Top 10 Classiest Bars In San Diego
Let’s Get Classy
Hours: Monday through Friday 3:00pm-12:00am; Saturday & Sunday 4:00pm-12:00am
Provocative, eloquent, and lively, the great American steakhouse finds new life at Little Italy’s Born and Raised. Flashing a glitzy ambiance reminiscent of a world far too gone, you’d nearly expect to run into Jay Gatsby and Meyer Wolfsheim’s outfit hashing out their “pharmaceutical” business plans. Whether it’s the savory dry-aged beef or a hand-crafted old fashioned, something about this atmosphere sets free the imagination, allowing drifting thoughts to flow toward a brighter future.
Hours: Saturday through Thursday 5:00pm – 1:00am; Friday 4:00pm – 1:00am
Step inside an unassuming glass door in Midtown, make your way down a slatted hexagonal hallway, and gander upon Starlite’s twinkling sunken bar. Hungry? Don’t bother eating before arriving, the kitchen is typically open until midnight; providing a haven for the classiest of San Diego’s late-night munchers. They aren’t serving your typical pub finger-food either, Starlite promises an unwavering commitment to local, natural, and straight from the source ingredients – making their menu admirably seasonal.
Hours: Lunch, Monday through Friday 11:30am – 1:45pm; Dinner, Monday through Thursday 5:30pm – 9:30pm and Friday through Sunday 5:00pm – 9:30pm; Brunch, Sunday 10:00am – 2:00pm
Mister A’s offers what is very likely the greatest view of San Diego’s metropolitan area; add a world-class craft cocktail paired with the right date and by the end of the evening you may feel better than “on top of the world.” What sets this venue far and away from the rooftop bars of the city is its slight distance from downtown, which, in turn, allows for an unmatched sweeping panorama of the heart-stirring San Diego skyline.
Burtrand Hug, the owner, comes from much humbler beginnings when compared to the current mountain top on which his culinary home now resides. He grew up in rural France, moved stateside after college, and in order to make ends meet on the west coast, spent untold hours waiting tables at some of California’s finest restaurants. Alongside French and Mediterranian influenced American cuisine, he graciously shares with the world that lifetime of invaluable service-industry experience.
Hours: Monday through Sunday 3:00pm – 1:00am
Find your place amongst the thousands of glittering stars that dot San Diego’s numerous skyscrapers on any given evening. While Top of the Hyatt provides breath-taking views of the surrounding city, it’s prime waterfront location really shows out around sunset when the sky turns a cotton candy pink with some swirls of orange, purple, and blue mixed into the clouds. Bearing witness to such beauty, while perched above the city atop this colossus of a building, makes one feel as though they’re caught within the most majestic of paintings – a masterpiece made by the stroking hand of God himself.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 6:00pm – 2:00am
With a scholarly approach to drink-making, Noble Experiment’s personable bartenders expertly manipulate more than 100 spirits, house-made syrups and fresh, local fruit into a library of 700 specialty cocktails. Just 35 tipplers at-a-time occupy the covert 750 square-foot converted loft, deliberately ensconced behind a hidden door in one of the East Village’s bustling neighborhood eateries.
Place a reservation if you can, if not, as the venue fills easily, try your luck walking in; they dedicate a set amount of seats on a daily basis for walk-ins only!
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday 5:00pm – 12:00am; Thursday through Saturday 5:00pm – 2:00am; Brunch, Saturday & Sunday 11:00am – 3:00pm
Kettner Exchange’s design pays homage to San Diego founding father William Kettner. The restaurant boasts two levels of indoor/outdoor drinking and dining, filled with subtle nods to the City’s great bay and nautical history. Their sun-kissed main dining room spills into the space’s main attraction – its open rooftop patio, where Beverage Director Claire Sexton reins over the restaurant’s thoughtful and dynamic cocktail program.
Already hosting the only rooftop experience available in Little Italy, they offer stunning private cabanas complete with self-serve beer taps and all sorts of other luxurious amenities. We’re comfortable crowning Kettner Exchange as the most friendly venue on this list for large group reservations or full-blown 20+ person events! From birthday parties to corporate dinners to holiday gatherings, you can’t go wrong here.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 4:00pm – 12:00am; Friday & Saturday 4:00pm – 2:00am
With a name inspired by the fabled ancient founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Raised by Wolves has grown to garner considerable fame and prosperity. imbibe magazine recently crowned the establishment their “2019 Cocktail Bar of the Year!”
The Raised by Wolves experience begins with stepping into an old-vintage looking fine liquor shop – something you’d find off a fateful cobblestone path in 19th century Europe. After informing the attendant at the counter that you’d like to give some of those bottles on the shelf a try, they’ll seat you accordingly. The seat, along with the entire wall, will then begin to rotate and by the end of a single half-revolution, you will begin your drift into another realm as the bar comes into sight.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11:30am – 9:00pm; Friday & Saturday 11:30am – 10:00pm
Located in San Diego’s up and coming East Village district, Water Grill puts a LIVELY spin on the typical seafood restaurant. Its downtown location, glamorous atmosphere, bustling bars (plural), and all-encompassing dinner menu will have you looking no further for a classic trot on the town. In thanks to the size of the building, they even manage a banquet space, called “The East Village,” that offers amazing views of the Gaslamp Quarter and provides for an enormous variety of set-up options.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday 11:30am – 12:00am; Friday & Saturday 11:30am – 11:00pm
Little Italy was built by the fishing industry. Ironside attempts to continue that narrative by introducing a contemporary interpretation of the classic fish house and oyster bar. Located in a historic auction house on India St, they did a full comprehensive restoration of the building, with three open-air culinary hubs featuring an expansive raw bar, chefs table, and bakery. The owners of the project say, “we tried to be mindful of the past while looking towards the future.”
Hours: Monday through Thursday 3:00pm – 2:00am; Friday through Sunday 11:30am – 2:00am
Your neighborhood drug store/soda fountain. It reminisces of a time before big-box retailers drove the neighborhood drug store off Main Street America. While carefully reviewing vintage pharmaceutical books packed with housemade recipes, Erick Castro found his inspiration for Polite Provisions’ expansive menu, which focuses on spirited cocktails prepared with housemade bitters, soda pop, tinctures and syrups, as a nod to those ingredients’ medicinal uses.