1403 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.myspace.com/thealibiclubThis Uptown haunt doesn't host live music anymore, but it still holds a place as one of Hillcrest's last great dive bars.
Avenue 5 Restaurant and Bar
2760 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hillwww.avenue5.comThis is not your father's happy-hour menu: wild mushroom tortellini, Champagne grapes in a Madeira broth or a camembert en croute.
1421 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.bajabettyssd.comRecessionistas rejoice! Not only does Betty's offer drinks and appetizers on the cheap Monday through Friday during “Papi Hour,” but it's also the home of the Billionaire Margarita—a ritzy tequila, Grand Marnier, OJ and freshly squeezed lime-juice beverage that makes even the most down-and-out paisa feel like a regular Donald Trump.
1475 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.myspace.com/bambooloungesdA bar for the hep cats and hipsters of Hillcrest. Swing by on Wednesdays, when you can bring in your old records for them to play.
1808 W. Washington St., Mission Hillswww.bardynamite.comIt's small, dark and filled with people who dress better than you, and it has a solid weekly lineup of groove-based DJs for the hipster-hop set. Added bonus: Lucha Libre Taco Shop is right next door.
3841 Fourth Ave., Hillcrest619-325-0122It can get a little warm and stuffy in this new companion wine bar to Arrivederci restaurant, but it's still a great place to wait for a table next door.
3796 Fifth Ave., Hillcrestwww.thebrassrailsd.comPurportedly a gay bar, even breeders are attracted to the Monday-night deals: 80-cent drinks, $80 bottle service and Junior the Disco Punk spinning '80s music.
530 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.cafebleusd.comThey're not kidding—this wine bar and bistro is really blue, which might give you the illusion of being cooler on hot summer evenings.
3100 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill619-298-9495The perfect haunt to start a night of barhopping, with its revolving piano lounge and thrice-weekly karaoke nights. Beware, the drinks are stiff, and thanks to the miracles of Cialis, so are the elderly patrons.
1027 University Ave., Hillcrest619-543-0790The Lounge was just added to California Cuisine Restaurant this year, but patrons can expect the food from the restaurant's high-quality kitchen to please the palate, along with unique drinks like the Wheat Grass Martini, made with a shot of wheat grass, citrus juice and top-shelf vodka.
The Cherry Bomb
2237 First Ave., Bankers Hill619-544-1173As they told us on the phone, “Stiff drinks, good jukebox, no douchebags.”
222 W. Washington St., Mission Hills619-296-2721Laid-back, with friendly bartenders and lots of TVs. Grab a drink before (or after) eating at Sushi Deli next door.
Excalibur Cigar Lounge and Hookah Bar
3858 Fifth Ave., Hillcrestwww.excaliburcigarhookahbar.comIf you don't mind the flavorful smoky smell, Excalibur is lively on weekend nights with exotic music, belly-dancing and a decent selection of beer and wine.
142 University Ave., Hillcrest619-298 2500A sort of Fantasy Island for drinkers, this new kid on the block offers two-for-one Margaritas during its seven-days-a-week happy hour. Expect giggles when requesting a “salty rim.”
3780 Park Blvd., Hillcrestwww.theflamesd.comThis haunt is the cat's meow, thanks to its new XXX Fridays, featuring a truth and booty contest “with a twist,” $300 in weekly prizes and $4 Long Islands.Flicks1017 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.sdflicks.comLive out your queer Animal House fantasies on Wednesdays for their College Boys Night featuring $2 wells all night. Chances are, you'll not only wake up with “balls” written on your face, but the actual thing as well. Chug, chug, chug!
902 W. Washington St., Mission Hillswww.thegatheringrestaurant.comThe décor is a bit dated, but the service is great, and the owner, Dan, is even prone to giving impromptu magic shows (really!).
505 Kalmia St., Bankers Hill619-234-3525Ode to Imperial House: Pianist Rick Lyon is the man with the pre-recorded backing band / It's definitely an old-school scene; comparisons to Regal Beagle are pretty keen / That Rick, he does a mean Neil Diamond, and Bartender Dave keeps drinks flyin'.
Jake's on 6th
3755 Sixth Ave., Hillcrestwww.jakeson6thwinebar.comIt's so new that the website doesn't tell you jack, but we've been here and we're loving its pleasant vibe and warm orange-rust glow. Belly up to the solid concrete bar and knock back a glass or two.
817 W. Washington St., Mission Hills619-298-3624Ever seen a hipster sing George Michael's“I Want Your Sex”? A grizzled wino belt out Whitney Houston's “The Greatest Love of All”? A sorority girl drunkenly fall while trying to do the splits and slurring the words to Britney's “Womanizer?” All these things and more await you at The Lamplighter, which is all karaoke, every night.
3610 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest619-296-6407www.theloftsandiego.comThe Loft is the kind of place that's busy at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday and still jammed for the next five hours.
