experience Southern California at its finest, sipping beverages and lounging poolside in the abundant sunshine. Lucky D’s gets an exclusive discount, and many guests rave it’s the cherry on top of their SoCal vacay.

Barley Mash

A cross between a sports bar and a gastropub, Barleymash is a high energy bar with a menu focusing on local craft beer and bourbon. They have a large dancefloor, as well as plentiful TVs for gameday; a great spot for day-drinking and people-watching along one of the busiest streets in the Gaslamp.

 

LIVE MUSIC

House of Blues

Built on a foundation of Southern musical traditions, the House of Blues tries to find and support local artists as much as big name performers. Inspired in part by Southern juke joints, the House of Blues “is dedicated to educating and celebrating the history of Southern Culture and African American artistic contributions to music and art.” Underneath the stage in every House of Blues is a box of Delta Mississipi mud—a sort of talisman “to ensure that every artist has the roots and spirit of the South beneath their feet.” They have an eclectic assortment of art on the walls, ranging from folk art and self-taught to ‘outsider style’, constantly striving to mix it up and feature more off the beaten path styles. If you’re looking for live folk, rhythm & blues, or rock music in San Diego, check out the House of Blues itinerary.

Tin Roof

Just a short 5 minute walk from Lucky D’s, Tin Roof brings a little bit of Southern charm to San Diego; though spacious, the Nashville inspired bar is an intimate spot where you can enjoy live local music and great people watching! They have tables for beer pong, jenga, and cornhole; on the patio outside is a large place to play shuffleboard. Bonus: they serve weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with bottomless mimosas and $5 bloody mary’s!

Café 21

Also a popular eatery, the Mediterranean inspired restaurant features live local musicians every night of the week starting at 7 p.m. Grab a seat and a cocktail in their earthy and arabesque space and enjoy local acts ranging from jazz, big band, and flamenco to folk music. Best of all, it’s free! (Though we do recommend at least a minimal purchase as a gesture of gratitude.)