Small Bar
Photo courtesy of Small Bar

Sure, it might be fun to try a hip bar once or twice, but it doesn't beat the feeling of comfort that comes when you find a dive you can call your sanctuary.

For a while, my favorite was Lancer's (4671 Park Blvd.) on Park and Adams. An old drinking buddy who lived across the street described it best: "Lancer's is my living room. That's where I keep my pool table and my jukebox."

It also keeps some 30-year scotch in dust-covered bottles—since no one who goes there wants to pay for the good stuff when the cheap stuff gets you drunk just as fast.

A good regular bar is an automatic first stop or meeting spot for you and your friends. Small Bar (4628 Park Blvd.) is where I like to start off the evening because the food is as good as the beer selection. I go there during the day when Paulo is behind the bar because he always knows what's good and is happy to discuss the intricacies of early 1980s English power-pop bands.

Ending the evening? I'm likely to go to Soda Bar (3615 El Cajon Blvd.), because the regulars are often up-and-comers in the music scene who have yet to become jaded.

Sometimes, a bar with interesting regulars becomes too good, which means it's not worth being a regular. That's what happened for me at Pacific Shores (4927 Newport Ave.) after people cooler than me discovered it.

If you're deciding on whether a bar should become your one-and-only holy spot, choose carefully. There are countless stories of young drinkers who started going to a certain dive in order to make fun of the old drunks.

Within six months, they were old drunks, too.

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