333 N. Pacific St., Oceansidewww.cohnrestaurants.comThe latest eatery from the Cohn family has a sophisticated-yet-casual bar area with big flat-screen TVs and an ocean-view patio on which to sit and sip your vodka cocktail—because they have a seriously insane vodka selection, more than we knew existed.
421 Grand Ave., Carlsbad760-434-1173Find out why it's called the “Wrinkle Room” during the day, or just wait till nighttime to get your groove on with a younger, equally sweaty, beach crowd.
1542 N. Coast Hwy., Encinitas760-753-2094The low-key Leucadian welcomes you to Encinitas' strip of dives with pool tables, shuffleboard, a $2 Beer of the Month and friendly bartenders behind a nautical-themed bar.
Belly Up Tavern
143 South Cedros Ave., Solana Beachwww.bellyup.comWith arguably the finest sound of any club in the county, the Belly Up is legendary for holding some of the area's best concerts. Having a mellow crowd, grandstand-style seating and awesome food at the adjoining Wild Note Café doesn't hurt, either.
390 Grand Ave., Carlsbadwww.myspace.com/boarcrossnFor club-starved Carlsbad residents, Boar Cross'n suffices with DJs and bands playing Thursday through Saturday, an itsy-bitsy VIP section and bouncers who think they're working in Hollywood. Good place to pick up chicks or one of the Marines surrounding them.
Bub's Whiskey Dive
301 Pier View Way, Oceansidewww.bubswhiskeydive.bravepages.comBub's is a classic dirty American dive bar. Cross its peanut-shell-littered floor to choose from the huge selection of beers on tap. On your way out, be sure to hit up the restroom condom-dispenser and salute Old Glory hanging on the far wall.
Coyote Bar & Grill
300 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbadwww.coyotecarlsbad.comWhen the small dance floor surrounding the bar inside gets too crowded, head outside to the fire pits for nightly live music. Come to Monday and Tuesday's karaoke nights and cheer on both professional singers and American Idol wannabes.
Daley Double Saloon
546 Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas760-753-1366Call it The Saloon, unless you wanna sound like a tourist. With its vintage mile-long bar, walls of Western murals and dim lighting, you feel like you're actually in a saloon—albeit one where gunslingers don v-necks and Vans.
Duke's Cardiff Office
110A Aberdeen Drive, Cardiff760-753-7766The Office proudly encompasses shabby surfer chic. With the cheapest drinks around, it welcomes surfers, professionals, students and, of course, the locals who've been staying late since 1965.
First Street Bar
656 South Coast Hwy 101, Encinitaswww.myspace.com/1ststreetbarA locals hangout, First Street Bar offers a relaxed vibe with plenty of tables and simple white Christmas lights. Wednesday is open-mic, and Thursday and Saturday showcase live bands.Gaffney's Wine Bar166B N. El Camino Real, Encinitaswww.gaffneyswinebar.comNow settled at their new location, owners Robert and Donna Gaffney continue providing a warm, friendly wine bar for both connoisseurs and those still training their taste buds.
The Golden Tee Cocktail Lounge
1065 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad760-729-2626Although it's finally capitulated to California's no-smoking-indoors policy and their golf video game is gone, The Tee has a kickin' jukebox, cozy booths and take-no-crap bartenders.
The Haunted Head
207 N. Tremont St., Oceansidewww.myspace.com/hauntedheadosideAt this pirate-themed bar, you can get boozy, chat with cute barmaids and play I-spy with all the pirate paraphernalia. Plus, they hold “pirate parties” three times a year.
Elephant Bar & Grill850 Tamarack Ave., Carlsbadwww.hensleyspub.comCreated by the accordionist from Flogging Molly, Hensley's is dripping with cred among those who know what good music is.
2531 S Coast Highway 101, Cardiff by the Seawww.myspace.com/thekrakenbarIf your kind of bar usually has luxury cars parked in front, go across the street to Beach House. Deemed “Best Pour on the Shore,” The Kraken is a real beach dive. The floors are sticky and the restrooms are nasty, but the bikers who frequent this bar probably don't give a shit.
300 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbadwww.oceanhousecarlsbad.comRecognizable as the old Neiman's, this Victorian mansion now hosts a variety of music and dancing events all month long. Ocean House boasts a beautiful ballroom, though sometimes this lends to an eighth-grade-dance feel, with wall-clinging men watching the single ladies groovin' on the floor.
135 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach; 571 Carlsbad Village, Carlsbadwww.pizzaport.comThe Solana Beach location is the birthplace of Port Brewing Co., makers of brews like the Twerp (a Belgian ale) and the Party Pants Pilsner. We recommend pizzas made with wholegrain beer crust. Because why wouldn't you opt for pizza crust made with beer?
The Royal Dive
2949 San Luis Rey Rd., Oceansidewww.myspace.com/theroyaldiveA hidden gem in Oceanside, the Royal Dive has live music five nights a week, with an emphasis on original music. If you're cool enough, maybe co-owner Nate will slap your Polaroid on the wall.
The Shanty Cocktail Lounge
126 Chesterfield Drive, Cardiff by the Sea760-753-1548Another beloved locals spot to get a stiff drink, The Shanty has a covered outdoor smoking patio, pool tables and a machine with a Find the Difference video game—the erotic version.
Surf & Saddle
123 W. Plaza, Solana Beach858-755-9474Far from the upscale atmosphere one might expect in this well-to-do beach town, the Saddle is a total dive that's a good place for compulsive gamblers to drink away their sorrows after losing money at the track.
221 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach858-755-4115Tidewater Tavern is a relaxed sports bar where you can chow on fish tacos or burger pitas along with your cold brew. Keep $1 handy, so that after slinging back a few drinks, you can find out your B.A.C. with their breathalyzer.
The Village Pub
2990 State St., Carlsbad760-434-2114The friendly staff makes everyone feel like a local. Just across the street from the train tracks, The Pub is home to the “Train Beer,” a 12-ounce domestic brew for $1.75 every time the train goes by.
2633 S. Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff760-943-9644Yogi's has Direct TV to satisfy sports fans, as well as good deals like a $10 burger and beer special. Live bands play Thursday and Sunday, and DJs get dance parties going Friday and Saturday.