Bars and Clubs
The Gaslamp Quarter is the hottest part of downtown San Diego for the young and energetic nighttime crowd. Consider just walking around Fourth Street and picking a club at random, or try one of the ones mentioned here.
Belo (919 Fourth St., 619/231-9200, www.belosandiego.com, Fri.–Sat. 7 p.m.–2 a.m.) is a favorite hotspot with young club-hoppers. They’re drawn by the regular appearances of big-name DJs, the size of dance floors, and the big, strong drinks that aren’t too expensive, especially compared to those sold in competing Gaslamp clubs.
Women, be aware: Lots of men at Belo are on the prowl, but security is tight and you’ll still have fun, especially if you’re part of a group. Dressy attire is encouraged, and cover charge run $15 and up, depending on the night.
After a fashion, you’ll find truth in advertising at the On Broadway Event Center (615 Broadway, 619/231-0011, www.obec.tv). It is on Broadway—in the Gaslamp, not Manhattan. But it might feel like Manhattan, with the major-league weekend crowds and the overpriced drinks and the hot-stuff VIP room. (If you can get a VIP table, you’ll have a blast. Otherwise, the service On Broadway is nothing to write home about.) With five dance floors with different DJs, dancers who love house, trance, ’80s, and even salsa can find a place on the floor. Just beware of the lines at the door, especially if you’ve grabbed a spot on the VIP list, and the size of the cover charge if you’re not on the list.
You can have it all if you get into Aubergine (500 Fourth St. at Island St., 619/232-8100, www.aubergineon4th.com, Fri.–Sat. 6 p.m.–2 a.m., 21 and over). This complex offers three rooms for dancing, a restaurant and sushi bar, and a comedy club all in the same (big) place. If you’re coming to dance, get yourself on the guest list in advance to avoid the $20 cover. Expect a significant singles scene, good DJs spinning a mix of classics and new top hits, and crowds seeking sushi at happy hour (6–8 p.m.). The dress code tends toward the upscale, so leave the jeans behind and break out the slacks and cocktail dresses.
How can you not finish out your night at a club called The Bitter End (770 Fifth St., 619/338-9300, www.thebitterend.com, daily 3 p.m.–2 a.m., $10)? A step more mellow than most Gaslamp clubs, Bitter End has a distinct lounge feel with a dance club downstairs. The middle level is the main bar, which serves up pool, conversation, and the house special Black Martini. Upstairs is filled with soft couches and armchairs to recline on, plus Victorian architectural details and a historic atmosphere to please even a picky Goth. With a $10 cover, Bitter End offers one of the less expensive club experiences in the Gaslamp, but mind your dress. After happy hour, the dress code gets strictly enforced, and that means no tennis shoes.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition