1030 Broadway, San Diego
Set between the Gaslamp District and Golden Hill, Wednesday’s monthly-gone-fortnightly Dub Dorado packs the rustic lounge with a miscellany of Downtown clubbers, Uptown hipsters, and old-school dubstep and drum & bass heads. Bartenders in gold-miner getups serve Pabst tall cans ($5) and specialty cocktails ($9) while Otis the white buffalo head observes the revelry from his vantage point above the jukebox. Paintings of early America on rust-red walls, old-timey chandeliers, and a cattle-skull-and-pickax logo on the wood-cover menus craft the lounge’s California Gold Rush aesthetic. DJs Reactivity, Headshake, Mr. Biggs, Austin Speed, and Pawn rattle paint chips off the ceiling with six 18-inch subwoofers while club photographers James Norton and Jeff “Turbo” Corrigan capture patrons in various states of abandon circulating between the dance floor, the “dudes” and “dames” rooms, and the smoking patio out back.
No stranger to maxed-out dance nights, the lounge is regularly filled to capacity (190 people) when Lee “Groundfloor” Schneider’s Young Guns, Adam Salter’s Boys & Girls, and 5&A Dime/Saul Q’s Milk & Cookies are on the bill.
I return the following Monday evening to sample the house cocktails. Seven others populate the bar, which seats about 25, sipping drinks and making mellow conversation.
“These are the kind of nights I like to come out to,” says bartender Josh as he places a Kentucky River (Buffalo Trace bourbon, cacao, and peach bitters) on the racy 1960s lacquered comic bar top, a remnant from the building’s past as dive Hong Kong Nite Club. A Muppets movie plays on mute while Devo, Justice, and the Small Faces spin in the jukebox. A billiard table occupies the dance floor. The vibe is relaxed — pure lounge, after-work ambiance — the opposite extreme of Wednesday night’s rager.
Owners and bona fide cocktail nerds (their blog insists that there is no such thing as a vodka martini) the Stanton brothers have created a first-rate summer drink menu for 2010. If cocktails aren’t your cup, El Dorado offers a handful of regular and seasonal drafts, a generous assortment of bottles and cans, and a connoisseur’s selection of bourbons, whiskeys, and ryes.
Electronic dance scene not your thing? Lady Dottie and the Diamonds rock out monthly.
— Chad Deal
Hours: 7 p.m.–2 a.m.; 5 p.m.–2 a.m. on Fridays; Draft beer, $4–8; bottles, $4–12; cocktails, $9
Happy Hour: $5 cocktails and discounted beer until 9 p.m. daily.
The Deal: $5 PBR tall can