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Redwing Bar & Grill

4012 30th Street, North Park

Redwing

One block north of University Avenue on 30th Street, dive-bar debauchery takes place regularly at Redwing. Fridays and Saturdays, karaoke is hosted by Granny Pearl, with 50 percent of the clientele in drag. Anything goes here: you’ll see a variety of genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, sizes, and styles in this friendly, drunken environment. There might be some freaking in full-bent-over doggy-style position while, a few feet away, a singer belts out a ’90s hit. There’s a menu full of bar-food favorites and a back smoking patio to regroup. If Granny Pearl hosted karaoke at United Nations meetings, we might be closer to world peace.

The Shakedown Bar

3048 Midway Drive, Midway District

The Shakedown

Shakedown is a little rough around edges. Not long after the venue opened, I witnessed a brawl break out during a set by ’80s punk legends Battalion of Saints; it left just about everybody in the mosh pit soaked in airborne Olde English. The place’s motto is “Booze, Bikes, Bands, Broads, and Rods,” and that’s exactly what you’ll get. When they aren’t blasting some of the grittiest, most dissonant local and touring acts through a sound system dialed in by Chris Fields of the Dwarves, Shakedown is holding impromptu barbecues, skate demos, and car-club rallies. A true punk dive.

The Shanty

126 Chesterfield Drive, Cardiff-by-the-Sea

The Shanty

Across the street from the Cardiff Office sits the Shanty. Like the Office, the building is small and looks plenty divey. Pool tables and foosball are located behind a wraparound bar. Unlike the Office, this bar is often a mix of privileged patrons, washed-up surf stars, and tanned beach bums. Here, a casual smile or glance from a stranger is a given. Only a block away from Cardiff’s other dive, the crowds couldn’t seem further apart.

Silver Spigot

2221 Morena Boulevard, Bay Park

Silver Spigot

True to its name, the singular tap at this Bay Park artifact is Budweiser, pouring at a smooth $2.50 a pint. Not unlike the neon bikini bottoms strung between the ass cheeks of the big-hair babes gracing its walls, the Spigot is lodged happily somewhere in the early ’80s, complete with outdated soundtrack, old arcade games (Golden Tee, anyone?), and even a — what do you call it? — pay phone by the front door. Most days, you’ll find a dedicated congregation of 50-and-older daylight-drinkers sucking on $3 wells, starting with first call at 10:00 a.m.

Sro Lounge

1807 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill

Sro Lounge

This hole-in-the-wall ought to be protected by the San Diego Historical Society. As with most dives, you can find the drunken senior citizen at the end of the bar recounting life experiences to strangers, but in this case, the stories are multidimensional. Located down the block from the Tin Can Alehouse, there is often a spillover of underground concertgoers adding to the diversity. The soiled, ritzy hotel carpet, chandelier, and mirrors add to a dirty-regal feel, and $4 cocktails enhance the charm.

Tobacco Rhoda’s

2591 University Avenue, North Park

Tobacco Rhoda’s

This is the place with the girl painted on the outside wall, to freak out passersby, and it opens its doors at 8:00 a.m. Big spenders buy beer in pint glasses for $3.50, but anyone who’s in the know goes for a $2 mug that holds only a bit less. In the corner lurk a gumball machine and a magic claw, with unclaimed prizes locked behind glass. The only way to get into the bathroom is with a token from the bartender. Instead of throwing you out for playing the “quarters” game at the bar, the tender might join in.

Wong's Dragon Room

7126 University Avenue, La Mesa

Wong’s Dragon Room

At nearly four decades old, this den of decadence adjacent to Wong’s Golden Palace Chinese restaurant is an established pillar of the La Mesa dive scene. Whether you’re here for the karaoke, live music from rock-and-soul heavies the Tighten Ups, or acts such as the Johnson Project Band, Cameltones, and Joey Harris (or maybe you were lured in by Wong’s majestic neon façade?), the Dragon Room is a jewel of the (dis)orient, with $2.50 drafts and $2.75 wells during happy hour (5:00– 7:00 p.m.). Forego the subpar cuisine and try the house Wong Cup.

Ye Olde Plank Inn

24 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach

Ye Olde Plank Inn

Formerly the favorite bar of the Mongols in Imperial Beach (some of whom still hang around), the cash-only Plank looks like a tiki bar. But ordering a mai tai will earn you a few raised eyebrows. Country and metal jam from the jukebox. There’s a lot of naval-ship memorabilia tacked to the walls. Something about the vibe screams fight!, but the huge patio begs to be occupied. If the drinks do their job, rest assured that there’s enough Advil, Tums, 5-Hour Energy, and random candy behind the bar to keep things rocking indefinitely.

More Nightlife: Artsy Funsy | Brew Ha Ha | Mix Masters | Kick up Your Heels | Speakeasies | Hipster Alert | Wee Hours

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Comments

getdave Aug. 3, 2012 @ 2:02 p.m.

You guys totally missed one of the great dives in north county: The Kraken in Cardiff. Best if you are on a bike cuz the parking is limited, Sundays have cool sit-in bands. Suitable for folks over 40, the Kraken is the place if you are old school biker or would like to be...

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Barefoot Aug. 8, 2013 @ 4:54 p.m.

El Uno bar is on University, not Adams

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