Updated at: 03-10-2023 - By: John Lau

Hillcrest is a vibrant neighborhood in San Diego, known for its lively atmosphere and diverse community. The area is home to a variety of bars, each with its own unique character and offerings.

Whether you’re looking for a casual dive bar or a trendy cocktail lounge, Hillcrest has something to offer.

In this article, we will explore the best bars in Hillcrest, highlighting the top spots to grab a drink and socialize with friends.

From classic neighborhood bars to upscale lounges, there’s a bar for every taste and budget. So, let’s dive in and discover the best bars in Hillcrest!

Top 15 Best Bars In Hillcrest

Martinis Above Fourth

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Martinis Above Fourth is a cabaret piano bar and lounge located in Hillcrest, San Diego. The bar features comedy, drag shows, and happy hour.

The bar was closed in 2020 but has since reopened under new ownership. The bar is open Sunday through Thursday from 4 pm to midnight and Friday & Saturday from 4 pm to 2 am.

The bar is known for its award-winning martini bar and eclectic dining. The bar is located at 3940 Fourth Avenue in San Diego. The bar accepts credit cards and takes reservations.

The Loft

The Loft in Hillcrest is a gay bar located in San Diego, California. It is a neighborhood bar that offers happy hour, pool table, snacks, karaoke, and Saturday brunch.

The bar is known for its mixed-crowd, UCSD dive bar atmosphere, and it is a popular location to pre-party before heading off for a night out.

The Loft is open to all and is a charming dive bar in the mostly gay neighborhood of Hillcrest.


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Flicks is a gay bar located in Hillcrest, San Diego. It has been a Hillcrest staple on the main drag of University Avenue for over 36 years.

Flicks is one of the original music video bars in the United States and is known for its fun and festive atmosphere, with more than 15,000 video clips, games, karaoke, and sports.

It is a place where everyone is welcome, and people of all ages and backgrounds can meet, make new friends, play pool, dance, share common interests, and hang out while having a drink and having fun. Flicks sponsors multiple teams in local gay leagues.

Flicks is arguably one of San Diego’s best gay bars. It is a lively bar to visit, and people can enjoy cocktails, sing-a-long to great music, and have fun.

Flicks has a weekly happy hour from Monday to Friday until 8 pm. They also have weekly events, and people can find more information on their Instagram page.

The Merrow

The Merrow is a bar and live music venue located in the Hillcrest community of San Diego, California. It is located at 1271 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103.

The venue is known for hosting local bands, although it occasionally hosts touring acts as well.

The Merrow has a calendar of events on its website, which includes live music performances and other events.

The venue is open during regular hours, which can be found on its website or by calling the phone number provided.

Urban MO’s Bar & Grill

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Urban MO’s Bar & Grill is a gay-friendly spot located in the center of Hillcrest, San Diego, known as the gayborhood.

It has been a “homo” away from home to the LGBTQ community and its allies for over 30 years.

The bar and grill is open seven days a week, and its hours are:

+ Monday – Thursday: 10am – 11pm (Kitchen Closes at 10pm),

+ Friday: 10am – 1am (Kitchen Closes at 11pm),

+ Saturday: 9am – 1am (Kitchen Closes at 11pm), and Sunday: 9am – 11pm (Kitchen Closes at 10pm) .

They serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, and they have a specials menu. Urban MO’s is known for its mouthwatering stylized burgers, oversized drinks, and over-the-top events.

They also have a happening dance floor, festive theme nights, and an outdoor patio. The bar and grill is home to the legendary Chad Michaels, and it hosts the weekly DreamGirls Revue which features the best local and global drag performers.

Urban MO’s is also active on Instagram, where they share photos and videos of their events and food.

Uptown Tavern

Uptown Tavern is a pub located in Hillcrest, San Diego. It serves locally sourced, sharable American plates and has a long list of microbrews.

The restaurant is a popular spot for locals to dine and dance. Uptown Tavern has a back patio and HD TVs, and offers weekday happy hour.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays, and open from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 4:00 pm to 12:00 am on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Uptown Tavern has an Instagram account with 11K followers and a Twitter account with the handle @UptownTavernSD.

Gossip Grill

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Gossip Grill is a bar located in Hillcrest, San Diego, that is known for being LGBT-friendly. It is Southern California’s only and best women’s bar, famous for its quirky cocktails, American comfort food, and sassy service.

