As the San Diego nightlife scene continues to thrive and new bars and clubs open every month, it can seem utterly impossible to ever say no to a night of partying. We have to try everything at least once, and you’ll never miss a celebrity-hosted red carpet event on my watch.
But after a while of the same routine – no matter how glamorous it may be – I start to crave a refreshing change of pace. Where in San Diego can you go out on the weekend without having to be in the club scene with short skirts and bottle service all up in your grill? I get asked that question all the time.
San Diego entertainment venues like the beloved Anthology Supper Club and brand new Craft & Commerce in Little Italy as well as the tried and true La Jolla Comedy Store, genre-defying "dive" Quality Social and new swanky spot Donovan’s Circle of 5ths in the Gaslamp Quarter offer a seriously fun time without all the fuss.
Discover a few of our favorite club alternative San Diego entertainment ideas.
Have a better idea? Leave a comment below!
Anthology Supper Club in Little Italy
Anthology is a multi-story 1940s-inspired supper club that spotlights fine live music on the center stage. But unlike your average venue, Anthology excels in luxury interior design, premier acoustics, charming dining accommodations with award-winning chefs, and swanky lounge décor. Anthology’s unique blueprint ensures sound clarity and stage visibility from every dining destination in the house. The second floor features an additional full bar, informal dining, jocund lounge ambiance, and an outdoor VIP area. In the form of deep brown wooden tables overlooking the main stage, the casual dining maintains a formal feel. Upstairs lounge seating playfully manifests in plush rolling white cushions, paired with oversized tic-tack-toe games adorning central wooden tables. An 18 inch horizontal fireplace creates a soothing mood with feeble flames and an artistic ambiance. Check out Anthology for intimate concerts most nights of the week. For more details please visit Anthology in Little Italy. (pictured above)
Vin de Syrah in Downtown San Diego
The venue itself is primarily a wine parlor, however, Syrah offers a full selection of booze for those looking for a more intoxicating palate. At the crux of the experience that is Syrah, however, is the theme; the overwhelming sense of wonderment upon descending into the bar itself. Down the rabbit hole into this subterranean lounge, Syrah boasts an Alice and Wonderland theme with an unforgettable design by Michael Soriano. Syrah is the most unique wine bar concept to ever hit the San Diego nightlife scene. Head in early for a mellow wine tasting experience, or stay late when DJs heat up the underground space to create the perfect high-energy lounge atmosphere. For more details, please visit Syrah in San Diego. (pictured below)
The Comedy Store in La Jolla
Are you sick of tired sitcoms and stale comedy on TV? The Comedy Store in La Jolla has just the prescription for you. Associated with the world famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard, the La Jolla Comedy Store keeps the ball rolling with fresh talent and new routines most nights of the week. Funny men like Shawn Halpin, Cort McCown, and Kirk Fox, as well as dozens of other on-the-rise comedians, have graced their presence on the stage, providing patrons with a knee-slapping, gut-busting good time. Every show comes with a two drink minimum. For more details please visit The Comedy Store in La Jolla.
Craft & Commerce in Little Italy
The brand new Craft & Commerce is at once traditional and ahead of its time in décor and ideology. Piecing together antique reclaimed snow fencing from Wyoming on the ceiling, metal and glass front doors with Model T Ford steering wheels as the handles and quotes from notable books, like the Grapes of Wrath and On the Road written on the walls and across the booths, Craft & Commerce dares to test Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy of social engineering in San Diego’s ultra-modern community of Little Italy. Although you won’t find any sensory-overload gimmicks at Craft & Commerce, what you will find is extra-strength champagne cocktails served in 38-ounce punch bowls. For more details, please visit Craft & Commerce in Little Italy.
The Shout House in Downtown San Diego
If you’re looking for something a little more unconventional, The Shout House is the ticket to a night of fun. Sit amongst dueling piano men belting out rock ’n roll hits from the 1950s all the way to today’s current music. Go ahead and challenge them; the musicians are always ready to play any of your requests – just walk up the stage with your request and a creative tip. The Shout House also offers daily drink specials an appetizing menu to keep your taste buds satisfied. For more details, please visit The Shout House in San Diego.