1459 University Ave., Hillcrest619-297-0660Burger and a beer. That's really all that needs be said.
Martinis Above Fourth
3940 Fourth Ave., Hillcrestwww.martinisabovefourth.comGet ready to dust off that ol' striped Victorian one-piece swimming suit and that straw skimmer hat of yours, for MA4's annual End of Summer Party, Sept. 6. With drink specials for guests in swimwear, this is one shindy sure to make a splash.
Modus Gastro Bar
2202 Fourth Ave., Bankers Hillwww.modusbar.comName change. What was once Modus Supper Club is now a “gastro bar,” defined here as a bar that “serves damn good food.” One of the first bars to do the artisan cocktail thing, it's also where you'll find Ariana, whom Seth Combs describes as “the hottest bartender in town.”
3811 Park Blvd., Hillcrest619-294-7583numberssd.comThe home of Tuesday's “Dirty Filthy Whore,” Friday's ladies night “G-spot” and Saturday's “Loaded,” this place—like Madonna would say—makes the people come together. African babies and cone bras are optional; drunken debauchery is pretty much guaranteed.
Number One Fifth
3845 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest619-299-1911Number One Fifth sees itself as more of a friendly hangout than the hot place to pick up on people. They're proud of the eclectic mix, and with a pool table on the patio, it's a great place to enjoy San Diego summer nights.
3537 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest619-295-2878Rumor is that San Diego mafioso used to frequent this bar. And maybe they still do—only now they're wearing skinny jeans and ironic haircuts.
1549 El Prado, Balboa Parkwww.cohnrestaurants.comSipping sangria on the Prado's courtyard patio makes us happy.
1051 University Ave. Hillcrestwww.richssandiego.comThe home of Saturday's “Voltage” High-NRG night, this club also holds the distinction of being the land that faux hawks and self-tanner forgot. Make sure to apply the Crest Whitestrips one night prior, dab on some MAC Studio Fix like there's no tomorrow and paint the town red, honey. It's your world, diva—we're all just living in it.
1271 University Ave., Hillcrest619-299-7372 Not much has changed on the inside when it comes to the joint formerly known as San Diego Sports Club. Still has that dive vibe and the best one-two-punch drink special (shot of Beam and a Pabst tall boy for $5), but they've been booking some solid bands since the change and just purchased the adjacent restaurant.
3701 India St., Mission Hillswww.shakespearepub.comCan't possibly top last year's blurb: “Looking to watch a Chelsea vs. Manchester City football match? Live? This is your spot for all things British—Smithwicks, Harp, Boddingtons and, when you've had too much, a cup of P.G. Tips.”
1807 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill www.srolounge.comThis ain't no drag club, so don't be surprised if the trans patrons have mustaches and beards, as most of them hold respectable day jobs. Ingest some 'shrooms and take a gander at their website's gallery section—you'll thank us for it later.
Tin Can Ale House
1863 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hillwww.myspace.com/tincanalehouseWith about 50 different kinds of canned beers (as well as a few bottled ones), Tin Can is a tiny but welcoming neighborhood bar with decent rock shows two or three nights a week.
Top of the Park/Inn at the Park
3167 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hillwww.parkmanorsuites.com Top of the Park is all about the roof deck. From there, patrons can look down on San Diego's bright lights. Clientele includes out-of-towners from L.A. and Palm Springs who seek it out. Whether that's a recommendation or not is up to you.
The Tractor Room
3687 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest619-543-1007www.thetractorroom.comThey refer to their cocktail menu as a “cocktail library.” Indeed, there's, like, two dozen different martinis alone. We dig the Tractor Room bloody Mary, though—it's a meal in a glass.
1218 University Ave. Hillcrestwww.universalhillcrest.comLess than two years into its run (that's 15, in gay years), San Diego's original “omni-sexual” club is still shiny and managing to pack all the pretty people in. Get ready to practice your best “blue steel” and then get shunned by patrons too young and fierce to get the reference.
308 University Ave. Hillcrestwww.urbanmos.comAn LGBT institution, Mo's is your one-stop shop for Hillcrest fun and frolic. Country line dancing lessons? Check. Fruity drinks that are topped with handfuls of plastic fauna? No problem. Margaritas that make your poop blue? You got it!
The Wit's End
420 Robinson Ave., Hillcrestwww.witsendpubandcafe.comA strip mall is an unlikely place for a beer bar, but this small, low-key spot carries a decent selection of brews and wines, as well as some surprisingly tasty grub.
Wet Stone Wine Bar
1927 Fourth Ave., Bankers Hill619-255-2856Situated in an 1896 Victorian house, Wet Stone combines its classy atmosphere with exotic wines paired with perhaps more exotic bar food.
The Wine Encounter
690 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.thewineencounter.comWine tasting on Tuesdays, half off wine flights on Thursdays, $4 for glasses from open bottles on Sundays.
The Wine Lover
3968 Fifth Ave., Hillcrestwww.thewineloversd.comHillcrest's first wine bar is still proud of its unique wine flights and terrific patio.
1243 University Ave., Hillcrestwww.winestealssd.comThis is the place to go for your hair of the dog on Sunday morning. They open at 10 a.m. Drink discount glasses of wine until they've used up all the wine they opened during the previous week.