4746 El Cajon Blvd., City Heights www.myspace.com/thebeautybarThe über-trendy bar used to pack them in for manicures and DJs, but the place seems to be slowly trying to make the transition into a full-on music venue. And it's still the only place where you can smoke, drink, dance and watch a band while still technically being inside.
6949 El Cajon Blvd., College Area619-464-9945This establishment is the kind of dive bar that should (and probably does) exist in every major American city. Things are cut-and-dried: pool table, foosball, cheap drinks and a few TVs playing sports around the clock. It doesn't get much more basic than that.
Effin's Pub & Grill
6164 El Cajon Blvd., College Area619-229-9800Every college seems to have at least one bar like this nearby—gnarly bathrooms, cheap drinks, good hot wings, and, um, bras on the wall. Ah, the glory days.
4977 El Cajon Blvd., Rolandowww.lastcallsd.comLast Call touts itself as the sort of place where if a regular orders a pizza, he'll invite everyone to share.
6344 El Cajon Blvd., College Areawww.mcmurphyspub.netMcMurphy's doesn't serve liquor, but it's rumored to have the best selection of beers on tap at any bar close to SDSU, as well as four beer-pong tables. Yeah, you heard us.
4246 University Ave., City Heights619-280-5834The big bay windows are what makes Nancy's special. Perfect for that late-Victorian-era vibe.
Round Table Cocktail Lounge
1723 Euclid Ave., City Heightswww.roundtablecocktaillounge.comSome bars save their karaoke nights for the off days, like Mondays or Tuesdays. Not Round Table. Fridays and Sundays are karaoke nights. It's the live acts that have to carry Tuesday and Wednesday.
6195 University Ave., College Areawww.sdsatinlounge.comThe former College Rocks caters to girls 18 and up who just want to dance—and the guys who pine for them—with reggaeton on Thursdays and hip-hop nights Fridays and Saturdays.
4757 University Ave., City Heightswww.thetowerbar.comWe're still bummed that Tower had to stop holding shows, because it gave us an excuse to drive out to this punk-rock institution. Strong drinks, a kitschy, vintage vibe and competitive eating mean you need to go at least once.