The Hole’s “best chest” contest often sees over 600 attendees in a day.
2820 Lytton Street, San Diego
The Hole calls itself “a pretty much world famous dive” and — having proffered stiff ones since 1934 (then Murphy’s Beer Garden) — it may well be true. If the name doesn’t give away the tongue-in-cheek flamboyance of this Liberty Station–adjacent cocktail cabana, perhaps the placard nailed above the bar will. “Only sailors get blown offshore,” it reads — a wink and nod to the military/gay crowd that lend the Hole its special charm.
Previously dubbed the 19th Hole due to its proximity to the Sail Ho Golf Club, the bar sits in a depression dug in the early 1900s to access an aqueduct that ran between Mission Bay (then called False Bay) and San Diego Bay. Now, the stairs at the Hole’s entrance descend into a tropical garden patio complete with tabletop firepit, towering ferns, and a Buddha head poised among the foliage.
To get a taste of the bar in its full glory, poke in on a Thursday ($4 Stoli and Bacardi all night) or, better, a Monday ($2 wells, $5 32 oz. well pitchers) for the weekly wet underwear contest. The Hole is packed on Sundays ($4 Three Olives — noon to 3), when the monthly “best chest” contest (which dates back to the ’70s in the days of the leather-heavy Hole Sunday Beer Bust) often sees over 600 in attendance over the course of the day.
Really, though, there’s no such thing as a bad day to visit when anytime specials include $12 Long Island mini pitchers, $7 Yellow Tail mini pitchers, $7 Coors Light mini pitchers with a Jäger shot, and $2 well shots with a beer purchase.
The patio grill fires up around 8:30 most nights and cooks burgers and dogs to accompany 12 selections of draught beer or mixed-drink pitchers poured by Nino, the Hole’s staple bartender of 13 years. Sharing owners with the nautical Fiddler’s Green restaurant and bar on Shelter Island, the Hole touts free Wi-Fi and a piano with a few broken keys to carry the mood between jukebox jams.
Not accustomed to saluting the same sex? Don’t let it stop you. The Hole is open to everyone, and you won’t be the only straight sailor in the brig.
Hours: Mon, 4 p.m.–2 a.m.; Tues and weds, 5 p.m.–11 p.m.; Thurs, 4 p.m.–12 a.m.; Fri and sat, 3 p.m.–2 a.m.; Sun, 1 p.m.–2 a.m.
The Deal: $5 32 oz. well pitchers (Mondays)