Allison lives in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego, California.
Pacific Beach, or PB, is a neighborhood in San Diego, California, that is known for its idyllic beaches and easy-going party atmosphere. With the most bars per square mile of any town in the county, there are almost too many options when it comes to grabbing a drink. You really need the guidance of a local to find that perfect spot for an evening out. Let this article help you as you navigate the notorious drinking culture of Pacific Beach. Bottoms up!
1. The Grass Skirt: An Intriguing Tiki Speakeasy
There's something fun about needing special information just to get into a place. The Grass Skirt has a unique take on the speakeasy trend—the bar is right there in plain sight, but how the heck do you get in? Let's just say it involves a nearby poke shop and a walk-in freezer.
Once you've cracked the case and made your way inside, you'll enjoy the dim lighting, cozy corners, and incredibly immersive tiki décor, all of which will transport you into a secret South Pacific oasis. The Polynesian food and drinks are a bit on the expensive side, but they're also well crafted. With close to 150 types of rum, a rum club, and a secret cocktail menu, booze enthusiasts will have plenty to gush over. And the salmon cones? Ohhhhh, the salmon cones. Be still my beating heart.
2. The Silver Fox: A Classic Dive With Cheap Drinks
This place's décor is older than your mother and its cocktails are cheaper than your coffee. It's cash only (no surprise), and the running specials will blow your hair back. There's nothing better than $2 Bloody Marys and mimosas on weekends . . . except perhaps the $2 well drinks on Thursdays. What's more, the bartenders are good people, and the patrons always make for great people watching.
Pro Tip: Start at the Pacific Beach Fish Shop down the street on a Thursday night for the $1 oysters, then walk a block to The Fox for $2 wells. Oysters and cocktails for practically nothing? Why wouldn't you do that?
3. The Shore Club: Do You Even Drink, Bro?
The Shore Club is your quintessential college bar. It's not new, and it's not fancy, but it sure is loved. Located right on the ocean boardwalk, this old standby is a PB institution. The place may be cramped and the layout may be awkward, but that doesn't stop everybody and their brother from waiting in line to enjoy it. The music is loud and just as likely to feature top-40 hits as it is to play the Britney Spears songs of yesteryear. The atmosphere is one of camaraderie, a necessity in a place so packed that you can't stand without touching someone. And from the dudes at the bar practicing headlocks to the chicks belting out Spice Girls lyrics from a tabletop, there's no shortage of people-watching to keep things interesting.
As an added bonus, the Shore Club takes its food seriously, offering delicious burgers and Mexican standbys. So don't drink on an empty stomach. Don't be that guy.
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4. Sushi Kuchi: Sake Bombs and People Watching
This one is probably a bit unexpected, as it's a sushi restaurant with no liquor license. Its real beauty is in the $1 sake bombs. Add to that the truly delicious (and reasonably priced) sushi and lively party atmosphere, and you just might stay here all night balancing shot glasses on chopsticks.
Located in the crosshairs of Garnet Ave. and Mission Blvd. and only one block from the beach, this little gem is in the thick of the PB social scene. You get all sorts of diners here, and the employees are fun-loving enough to welcome the boisterous crowd. And, if you've got your family with you and you're on the adventurous side, do as we've done and bring your kids! Just be prepared for the people around you to spontaneously shout sake bomb chants and slam their table.
As you head out the door, the good people of Suchi Kuchi will shout merrily, "see you tomorrow!" With an experience like this, they just might.
Short Tutorial on How to Drink a Sake Bomb
5. Lahaina Beach House: Ocean Sunsets and Stiff Drinks
I remember the first time I walked past this place and heard the laughter and merriment emanating from the crowded deck. I immediately wanted to be part of it. That's the beautiful thing about Lahaina Beach House—when you're there, you're in it together.
Small and homey, this place is what would happen if a dive bar and a beach house had a baby. It's located right on the ocean boardwalk—just steps from the sand—where you can watch the beach crowd go by like a motley parade. Be sure to arrive a while before sunset to secure a spot, grab a drink, and maybe even order a burger (they're good). Then, revel in the celebration and comradery as the sun sets beyond the ocean and everybody cheers. Life is good here.
6. Moonshine Beach: Country Dancing and Buck Hunter
Moonshine Beach is the closest thing PB has to a country bar, though this place can feel a bit more city-slicker than honky-tonk. That being said, they do play a lot of country music, and they even teach line dancing several days a week. This place is huge and can feel a little impersonal, but that big ol' dance floor actually fills up when there's live music on the stage. Keep an eye on the concert calendar, as this venue pulls some big names. And for a more laid back vibe, walk next door to the restaurant/cantina side of the business at Cerveza Jack's. There you'll find cornhole, shuffleboard, and Big Buck Hunter in an open-air setting.