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Your Guide to the San Diego Speakeasy Scene

Bartender pouring a drink at a San Diego speakeasy.
by: Welk Resorts | November 8, 2018

San Diego has a vibrant nightlife, personable locals, and some of the world’s best locations for all things fun and hip. The restaurants and bars of San Diego feature a wide selection of local and international drinks. You can enjoy fine wines from Napa Valley, beer from local craft breweries, and hand-crafted cocktails. But if you’re looking for a unique break from modern clubs and lounges, take some time to explore the San Diego speakeasy scene.

Today’s speakeasies are inspired by the original covert establishments of the Prohibition Era. And for great atmosphere, modern speakeasies are often hidden within restaurants and shops like the originals. We’ve come up with this helpful list of some of the best bars in the San Diego speakeasy scene for you to go on a classy, vintage adventure.

Noble Experiment

San Diego Speakeasy: Noble Experiment

Photo by Sandiegoville

Start your San Diego speakeasy tour by heading into a restaurant called The Neighborhood in the historic Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego. But don’t bother with finding a seat. Instead, head straight for the bathroom. But there’s no need to worry! You won’t find the bar in the lavatory. Next to the bathroom door you’ll find a stack of kegs. This stack of kegs is truly a hidden door that will lead you to Noble Experiment, San Diego’s most popular speakeasy.

The style you’ll find inside has been described as a cross between French catacombs and a vampire’s hideout. You can take some time to enjoy the swanky surroundings while you sip on a cocktail crafted by expert bartenders.

Prohibition Lounge

Prohibition Lounge is another popular San Diego speakeasy that is located in the Gaslamp Quarter. This fun location is a laid back spot for people who want to travel back in time to the 1920s. After you enter the establishment through a covert entrance, you will be greeted with a calm atmosphere and decor reminiscent of the early years of the 20th century. And on Friday and Saturday, come prepared for a classy experience. The semi formal dress code is strictly enforced to add an extra bit of elegance to the evening.

Prohibition Lounge is also a popular venue for live music. Jazz and stirring vocals fill the air on busy nights. You can pair this good music with your drink of choice. Prohibition Lounge has skilled bartenders who offer a range of delicious seasonal, classic, and house cocktails. You can also enjoy craft beer and fine wine.

If you have an appetite, you may choose to enjoy a special dinner event. Prohibition Lounge’s Supper Club will give you the opportunity to enjoy handcrafted cocktails that are complemented with signature dishes made by the executive chef.

False Idol

The local speakeasies heavily influenced by the 1920s and 1930s offer fun experiences, but if you’re looking for a covert option that is very unique, it’s right around the corner at False Idol. This hotspot offers a one-of-a-kind experience that you’ll have a hard time finding in any other San Diego establishment.

False Idol is what you get when you combine the best features of a speakeasy and a tiki bar. The bar is hidden within Craft & Commerce gastropub in Little Italy. After you enter through a hidden entrance, you’ll find a well-designed bar that transports you to the tropics of Polynesia. Tiki expert Martin Cate describes the bar as a “completely escapist immersive environment.”

If you like the sweet combination of rum and fruit juice, this is the place for you. Skilled bartenders offer a minimum of 36 tropical handcrafted drinks on each night’s rotating menu.

101 Proof

Just a little north of San Diego, in nearby Oceanside, you can find a relaxing upscale speakeasy experience at 101 Proof. After passing through a covert entrance inside Urge Gastropub you’ll discover this establishment that simply exudes old school elegance and class. The dark leather furniture and the dim lighting create an atmosphere that is perfect for relaxation and quiet conversation. Like other highly rated San Diego bars, 101 Proof specializes in a number of handcrafted cocktails.

Be advised: 101 Proof is not a place for rambunctious party animals. The bartender keeps crowds thin by limiting the bar’s occupants to the number of available seats and you’re not allowed to stay longer than two hours. During your visit, though, you can appreciate an easy, chic outing here, dressing up to the semi-formal dress code. The inside of this speakeasy also offers an intimate but private atmosphere, with no photos or cell phone conversations allowed.

Vin de Syrah

San Diego Speakeasy: Vin de Syrah

Photo by SDCM

Vin de Syrah is a lesser known speakeasy in San Diego, but its unique theme and great drinks make it worth mentioning. Vin de Syrah is a decorated in quirky fashion that can remind you of Alice in Wonderland…but with a twist. It’s an adventure to notice all the details in these fun surroundings as you sip on custom cocktails and California wines.

Vin de Syrah’s bartenders offer seasonal cocktails that use local ingredients or you can choose from over 100 bottles of wines from Napa Valley and major wineries across the globe. You can also pair your drinks with options from the small plates menu. The menu is seasonal, but you can usually find a selection of charcuterie boards and bruschetta plates to add some savory to this sweet destination.


If you want to spend your night enjoying good drinks and unique atmospheres at San Diego’s speakeasies, you’ll need a place to call home while you explore. Consider booking a room at Welk Resorts San Diego for a comfortable, private place to rest during your adventures.

 

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