Speakeasies were hidden bars during the Prohibition Era where men and women would illegally drink. The speakeasy essence is making a comeback in modern bars today! The ambiance, discreetness, and exclusivity attract millennials to these low-key locations, which ironically pushes these bars to rise in popularity. There are often lines to get in, and many require reservations for a coveted seat inside.
Nonetheless, we love the atmospheres of speakeasies and visit them quite often in San Diego! Here is a list of the ones we have visited.
The Noble Experiment
This is our favorite bar in San Diego! Secretly located in the back of a restaurant, the entrance is as discreet as it comes. You’ll find this bar by walking into The Neighborhood at the corner of 8th and G and heading towards the restrooms. To the left is the kitchen and to the right is a wall of stacked beer kegs. So how do you get into the bar? The wall of beer kegs! It is actually a fake structure. Push on right side and it will creek open where you’ll find a hostess who will seat you. Make reservations beforehand at NobleExperimentSD.com so you are guaranteed a seat. Note that you can only make reservations a week in advance, no further. This bar is tiny and can only fit 20-30 people. The hidden location has not restricted its rise in popularity. There is often a line to get in and those without reservations are oftentimes offered standing room only.
You’ll find a wall of gold skulls, mysterious portraits on the ceiling, and experienced mixologists here. Drinks are around $15 each. Yes, pricy, but these are the best drinks that we have ever had. We do not mind paying for the quality each and every time. We often end the night with a tab of over $100 in drinks. If nothing strikes you on their menu, try the Dealers Choice – you pick the liquor and either refreshing or direct flavors, and they will create something just for you. You can’t beat this place!
Another hidden gem in the Gaslamp District, this bar’s entrance is as good as the first’s. If you aren’t looking, you will easily miss it. Your best option is to GPS this bar and walk until you find it. Prohibition is located on 5th St in downtown San Diego, and the entrance is the door to a lawyer’s office (there is often a bouncer outside). Of course, you will not find offices once inside. Open the door to find a staircase leading downstairs. Dress code is important here: no shorts or flip-flops. We have friends who were turned away for inappropriate dress. This bar has live music each night of the week. We love the Wednesday night jazz/blues group! No reservations are required here, but they will pack the place so arrive early if you want any chance of seating. Drinks are great (although not as great as the Noble Experiment) and prices are the same. Cucumber water is available for any bar patrons, and the restrooms are very nice and clean. We would highly recommend! We usually have a few cocktails here to end the night.