Girl, Put Your Records On…
Though we may advance technologically, society always seems to come back to the classics. Much like the joys of self-developing Polaroids and arcade pinball, vinyl records will always hold a special place in our hearts. Kick back and groove to the music at these San Diego spots spinning high-quality, quality-assured vinyls—whether paired with cocktails, coffee, tea or just a good time, they all offer the comforting, low-pressure feel the San Diego bar scene has been missing. Homebodies, rejoice: even though you’re technically out and about, you’ll feel right at home as you discover new sounds of every kind at these seven San Diego vinyl bars!
North Park’s Part Time Lover has an all-or-nothing approach. Spinning sets solely that are pure and accurate in playback, pair their sounds with stunning cocktails in their dimly lit space lined with comfortable sofas and ‘70s-style decor. Catch them spinning rare vinyl records every day from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m, with their built-in record shop selling until 10 p.m. Sound selectors are announced via Instagram, playing sounds from soulful, jazzy and funky to house, disco and boogie. Stop by for spins and discover their divine selection of cocktails and wide variety of Japanese whisky.
Location: North Park
A bit of a speakeasy, find the red On Air sign near Taco Stand in the alleyway, then open up to immerse yourself in the intimate experience that is Convoy Music Bar. Feel high-class underneath the gold-lined bar and cozy into your new throne on a green velvet stool as you’re introduced to new sounds on a custom Japanese sound system. Ask their bartender to point you in the right direction within their Japanese whisky selection, or try the sweeter Return to Saturn: a blend of Gin, rum, apricot liqueur, passion fruit Szechuan, pepper corn syrup, lemon and soda. Oh, and come fancy—their cocktail attire dress code is enforced.
Location: Kearny Mesa
There’s a new spin on the Banker’s Hill area at Books & Records, hosting an upscale, open-feel restaurant with live jazz bands every Friday and Saturday evening—and the finest vinyls spinning other nights. It won’t take a music whiz to notice their music-themed drink names, like the beet and mezcal mix in the Beet It, or the Purple Rain’s mix of Japanese whisky, ube and lemon. Check their live music lineup to catch your style of choice, or pop in any time for a homey meal and high-quality beverage. Need an end-of-the-week reward? RSVP for their new Sunday Supper Club, a fixed dinner experience complete with a specialty entree, sides and a dessert, with sounds from and similar to the day’s featured artist.
Location: Bankers Hill
Get back to the good ol’ days in the retro vibes of The Lobby Bar in The Lafayette Hotel, flooding you with stunning ambience the second you enter the newly remodeled space. Take a cushy seat under the glass atrium at the central bar and order one of their classic throwback cocktails like the Lafayette Fix: Jamaican rum, fino sherry, apricot, cassis, molasses and lemon. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m, catch live DJ sets spinning straight from their high-quality OJAS speakers happening select evenings—make a reservation or walk in at your leisure.
Location: North Park
Just down a set of stairs, past a mysterious lush green door lies a wonderland of sorts right in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Inspired by New York’s eclectic lounges, Vin de Syrah specializes in world-renowned wines and spirit-forward cocktails that are paired with cheeses and desserts for a high-end nightlife experience. Catch live vinyl-focused DJ sets happening every Friday night or RSVP for one of their various wine-tasting events—the Saturday tasting comes with hand-selected food pairings—or jump in with the late-night crowd any night you need a little boogie.
A listening bar first and a beverage bar second, Sound by the Sea brings the joy of music to the northern San Diego community in a thought-out space combining high-quality sounds with a diverse small-plate and beverage menu. Founded by musician and sound engineer Dominique Vanhecke, Sound by the Sea invites guests to enjoy curated sounds on their one-of-a-kind vintage sound system in their cozy, couch-lined space. Relax and discover tunes you never knew you needed put on by various DJs throughout the week, all specializing in their own unique style. Never heard of acid jazz? How about a Brazilian music night? Stop by whenever you need a little bass boost, and be sure to try their famed Dean Martini and snack on fresh Argentinian empanadas while you’re at it.
Nothing sets the tone for the day like a morning full of good coffee and an upbeat playlist. Hype up your morning routine with high-quality vinyls at Longplay HiFi. It’s San Diego’s newest high-fidelity listening club, where the sound is focused on preservation of quality for an original-recording playback. This minimalistic, Tokyo-style vinyl cafe is dedicated to the audiophile community—for those in the know, they even list their equipment stats on their site! Stop by Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to pair their sounds with a coffee, cocktail, glass of wine, sake beverage or whatever speaks to you. For a specialized experience, RSVP for their Sunday Omakase, a three-drink course and a sweet that’s paired with a vinyl analog soundtrack!
Location: Barrio Logan
Jaclyn is a sunshine chasing San Diego native with an extensive writing background. When she isn’t word-smithing, you can find her playing beach volleyball, skating the boardwalk, or on a rooftop enjoying a drink in the sunshine with her pals.