Hookah Lounge at Gourmet India in Downtown San Diego
By day, Gourmet India offers up an abundant selection of delectable Indian dishes for lunch or an early bird dinner, but by night this humble restaurant transforms into a vibrant, laidback hookah lounge. Grab a seat on one of the cushioned floor tables and order a hookah for only $19. Choose from flavors such as Mango, Apple, Orange, Cherry, Mint, Grape, Strawberry, Mixed Fruit or Forbidden Indian Love. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even add red wine, mint leaves or fresh strawberries to your water filter for a one-of-a-kind experience. Hungry? Nosh on some late night bites such as Samosa, Lamb Naan, Chips & Chutney, Sambar Soup or Crab Cakes. For some heavenly late night meals, opt for the Indian Burrito stuffed with chicken curry cooked with fresh herbs, spices and two chutneys or the Veggie Style, Saag Paneer or Aloo Gobi served with green salad rice and Naan.
Prohibition in Downtown San Diego
This elusive Gaslamp “speakeasy” exudes sophistication, luxury, and mystery in the comfort of its underground haven. The intimate space stretches long across, allowing just enough room for cushy leather booth seating, belly bar seating, and mingling around the bar. The red lighting continues throughout the lounge with antique lamps affixed to the dark wood paneling that runs all the way throughout the interior. Hung along the walls are photographs of the iconic giants of the era: each and every one autographed by the star or starlet him or herself. The real power of distinction for Prohibition, however, is the music that truly reflects the era. Live jazz and bossa nova music set the mood for the subterranean lounge that advocates conversation among patrons just slightly below the music. For more details, please visit Prohibition in San Diego. (pictured below)
in East Village
Wine Steals stands strong in a simple concept of wine tasting in San Diego: to combine wine buying with tasting in a casual, fun atmosphere. Wine Steals brings this concept to life through colorful windowpanes, European bar settings, and casual lounge seating. The newest East Village Wine Steals is a two-story wine bar and lounge with an incredible location at PETCO Park. Sit on the rooftop terrace with direct views into the ballpark and taste a variety of fine wines with great friends. For more details, please visit Wine Steals in San Diego.
Quality Social in Downtown San Diego
Quality Social is a genre-defying sophisticated dive bar concept. What if all your favorite elements of a neighborhood bar were elevated to new luxury standards? Take Pabst Blue Ribbon drink specials and oversize red vinyl booths and add in live art installations, and American-European street food with 100% local ingredients. Quality Social isn’t trying to be a dive bar – it’s a playful juxtaposition of all that we love about neighborhood dives, presented in a new Quality light. Escape the clubs and head to Quality Social for dive bar bottle service, late night happy hour and mellow DJs and live music. For more details, please visit Quality Social in San Diego.
Nobel Experiment in East Village
Known for serving over 400 hand-crafted cocktails with house-made 100% clear and perfectly shaped ice blocks, Nobel Experiment sets the stage for classic spirits with an intimate and edgy Mauricio Couturier-designed space. Though you’ll be amazed by the thousands of gold-leafed skulls dancing below a crystal chandelier, the 800 square-foot den’s décor can’t compare to the ever-changing menu of hand-crafted cocktails inspired and instructed by Sam Ross of NYC’s Milk & Honey. You may have to sell your left hand to get a reservation at this speakeasy, but it’ll be well worth it. For more details, please visit Nobel Experiment in San Diego.
Donovan’s Circle of 5ths in Downtown San Diego
The same people who mastered the art of fine dining are now bringing us a whole new enterprise with Donovan’s Circle of 5ths, the revered chain’s first non-steak venture ever. A pillared cavern devoted to musical entertainment, the contemporary industrial interior of Circle of 5ths has taken over the old Bondi space and now boasts dark wood and leather furnishings matched against eclectic surrealist and abstract art, as well as a series of small, intricate metal sculptures of musicians. Every night, Donovan’s Circle of 5ths hosts live musical performances, such as flamenco guitar and sax or livelier fare like Motown, jazz, and battles on the dueling "Slam Grand" pianos. For more details, please visit Donovan’s Circle of 5ths in San Diego.
Have a better idea? Leave a comment below!
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