Food & Drink

Cheap Sips and Good Times: San Diego’s Top 14 Budget Bars

San Diego is a city full of exciting nightlife options. From rooftop bars to beachfront lounges, there's no shortage of places to grab a drink and socialize.

However, not everyone wants to spend a fortune on drinks and snacks. Luckily, there are plenty of cheap bars around the city that offer great deals and a fun atmosphere.

Whether you're a student on a budget or simply looking for a more casual night out, San Diego has plenty of options for you.

These bars may not have the same fancy decor or extensive cocktail lists as some of the more upscale establishments, but they make up for it with their laid-back vibes, friendly staff, and unbeatable prices.

From dive bars to sports bars, there's something for everyone among the best cheap bars in San Diego. These spots are perfect for grabbing a few drinks with friends or even meeting new people.

Plus, with so many great deals and happy hour specials, you won't have to break the bank to have a good time. So, grab your friends, put on your party shoes, and get ready to explore the best cheap bars that San Diego has to offer.

1. Aero Club Bar

Aero Club Bar
3365 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Google Maps)

Looking for a cheap but cool bar to hang out in San Diego, California, without breaking the bank, then Aero Club Bar is the perfect place for you. This bar has a great vibe with locals, and the atmosphere is really nice.

The bartenders are skilled, and they quickly make your drinks with skill. The best part is that on Thursday – Sunday, there is a food truck, the "Space Cat BBQ" that serves some truly great BBQ that is smoked on-site.

The prices are very reasonable, and the selection of whiskeys is huge. There are also pool tables, air hockey, an outside patio, and a game room with pinball and old-school arcades. The music is not loud, so you can still enjoy conversation.

The bar is keeping to the COVID restrictions, and the staff is super friendly and helpful. Aero Club Bar is a laid-back bar with hundreds of whiskeys, and it draws a crowd with its pinball, a pool table, and an extensive whiskey selection.

2. The Cordova Bar

The Cordova Bar
1319 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110 (Google Maps)

The Cordova Bar is a hidden gem that offers a great atmosphere with friendly staff and affordable drinks.

The bar has a cool retro vibe with a digital jukebox and a patio area for outdoor seating.

The bartenders are skilled and make delicious cocktails. The bar has live music, karaoke, and other events that keep the place lively.

The Cordova Bar is a great place to hang out and have a good time without breaking the bank.

3. The Ould Sod

The Ould Sod
3373 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 (Google Maps)

The Ould Sod is a lively Irish pub with a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a cheap night out with friends.

The bartenders are friendly and attentive, and the prices are fair. The back room features another bar and a spacious patio.

The traditional music and karaoke nights are a hit with patrons. The drink selection includes imported drafts and local craft brews.

The Ould Sod is a great spot for catching up with friends over drinks and good vibes.

4. Sidecar Bar

Sidecar Bar
1310 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110 (Google Maps)

Sidecar Bar is a hidden gem of a dive bar with a great selection of craft beers and cocktails.

The atmosphere is laid back and welcoming, with arcade games like pinball and old school PacMan.

They also have a pool table and foosball. The bartenders are quick and efficient, and the service is excellent.

On weekends, there's usually a food truck parked outside. It's a great spot for a night out with friends or watching sports.

5. Waterfront Bar & Grill

Waterfront Bar & Grill
2044 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

Waterfront Bar & Grill is a local favorite for its cheap drinks, good food, and friendly service.

The bar has a laid-back atmosphere with a diverse crowd. The menu offers a great selection of burgers, wings, and deep-fried treats.

The bartenders are knowledgeable and quick to serve up drinks. The bar also has a live DJ and plenty of space for dancing.

Although the decor is a bit dated, the overall vibe is fun and welcoming. If you're looking for a cheap night out, Waterfront Bar & Grill is definitely worth checking out.

6. The Tower Bar

The Tower Bar
4757 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105 (Google Maps)

The Tower Bar is a small punk rock bar with a fantastic atmosphere and friendly bartenders.

The live band performances are talented and entertaining. The bar has a retro-style and is decorated with nostalgic relics of classic beers.

