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Left speechless

Divine intervention may be at play when Chad visits Little Bonanza.

Little Bonanza — because life’s too short to live in the dark.
Little Bonanza — because life’s too short to live in the dark.
Place

Little Bonanza

940 Palm Avenue, San Diego

In an era when any jerk with a Wi-Fi connection can condemn every small business on Earth for no good reason, it speaks volumes to find a bar with zero Yelp reviews. No off-topic whiners. No defensive regulars. Nothing. By most modern metrics, Little Bonanza may not even exist.

But try telling that to the day-drinkers at this I.B. hole-in-the-wall, where a heavy-set dude drunkenly alludes to his biblical calling in life while a gentleman in a Hawaiian shirt feigns interest in the tirade.

“Everything cheap!” the Filipina barmaid shouts when I ask about happy hour as a super-frosty mug of Pacifico slides across the bar. A beer or two later, the chubby chaplain shifts his sermon, demanding of the younger barmaid, “Do you know Led Zeppelin? They’re one of the best bands on Earth!” He takes off to the juke to prove it but quickly shuffles back, declaring, “They don’t have it!”

I sense divine intervention may be at play (never blame the beer), so I pop in a few bucks and type “LE” on the screen and, sure enough, there’s Zeppelin. I freeze. I’m faced with the classic ethnographical conundrum. If I really wish to observe my barmates in their natural habitat — waxing theological, making vague attempts at courtship with the barmaids, and being stumped by what might be the most straightforward piece of technology in the building — then surely this sort of interference would throw everything out of stasis. To hell with it, I decide. Life is too short to live in the dark. “When the Levee Breaks” roars out of the jukebox and I pass off the rest of my credits to the parson.

All told, I don’t really know what to say about this place. It’s at once so drab (beer, wine, cash only) and captivating (see above) that, like the Yelpers who may have come before me, I’m left speechless. There’s not a whole lot to it, but if you ever have the longing for a dive where the beer comes ice cold and drunk old coots howl along to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Little Bonanza is your spot. Even the elder Filipina barmaid, who shouts so artfully that you’ll never be quite sure if she’s kicking you out or hitting on you, will sing along in perfect harmony.

“I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?”


  • Prices: about $5 per pint
  • Hours: Mon–Thu, noon–2 am; Fri–Sun, 10 am–2 am
  • Happy: Until 7 on weekdays
  • Capacity: 38
  • Food: Lots of Mexican takeout nearby
  • Cash only
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Little Bonanza — because life’s too short to live in the dark.
Little Bonanza — because life’s too short to live in the dark.
Place

Little Bonanza

940 Palm Avenue, San Diego

In an era when any jerk with a Wi-Fi connection can condemn every small business on Earth for no good reason, it speaks volumes to find a bar with zero Yelp reviews. No off-topic whiners. No defensive regulars. Nothing. By most modern metrics, Little Bonanza may not even exist.

But try telling that to the day-drinkers at this I.B. hole-in-the-wall, where a heavy-set dude drunkenly alludes to his biblical calling in life while a gentleman in a Hawaiian shirt feigns interest in the tirade.

“Everything cheap!” the Filipina barmaid shouts when I ask about happy hour as a super-frosty mug of Pacifico slides across the bar. A beer or two later, the chubby chaplain shifts his sermon, demanding of the younger barmaid, “Do you know Led Zeppelin? They’re one of the best bands on Earth!” He takes off to the juke to prove it but quickly shuffles back, declaring, “They don’t have it!”

I sense divine intervention may be at play (never blame the beer), so I pop in a few bucks and type “LE” on the screen and, sure enough, there’s Zeppelin. I freeze. I’m faced with the classic ethnographical conundrum. If I really wish to observe my barmates in their natural habitat — waxing theological, making vague attempts at courtship with the barmaids, and being stumped by what might be the most straightforward piece of technology in the building — then surely this sort of interference would throw everything out of stasis. To hell with it, I decide. Life is too short to live in the dark. “When the Levee Breaks” roars out of the jukebox and I pass off the rest of my credits to the parson.

All told, I don’t really know what to say about this place. It’s at once so drab (beer, wine, cash only) and captivating (see above) that, like the Yelpers who may have come before me, I’m left speechless. There’s not a whole lot to it, but if you ever have the longing for a dive where the beer comes ice cold and drunk old coots howl along to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Little Bonanza is your spot. Even the elder Filipina barmaid, who shouts so artfully that you’ll never be quite sure if she’s kicking you out or hitting on you, will sing along in perfect harmony.

“I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?”


  • Prices: about $5 per pint
  • Hours: Mon–Thu, noon–2 am; Fri–Sun, 10 am–2 am
  • Happy: Until 7 on weekdays
  • Capacity: 38
  • Food: Lots of Mexican takeout nearby
  • Cash only
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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