San Diego’s Hottest Neighborhoods: Gaslamp Quarter

Coava in the Gaslamp Quarter

Since way back in the 1860s (when the streets were lighted with 50 gas-powered lamps) this happening part of the city has been lit. Today, this 16-block area close to everything in downtown is a wonderful mishmash of historic Victorian architecture, the best of modern food and drink, and San Diego’s most vibrant nightlife. Here are some stops to hit in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Nason’s Beer Hall

Where: 570 J St
The average sports bar doesn’t have flights of jerky (lemon pepper pork, and honey sriracha pork to name two) to pair with its kimchi-topped double beef hot dogs or jidori chicken wings. Far from average, Nason’s is located in the stylish Pendry hotel, but the public is welcome to wander in to catch a game, $5 happy hour draft beers, live music (Fridays), and chill out on their dog-friendly patio (treats included).

Sparks Gallery

Where: 530 Sixth Ave
The work of strictly Southern California artists is displayed in this historic building that hosts art talks and other events. Built in 1887, this gorgeously renovated structure, a former vaudeville theater and hardware store, is worth seeing alone to get a taste of the Gaslamp’s days of yore. 

Coava Coffee

Where: 400 West Broadway
This Portland-based coffee roaster travels the world for single origin coffees; their website shows you where each comes from, right down to the altitude and how to pronounce those pesky Ethiopian and Honduran names. On Wednesdays at 11:00 AM, they host coffee tastings. Or drop by anytime for single origin drip and espresso with local baked goods.

Parq

Where: 615 Broadway
After hours on Friday and Saturday (occasional Thursdays and Sundays, too), the party jumps off right here at this restaurant-slash-nightclub decked out in vertical gardens featuring yucca. EDM, hip-hop and more pump until 2:00 PM. To get past the lengthy door line, avoid sportswear or sneakers; jeans okay, though. Pro tip: Spending more than $25 at the restaurant on food (drinks don’t count) nixes the $20-$30 cover.

Rooftop by STK

Where: 600 F St
Being downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter doesn’t have to mean being indoors. Not when you can lounge poolside on this rooftop deck. Look out over the Coronado Bridge, craft cocktail in hand. Stick around for weekend nights when the poolside vibes get ratcheted up as the space becomes an al fresco nightclub and lounge.

Prohibition

Where: 548 Fifth Ave
Behind the door labeled “Law Office” you won’t find Eddie O’Hare, Esq. but rather a hush-hush watering hole channeling times when everything (except getting a drink) was simpler. Make sure to wear your best pin-striped suit, fedora, and oxfords—or at least not baseball hats or flip-flops; house rules because they detract from the intoxicating fantasy of escaping into the past.

Coin-Op

Where: 789 6th Ave
No matter who prevails at Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Skee-ball, or 50 other arcade games, you can all partake of a menu of craft beer and cocktails and nosh on corn dog bites, chicken wings, and pizza.

Searsucker

Where: 611 5th Ave
New American cuisine like braised pork chops and shrimp with grits meld in a setting with an urban-farmhouse vibe. Every other Saturday they host the Notorious B.R.U.N.C.H., a boozy brunch set to the sounds of old school hip hop.

The Nolen

Where: 453 6th Ave
Fourteen floors above Petco Park and Coronado Bridge, bask in the sunshine or the night sky at this stylish outdoor bar and lounge. Fire features warm things up at night; a fun, firey way to end a perfect day exploring the Gaslamp Quarter.

Gaslamp Quarter Hot Spot Map