The limited selection of drinks are cheap but strong. The bar also occasionally hosts trivia nights and shows.

The Tower Bar is a great spot to enjoy live music and a beer in a unique location.

7. Northside Tavern

Northside Tavern
2228 Bacon St, San Diego, CA 92107 (Google Maps)

Northside Tavern is a great spot for those looking for a cheap bar with a lively atmosphere. The bartenders are friendly and the service is top-notch.

The outdoor seating area is a plus, providing great natural lighting and a comfortable ambiance.

They have a good selection of craft beers, but they can be a bit pricey. The happy hour food is a great value and of good quality.

This bar is perfect for those who enjoy watching sports, as they have plenty of TVs and a lively crowd. All in all, Northside Tavern is definitely worth a visit.

8. Swan Bar

Swan Bar
2933 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 (Google Maps)

Swan Bar is a hidden gem for those looking for a cheap night out. The ambiance is cozy and welcoming, with friendly bartenders and great music.

The cocktails are top-notch and reasonably priced, making it a great spot for a nightcap or happy hour.

The food is average, but the drinks more than make up for it. The outdoor patio is a nice touch, perfect for a date or a group of friends.

All in all, Swan Bar is a great addition to the neighborhood and definitely worth checking out.

9. Good bar

Good Bar
1872 Rosecrans St, San Diego, CA 92106 (Google Maps)

Good bar is a cheap and friendly neighborhood bar with a cool and chill atmosphere.

The bartenders are super friendly and attentive, and the service is always excellent.

They have a great selection of craft beers and offer awesome happy hour specials on food and drinks.

Plus, you can bring your own food from the next door and get a discount on your first beer.

10. The Lancers

The Lancers
4671 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116 (Google Maps)

The Lancers is a legendary dive bar that offers great drinks at affordable prices.

The bartenders are friendly and personable, and the atmosphere is chill with a good selection of beer.

The bar has two pool tables, a jukebox, and a pinball machine for entertainment. Although it is cash only, there is an ATM inside.

The Lancers is the perfect spot for a night out with friends, good drinks, and a fun dive bar atmosphere.

11. Live Wire

Live Wire
2103 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104 (Google Maps)

Live Wire is the ultimate dive bar experience. It has a punk feel and a gritty, welcoming atmosphere.

The drinks are stiff and affordable, with a great selection of beer on tap.

Happy hour is until 8 pm and there are occasional DJs. The bar is dog-friendly, and you can bring in outside food.

Live Wire is a must-visit for those who want an authentic dive bar experience.

12. The Dog

The Dog
4479 Everts St, San Diego, CA 92109 (Google Maps)

Looking for a cheap bar with a great atmosphere, excellent beer, and free pool games to enjoy with friends or family members, then The Dog is the place for you.

This unassuming tavern is the perfect spot to sit back, relax and enjoy a cold brew while watching your favorite sports on TV or playing darts with your friends.

The bartenders are super nice and provide great service to make your experience even better. During happy hour, you can even bring your furry friend along with you.

The Dog is a great little dive bar with an excellent craft beer tap list that you don't want to miss.

13. The Silver Fox Lounge

The Silver Fox Lounge
1833 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 (Google Maps)

The Silver Fox Lounge is a classic dive bar that offers a friendly atmosphere and cheap drinks.

With pool tables, a jukebox, and a front outdoor smoking area, there's always something to do.

The bartenders are known for their strong pours and great conversation. While the bar is cash only, it's well worth the visit for those looking for an authentic dive bar experience.

The Silver Fox Lounge is a local favorite and a must-visit for anyone in the area.

14. R place Sports bar and Grill

R Place Sports Bar And Grill
315 Tenth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Google Maps)

R Place Sports Bar and Grill is a great spot for those looking for a cheap bar with excellent service and food.

With a decent selection of drinks and a good menu, this bar has something for everyone.

The bartenders are knowledgeable and the atmosphere is laidback. The bar is steps away from a local park and close to a hotel and convention center.

Highly recommended for sports fans and those looking for a good time.