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Lucky 13: San Diego's Most Iconic Dive Bars

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Everybody's got their favorite dive bar, a regular booth, a bartender or two on first-name basis status. Sometimes there's a menu, usually offerings from the food groups "greasy" or "fried", but you're grateful for it all the same because it keeps you from getting too saturated. Even when they're rough around the edges, there's a cozy quality to a good dive; if a bar's been around a long time, something's gotta be right.

In honor of Eater's first Cocktail Week, we've put together a map of San Diego's Iconic Dive Bars; some are decades-old, all have well-earned character. We only had room for 13; if we've missed your spot please tell us about it, and what makes the place special, in the comments.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Nunu's

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3537 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-2878
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Naugahyde abounds at this 60's-era watering hole where it's often standing room-only. Order stomach-steeling bar bites(burgers, fried stuff in a basket) from the bar's kitchen window.

2. Albie's Beef Inn

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1201 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 291-1103
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Gauzy painted-lady portraits, cougars on the prowl, an old school menu(entrees are served with a single giant cooked carrot). Oh, and it's in a Travelodge.

3. Pacific Shores Bar

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4927 Newport Avenue
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 223-7549
Pac Shores is a block from the beach, so the under-the-sea theme (depicted in black light paint) seems fitting. Enjoy the cheap drinks and the way your date's teeth glow in the dark.

4. The Lamplighter

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817 W Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-3624
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Channel your inner "Glee" character and muster up some courage for this dive's raucous karaoke nights; the cheap drinks help.

5. Red Fox Room

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2223 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 297-1313
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The hotel that houses it may have gotten a makeover, but this dimly-lit piano bar (its rooms were transplanted here from England in the 20's) remains its friendly, worn-in self. (RIP Shirley!)

6. Star Bar

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423 E St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-5575
A dive-y holdout in the middle of Gaslamp, the neon-lit Star Bar is cheap, but cash-only. Though to fit in with the neighboring club scene, there's a cover charge($5) at door.

7. Live Wire Bar

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2103 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 291-7450
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Celebrating a 20th anniversary qualifies the Live Wire for icon status, as does one of the best jukeboxes in town. Bonus points for a dive bar-rarity, a good craft beer selection.

8. The Aero Club Bar

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3365 India St.
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 297-7211
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May have come close to jumping the dive bar shark with a recent feature in Maxim, but the enormous whiskey selection (400+), large comfy booths and lack of pretension keep it on the list.

9. The Waterfront Bar & Grill

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2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-9656
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Touted as San Diego's oldest tavern, regulars are grateful for their early morning breakfasts (open at 6 a.m.) and burgers, both popular hangover cure-alls.

10. Lancers Cocktail Lounge

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4671 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 298-5382
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This mellow, neighborly dive has been pouring stiff ones for nearly 40 years; it's refreshingly scene-free.

11. The Alibi

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1403 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-0881
You just might need one after a long day or night of drinking here (happy hour starts at 8 a.m. and goes til 6 p.m.

12. Turf Supper Club

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1116 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 234-6363
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Once a 1950's hub for the horse-racing set, the Turf's now slightly overrun by hipsters who flirt over classic cocktails and meat cooked at a communal grill.

13. The Kraken

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2531 S Highway 101
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
This waterside North County dive is a go-to for the biker crowd. Don't ride a hog? You can go for the live music or go to play pool, just don't go to the bathroom.

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1. Nunu's

3537 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Naugahyde abounds at this 60's-era watering hole where it's often standing room-only. Order stomach-steeling bar bites(burgers, fried stuff in a basket) from the bar's kitchen window.
3537 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

2. Albie's Beef Inn

1201 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA 92108
Gauzy painted-lady portraits, cougars on the prowl, an old school menu(entrees are served with a single giant cooked carrot). Oh, and it's in a Travelodge.
1201 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108

3. Pacific Shores Bar

4927 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
Pac Shores is a block from the beach, so the under-the-sea theme (depicted in black light paint) seems fitting. Enjoy the cheap drinks and the way your date's teeth glow in the dark.
4927 Newport Avenue
San Diego, CA 92107

4. The Lamplighter

817 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
Channel your inner "Glee" character and muster up some courage for this dive's raucous karaoke nights; the cheap drinks help.
817 W Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103

5. Red Fox Room

2223 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104
The hotel that houses it may have gotten a makeover, but this dimly-lit piano bar (its rooms were transplanted here from England in the 20's) remains its friendly, worn-in self. (RIP Shirley!)
2223 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104

6. Star Bar

423 E St, San Diego, CA 92101
A dive-y holdout in the middle of Gaslamp, the neon-lit Star Bar is cheap, but cash-only. Though to fit in with the neighboring club scene, there's a cover charge($5) at door.
423 E St
San Diego, CA 92101

7. Live Wire Bar

2103 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
Celebrating a 20th anniversary qualifies the Live Wire for icon status, as does one of the best jukeboxes in town. Bonus points for a dive bar-rarity, a good craft beer selection.
2103 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

8. The Aero Club Bar

3365 India St., San Diego, CA 92103
May have come close to jumping the dive bar shark with a recent feature in Maxim, but the enormous whiskey selection (400+), large comfy booths and lack of pretension keep it on the list.
3365 India St.
San Diego, CA 92103

9. The Waterfront Bar & Grill

2044 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Touted as San Diego's oldest tavern, regulars are grateful for their early morning breakfasts (open at 6 a.m.) and burgers, both popular hangover cure-alls.
2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

10. Lancers Cocktail Lounge

4671 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116
This mellow, neighborly dive has been pouring stiff ones for nearly 40 years; it's refreshingly scene-free.
4671 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116

11. The Alibi

1403 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
You just might need one after a long day or night of drinking here (happy hour starts at 8 a.m. and goes til 6 p.m.
1403 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

12. Turf Supper Club

1116 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102
Once a 1950's hub for the horse-racing set, the Turf's now slightly overrun by hipsters who flirt over classic cocktails and meat cooked at a communal grill.
1116 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102

13. The Kraken

2531 S Highway 101, Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007
This waterside North County dive is a go-to for the biker crowd. Don't ride a hog? You can go for the live music or go to play pool, just don't go to the bathroom.
2531 S Highway 101
Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007

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