Originally posted on September 17, 2009.
After very careful analysis, and more than a few whiskey gingers and Belgium beers, what follows is a review of the Ocean Beach bars/clubs. Pardon me if I missed one or two – a girl can only do so much drinking. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
Ah, the black light undersea glow is almost as soothing as the drink prices (possibly the lowest in OB). The narrow bar is sort of a hipster hangout, with a pool table in the back and a well-stocked jukebox. The only downside is a nonsensical dancing ban.
The farmer’s market is Wednesday, but the meat market is every night at Gallagher’s, an Irish-themed bar on Newport. Grind away to reggae, but make sure to check that smooth talkers hand for a wedding band.
Make your way up the stairs to the rooftop bar for the best Sunshine experience, night or day – no other bar in OB has anything quite like it. This place can get really packed and hot on a weekend, but is pretty mellow on weeknights. It’s attached to Livingstone’s, so you can line your belly with Mexican food before filling it with alcohol.
OB’s answer to the Casbah, Winston’s is the hands-down #1 place to go in OB to shake your bootie. This small space has hosted some great, bigger name bands – Particle and The Devil Makes Three come to mind – but also features local bands like The Electric Wasteband and Blackbirdz. Lots of reggae, but watch out, you can lose an eye if an overenthusiastic dancer whacks you with his/her dreads.
South Beach Bar and Grill:
Known for their fish tacos, South Beach is a happening spot at happy hour, but tends to die down late night. The tacos are phenomenal, and the drink specials are pretty solid. Service is not always prompt, but those ladies are so busy and they have to wear those bootie-short uniforms, so you can’t be angry. Note: happy hour prices do not mean that you should tip accordingly – be kind, tip karma is good.
Oh The Blue Parrot, how I love you. Here’s why: the servers are spunky sweethearts (the Parakeets), the food is solid (brunch is my favorite, veggie quesadillas are great, and the nachos are killer), and the drinks are well priced and strong. Most importantly, however, the owners and staff know how to have fun, hosting theme nights like the crab races (every Tuesday), carpet-munching (a labor day, wheatgrass shot thing), and party buses to select concerts. Life is never boring at the Blue Parrot.
So The Vine is probably more restaurant than bar, and doesn’t serve hard alcohol, but I mention them because a) they are right off Newport and get a lot of bar scenester runoff, and b) they have a great happy hour. Every day from 4-6 or Tuesday’s all day, all bottles are half off. That’s bottles of wine and bottles of beer, and The Vine has some of the best beer in town (I go for Delirium alone…).
Speaking of beer, I don’t think I’m going to far out on a limb by stating that Newport Pizza is the best place in San Diego to go for draft beer. They stay true to their motto, “No Crap on Tap”, and serve up delicious, delicious cold beers at reasonable prices. Their pizza is the perfect complement to their beer, so be prepared; you’ll be hankering for a slice.
Another Irish bar, The Harp distinguishes itself by having great music and a lively dancing scene on a sizeable dance floor. The front wall is full of open windows at night, so it never gets too hot, and acts like Help! (a Beatles cover band), and Lady Dottie and The Diamonds keep you moving.
Off the Newport scene, Lucy’s still gets bumping on the weekends, and on some weekdays (Tuesday’s is free pool). Lucy’s also opens at 6am, has shuffleboard (!), a popcorn machine (pretty nice if you’re not a germaphobe), and beautiful female bartenders that won’t laugh at you if you order hard cider. What, it’s good.
Fans laud The Tilted Stick as one of the best dive bars in OB. It definitely has a dive mentality, and actually pretty decent food, but for some reason something sketchy always happens every time I’m there. Some girl will get too drunk and start accosting people, or some guy will cheat at pool and get in a fight. I don’t know what it is, but it’s probably not the fault of the Stick.
Tiny’s is a nice little bar up Voltaire, tucked away from any OB madness. They have a little outside patio, decent food, nice employees, and a pool table. I can’t say much more, because for some reason I don’t find myself here much, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Nick’s is full of TV’s, so is great for sports watchers, but for the rest of us it’s super sensory-overload. Don’t take anyone with ADD here. There is sort of an ocean view from the bar, and it’s a great place to have a drink before piling out to a bonfire or a skinny-dip rendezvous.
Dream Street is a music venue off of Voltaire – you can hear the metal and hard rock from down the street. It’s a decent bar, which can be on or very off depending on the band.
This wine shop/restaurant has a full bar. Like The Vine, it’s more of a restaurant than a bar, but deserves a mention because the wine bottles can be incredibly cheap (prices are retail), and they serve delicious French bistro-style food until one in the morning. The wine corkage fee is $5, but there is no fee after 11pm.
Shades is ideal for sitting and drinking a beer on a weekend afternoon or during a sunset, since you can no longer drink on the beach.
Tony’s is that dark-looking bar with the martini in the window. It manages to never be too packed, and it has a pretty good jukebox, as well as a pool table. This is a good place to go after a long day, when you just want to kick back in one of the booths and have a drink you’re your friends without being hassled or hit on.
Ok, I admit, I’ve only been here once. It’s interesting, a non-descript stairway up to a dark bar. I went for a hip-hop show, and the place was packed and fun – lot’s of people I had never seen before, which is weird for OB. I don’t know where they came from – PB? Downtown? Regardless, it was a great time, but it seems like fun at Portugalia could very well be dependent on what show is happening that night.
Whew, that’s a lot of bars! I’m sure there’s a few I’ve missed, as well, so feel free to add a comment reviewing your favorite OB bar. Yeah, even if it’s just your friend’s garage…