San Diego’s Live Wire Has a Legendary Jukebox and Great Local IPA on Tap

From our Love Handles files on beer bars we love: This unfussy dive helped San Diego develop a palate for craft, and it remains one of the city’s must-visits.

Beth Demmon Feb 6, 2022 - 2 min read

San Diego’s Live Wire Has a Legendary Jukebox and Great Local IPA on Tap Primary Image

Photo: Joe Stange

San Diego

What it is: As one of the first bars in San Diego specifically dedicated to promoting craft beer, this quintessential dive has managed to mix a delightfully lowbrow aesthetic while offering a variety of sensational brews for almost 30 years. Situated in North Park—arguably the city’s best beer neighborhood—Live Wire helped spark the now-ubiquitous beer scene into the conflagration it is today, without ever falling prey to snobbery or sacrificing quality.

Why it’s great: There’s a reason Live Wire has remained a cult favorite after all these years. Owners Joe Austin and Sam Chammas (along with their more recently added partner Thaddeus Robles) promised to provide “cold beer, warm friends” since Day One, and they have yet to falter in either aspect. The dark, unassuming, and essentially windowless exterior disguises the treasures contained within: namely, 24 tap handles that rotate among classic craft options such as Russian River Blind Pig IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The jukebox is legendary. Take care not to get bamboozled by the sharks stationed at the pool table.

Hours: 5 p.m.–2 a.m., daily
Address: 2103 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, California