Air Conditioned Lounge
4673 30th St., Normal Heights 619-501-9831 www.airconditionedbar.com We're not saying this just because he writes for CityBeat, but DJ Scotto's eclectic every-other-Friday happy-hour sets are the perfect way to end the week.
Blind Lady Ale House
3416 Adams Ave., Normal Heights www.blindladyalehouse.com One of the great success stories of the past year: Two hip, creative couples come up with the idea of opening a beer-and-pizza joint and manage to nail it. BLAH's a family-friendly place that takes its beer seriously, recently tapping the first keg of its own house beer, Automatic Brewing Co. #1.
4612 Park Blvd. University Heights www.bourbonstreetsd.com Get all gussied up and head over here on weekdays for the daily happy hour, which includes $2 domestic drafts, $3 pitchers and well drinks for a measly four bucks. Oh, and did we mention there's never a cover? Recession, schmeschmession.
2934 Adams Ave., Normal Heights www.cantinamayahuel.com Mayahuel recently got a full liquor license and now offers more tequilas than we knew existed. If you're not so up on your tequila but want a good margarita, the kind staff will steer you in the right direction. And food-wise: Damn, do we love their chicken tacos.
1839 Adams Ave., University Heights www.cheerssandiego.com Don't come here expecting a replica of the place where Norm and Cliff threw 'em back. Some of the people may know your name, but it's almost guaranteed it's never as crowded as the TV bar that shares its name. This is a good thing.
4696 30th St., Normal Heights www.kadanclub.com Kadan loves the theme night. They have electro-punk clash on Tuesdays, drum-and-bass on Wednesdays and psychobilly greasers galore on Thursdays. And for a rather under-the-radar neighborhood joint, they pull in some major out-of-town DJ talent on the weekends.
4079 Adams Ave., Kensington www.myspace.com/thekensingtonclub Quite literally split in half, head left at the entrance for a cool, neighborhood dive with one of the funkiest bathrooms in the city (it even has its own MySpace page), or choose right for a bad-ass rock club that's fucking loud even with earplugs.
4191 Adams Ave., Kensington www.kensingtonvine.com Kensington specializes in boutique wines, the kind of wines that go beyond a French pinot or a Chilean merlot. Extend your palate.
Lancers Cocktail Lounge
4671 Park Blvd., University Heights www.lancerscocktaillounge.com This neighborhood joint's been around for more than four decades and hasn't seen a need to rehab (except for switching out the old jukebox a couple of years ago). They boast that you'll find “no energy drink mixers” here, save for really strong coffee.
4622 Park Blvd., University Heights www.leilounge.com A little South Beach in University Heights, with outdoor seating, cabanas, cute waiters and fruity drinks. Very fruity drinks.
3342 Adams Ave., Normal Heights www.lestats.com Split into two halves—one a coffee bar, the other a live-music venue—Lestat's doesn't serve alcohol, but there's little chance that you'll find a small club with better sound.
2103 El Cajon Blvd., University Heights www.myspace.com/livewirebar Far more inviting on the inside than it looks on the outside, this dive-y hipster hangout has arguably the best jukebox in town.
Lou Jones Inn
3391 Adams Ave., Normal Heights 619-563-9350 The folks here “look out for each other,” they tell us. So, strangers beware? Probably not, but just know that a fight with one Lou Jones barfly is a fight with all of them.
The Ould Sod
3373 Adams Ave., Normal Heights www.theouldsod.com “Unpretentious” is the key word for this popular Irish pub, where live Celtic music or karaoke is a constant and “Buy Back Mondays” give you every third drink for a quarter. It's also the mayor of San Diego's favorite bar, but don't let that stop you.
4050 Adams Ave., Kensington www.poncesrestaurant.com This family-owned bar and restaurant has better margaritas than just about anywhere in town and the best chorizo torta you've ever had in your life. And dig the numerous hand-painted portraits of old ladies on the wall. Classic.
3402 Adams Ave., Normal Heights www.rosieogradyspub.com Happy hour all day on Tuesdays, live bands every now and again and a trivia night. Not bad.
Triple Crown Pub
3221 Adams Ave., Normal Heights 619-281-0263 All the sports packages on their numerous televisions make Triple Crown a fine place to spend a Sunday afternoon. Plus, they still serve that crazy-good onion dip.