Looking for a downtown date night hot spot? Trying to impress the new beau? Or maybe you and your friends are just really thirsty for some good vino! Well here at IMI we enjoy a nice glass of wine (or two) after a lovely, productive day at the office too! We’ve put together a list of some of the coolest/newest/most romantic wine bars in downtown. If you’ve never been to these little gems before – and even if you have – we’ve got some insider info that’ll make your next visit all the more special. Read on to learn a little bit about our favorite downtown San Diego wine spots!
Located just on the outskirts of downtown in Golden Hill Counterpoint is a little Urban Tavern nestled into a new, artsy building at 830 25th Street, #100. This funky, intimate space is fondly referred to by locals as their “neighborhood beer and wine bar” but it also boasts a yummy craft food menu of light eats as well as artisan cheese and cured meat selections. The menu changes pretty regularly so there’s always something new to try!
Something else that changes a lot here, is the art on the walls. Counterpoint displays the artwork of local artists in a rotating fashion. Every time a new artist’s work comes in for its time up on the walls, a portion of the opening night’s bar and food proceeds is donated to the artist or a charity of the artist’s choice. So even if you are not interested in buying a piece of art, this is a great way to support local art and artists – by eating and drinking some goodies. What a great way to donate! More info about current events and menu items can be found on their website.
Toast Enoteca & Cucina
Toast Enoteca & Cucina is a newer wine bar located in East Village at 927 J Street – just a block away from PETCO Park. One of the coolest things about Toast is their state-of-the-art Enomatic wine dispensing machines. These machines make it possible for patrons to experience a variety of prestigious wines from all over the world at reasonable prices. On any given day there are around 400 different wines available for tasting or purchase. When the weather’s nice (so, every day in San Diego) it’s absolutely awesome to taste test a flight of hard-to-find wines while people watching out on their large J Street patio!
In addition to the exceptional wine selection, Toast also features a full, authentic Italian lunch and dinner menu. Awesome traditional Italian dishes like antipastis, risottos, lasagnas and gelatos are complimented on the menu by some in-demand Italian spin offs like gluten-free pizza and gluten-free pasta options. All of the breads, pastas and pizza dough are handmade, in-house using imported Italian flour. There are great $8 lunch specials, happy hour items, wine tastings and more listed on their website.
Vin De Syrah Spirit & Wine Parlor
Syrah is one of the most unique wine bars that we’ve ever seen. It’s got an Alice in Wonderland theme complete with a long, gorgeous wooden Mad Hatter’s table, oversized “floating” lily pads, stone and moss covered walls and hidden doors. The entrance is actually located underneath the Melting Pot on the corner of 5th and E – you have to go downstairs from the street outside. When you get down that flight of stairs you’ll find yourself in a room with moss covered walls. It’s designed to look like you just fell down a rabbit hole and the door to get inside the bar is hidden in the moss. As you search for the door, keep in mind that there are cameras watching you fumble through the moss and that the people inside can see your progress. (This will be quite amusing for you to watch from inside too once you’re in!)
Upon finding your way inside you’ll have tons of choices on where to sit. There are private, high backed booths, a bunch of little alcoves for group seating as well as tables and comfy chairs facing every which way. You’re sure to find a favorite spot to enjoy your evening. In addition to wine, Syrah has a full bar with delicious specialty cocktails, brewskis and a kitchen that serves charcuterie boards, appetizers, paninis and desserts. Details on happy hours, wine dinners, private wine tastings, special events and more can be found on their website.
Hint – The door to get through the moss is to the left when you walk down the stairs!
Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room
Not a wine-o you say? You just like the bubbly? Well we like that too, and look what we’ve stumbled upon! This place is brand spankin’ new. And when we say brand spankin’ new we mean not even a month old yet! You’ll find it on the corner of 6th and F, right downtown. Encore prides itself in its selection of champagnes by the glass – something that is pretty hard to find around here in much abundance. They have 30 champagnes and sparkling wines to try by the glass and over 100 by the bottle to enjoy. There is also a plethora of craftily contrived sparkling cocktails. One of our personal favorites – the Champagne Lemongrass Mojito is absolutely worth popping by for.
They’re open for brunch and feature an extensive menu ranging from raw seafood choices like caviar and oysters to daily soups, salads and sandwiches. With impressive and delicious choices for all of the other meals of the day also, you might just stay long enough to roll through lunch, happy hour, dinner and dessert!