10 Best Sports Bars in San Diego for Game Days
San Diego doesn’t have a huge fan base when it comes to its own local teams. With the Chargers gone, the pressure is on baseball with the Padres and the region’s NCAA basketball teams to bring in the excitement throughout the year.
That doesn’t mean San Diego isn’t a sports town, though. There are transplants here from all over the country, even the world, clamoring for the best sports bars in San Diego to head to on game days.
From football Sundays to big international soccer tournaments, these San Diego sports bars offer everything you need for that big game: delicious food, plentiful drinks, and access to big TV screens.
Dirty Birds is known for its wings, a quintessential snack on game days. Choose from 37 different flavors, from classic buffalo sauce to more quirky offerings like apple bourbon chipotle. Expect at least a dozen beers on tap at any given moment as you find the best seat.
You shouldn't have much trouble with that, by the way. Every location has about a dozen TVs streaming the day’s sports offerings. On big game days, expect food and drink specials. Their most popular night is Mondays, when you can have all-you-can-eat wings for $18.95 after 6pm.
Dirty Birds has several locations throughout San Diego. Head to Pacific Beach, College Area, Ocean Beach, Liberty Station, or La Jolla in the heart of the UCSD Campus for similar experiences and all those wings.
Princess Pub & Grille
This British pub may seem a little out of place in Little Italy, surrounded by Italian eateries and some of San Diego’s best scenes for wine and dining. That only makes the Princess Pub & Grille more endearing, and especially popular on NFL Sundays and Monday nights.
The food here is solid pub food, with breakfast burritos one of their best offerings on Sunday mornings. While the vibes are modeled after British pubs, the loyalties here are for Chicago.
This is a Bears bar whenever the Chicago football team is playing. When it’s not, catch any of the major soccer tournaments here, with regular matches played here on one of 10 big-screen TVs. To fully embrace the pub vibes, order a platter of fish and chips or their homemade sausage rolls, paired with one of their imported hard ciders.
True North Tavern
True North in North Park is popular among San Diego sports bars for its calendar of events. Themed bar nights, trivia, and artist workshops are all held here. On game days, though, the tavern turns into a haven for sports fans.
If you want to enjoy the sunshine, patio seating offers decent views of any of the 25 widescreen TVs playing here at any given time. Sundays and Monday nights are most popular during football season, so expect big crowds on those days if you’re heading over. That only adds to the excitement, though.
The food here is elevated pub food, and if you don’t see anything you want being poured out of one of their 30 taps, they have a menu of fancy cocktails for you to choose from, too. No one said you have to drink beer while watching sports.
Draft Republic is the San Diego sports bar offering from the Cohn Restaurant Group, the organization behind some of the city’s best eateries.
Both locations, in Carlsbad and La Jolla, offer epic sports-watching experiences. The La Jolla spot has a 100” projection screen that makes game days feel like a night at the movies. The Carlsbad location has over 50 flatscreen televisions playing at any given moment.
The food at both is of the gastropub variety, so you can bet your appetizers will be a little bit fancier than at the neighborhood pub. The buffalo chicken lollipops and their “sheet ton” of nachos are particularly popular. They’re up to 38 beers on tap, too, so you’ll have plenty to choose from on the drink side to suit any palate.
The Shakespeare Pub near Mission Hills is a British pub that prides itself on authenticity. It has been owned and operated by British expats since 1990, and has become the spot in the city to catch all of the biggest soccer matches.
Watch games from their patio deck or inside the pub, a bar that is all-in on British trinkets and memorabilia. This is the spot if you’re looking for British souvenirs while in San Diego, too.
The food you’ll find here is British comfort food, like shepherd’s pie, British breakfasts during morning matches, and their famous fish and chips. Their fish and chips have actually been named the best in San Diego for a number of years by various local publications, like City Beat.
Wonderland Ocean Pub
If you’re meeting friends here for the big game and you’re just not big of a sports fan, Wonderland Ocean Pub may be the best San Diego sports bar for you. The views here of surrounding Ocean Beach are some of the best you’ll get in the neighborhood and are an easy distraction if you’re not that into the game that day.
If you are, though, Wonderland is perfect for sports fans. Head to the side bar if you’re looking for a more raucous environment and know you’re going to want to cheer and jeer. They run a rotating series of games depending on what’s on that day, but you can also politely ask the bartenders to change the channel if what you’re here for isn’t already on.
The food here is delicious, too, and as a nod to the ocean, you can watch sunsets over from here. With food from the same owners behind Blue Water Seafood in Mission Hills, expect fresh oysters, fish tacos, and platters of whatever the catch of the day is during your visit.
The Rabbit Hole
On top of being the place in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood for niche live music acts, comedy, and theme nights, The Rabbit Hole hosts all of the biggest events in the sports world. You’ll find everything from UFC championships to international soccer tournaments here, along with your regularly-scheduled football programming depending on the season.
The food is a little more creative than most standard sports bar fare. Treat yourself to panko-crusted cheese curds, buffalo hummus, or their funnel cake fries for dessert to taste it for yourself.
The Rabbit Hole’s big patio space makes it one of the most fun bars in San Diego even if you’re not here to watch sports. They have giant versions set up of all of your favorite games from your childhood for you to play while you sip on one of their inventive house cocktails.
Photo Credit: The Rabbit Hole / Facebook
Bub’s @ the Ballpark
Bub’s @ the Ballpark is one of San Diego’s classic sports bars. It may not look like much from the outside, but shove your way in and you’ll find 25 television screens streaming whatever you’re after. They have it all: NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, and college games, depending on what’s scheduled that day.
The most passionate fans, though, are here for the Padres, as you’ll be right next door to Petco Park at Bub’s. That makes this place extremely popular when the Padres are playing, although it does loosen up a bit once games start and fans head to the stadium.
The food is classic sports bar food. Expect baskets of tots and fries, burgers and wings. There’s a second location in Pacific Beach called Bub’s @ the Beach, but it just doesn’t get better than a sports bar right next to a ballpark. It’s what makes the ballpark location one of the best downtown San Diego sports bars.
Home & Away
Old Town may not be the obvious choice when hunting down sports bars in San Diego, but that’s probably just because you haven’t been to Home & Away just yet.
The sports bar and eatery is food-focused. You’ll have a menu full of the expected burgers, but also the more unexpected ceviche, wedge salads, and pulled pork sandwiches featuring meat that has been on their smoker for 12 hours. If you’re looking to kill some time during halftime, their large patio has all kinds of yard games set up for you to play, on top of arcade games inside the bar.
Home & Away has a second location up in Encinitas if you find yourself in North County. The sister location has become just as popular as a delicious place to go on game days.
Social Tap bills itself as a more modern sports bar, with food first and the interactive experience that is watching sports at a bar second. That doesn’t make it a bad sports bar, though. It makes it a great eatery where you can also watch all of the big games.
Social Tap’s location within steps of Petco Park makes this one a popular stop on days when the Padres are playing, as their outdoor patios give you views inside the park. Inside, you’ll find 27 big-screen TVs streaming the biggest events, including UFC fights.
There’s no shortage of sports bars in San Diego, but finding San Diego sports bars that boast delicious food, drinks and that sense of community you’re seeking isn’t as easy. We did the work to find those hidden gems so you don’t have to. Now head out there. You don’t want to miss that first whistle...or kickoff...or inning...
Written by Agnes Groonwald for Knockaround.