The bar has a female-inspired decor and is a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community.

Gossip Grill hosts special events from October 14 to November 30, and age restrictions may apply during these events. The bar is open from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Mondays, and from 2:00 pm to 12:00 am from Tuesday to Thursday.

Gossip Grill has a significant presence on Instagram, with 23K followers and 1,842 posts.

According to a news article, Gossip Grill is one of the last bars of its kind in the region that puts queer and transgender women at the forefront of its business.

The Rail

The Rail is a gay nightspot located in Hillcrest, San Diego. It has been open since 1960 and is known for its bottle service, bar bites, patio, and theme nights.

The Rail is considered San Diego’s first gay bar and originally opened for business in the 1930s in Downtown’s historic Orpheum Theatre building.

The venue hosts a variety of events in the heart of Hillcrest neighborhood, including FLAUNT, REVOLUTION, OKTOBERFEST, TRICK, DETOUR, and VIP TABLESERVICE.

The Rail also has an Instagram account where they post about their events and specials. They are known for their full menu and offer takeout.

The Alibi

The Alibi is a local dive bar in San Diego with three locations in Hillcrest, Santee, and La Mesa. The Hillcrest location is at 1403 University Ave.

The bar has been open since 1972 and is known for servicing cocktails and beer. It has a retro jukebox and pool tables, and is a casual hangout spot.

The bar is open from 7am-2pm Monday to Friday, and 7am-2pm on Saturday and Sunday. The Hillcrest location has bike parking available.

The bar has a health score and is known for being a dive bar. Customers can find a variety of music on the jukebox, from new hip hop to Conway Twitty.

The Alibi is also active on Instagram, with accounts for both the Hillcrest location (@alibihillcrest) and the bar in general (@thealibibars) .

Pardon My French Bar & Kitchen

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Pardon My French Bar & Kitchen is a restaurant located in Hillcrest, San Diego, California. The restaurant offers California-French cuisine.

The menu includes dishes such as foie-gras, duck, and escargots. The restaurant has received positive reviews for its food and service. However, the restaurant has announced its closure in July 2018.

The Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall is a dive bar located in Hillcrest, San Diego. It is one of the city’s first openly gay bars and has been in operation since 1924.

The bar is known for its large cocktails, patio, and friendly atmosphere. It offers a variety of activities such as pool, karaoke, table pong, bingo, and trivia.

The bar is open Thursday through Sunday and is only for people over 21 years old. The Hole in the Wall is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, and it is known for being inclusive and welcoming to everyone.

The Redwing Bar & Grill

The Redwing Bar & Grill is a neighborhood bar located in North Park, San Diego. It is known for its casual drinks and bites, as well as popular karaoke and other theme nights.

The bar has a full outdoor smoking patio and 11 TVs. The menu includes items such as the Angus beef patty with peanut butter, wildflower honey aioli, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and toasted artisan bun, known as “The Redwing”.

While there are several Redwing Bar and Grill locations in San Diego, there is no location in Hillcrest.

The SRO Lounge

The SRO Lounge is a dive bar located in Hillcrest, San Diego. The name “SRO” stands for “Standing Room Only”.

The bar is known for its quirky and eccentric atmosphere, and is a popular local hangout. The service and ambiance are friendly and helpful, and the prices and pours are reasonable.

The bar serves a wide range of beers and cocktails. The SRO Lounge is located at 1807 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101.

Cheers Bar and Grill

Cheers Bar and Grill is a restaurant and bar located in San Diego, California.

Cheers Bar and Grill is located at 1839 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 in the University Heights neighborhood.

The bar has a cozy and laid-back ambiance with live music, billiards, shuffleboard, and a grill where customers can cook their own choice steaks and burgers. They also serve cocktails, craft beers, and pub fare.

The menu includes pub fare such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. There is also a grill where customers can cook their own choice steaks and burgers. The menu can be found on their website and on Menuism.

According to Rainbow Index, Cheers is a chill gay-friendly divey bar in San Diego, close to the Hillcrest area in University Heights. GayCities also lists Cheers as a gay bar in the University Heights neighborhood.

There is also a Cheers Bar in Las Vegas, which is set to close on Sunday, October 8, 2023, with the retirement of the owner.