Barflies Are Going Out To The Bars & Restaurants On Fifth Ave.
A visitor from Los Angeles turned onto Fifth Ave., on a Saturday night in early March and stopped in her tracks.
Marveling at the scene in front of her – the sound of conversations and music filling up the air, tables full of patrons sitting outside and even lines at a couple of establishments – she said one word: “wow!”
At first glance, this main street in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter looked like something she might encounter in Florida or Texas. Certainly not California.
And while first appearances can be deceiving, it was obvious to anyone that the nightlife in the Gaslamp is beginning to show some life. The three blocks between F and Island streets were particularly lively, with more activity further down by the Gaslamp welcome sign that arches above the street.
Upon closer examination, it’s obvious that all of the socializing takes place with people seated at tables among fiends. There is almost no contact with strangers at any of the other tables. The downstairs lounges and clubs, which are a part of many of the bars along 5th, remain dark. And inside-only bars are still closed.
So it’s hardly the “meet and mingle” scene of normal times, but there is a definite buzz to the scene that suggests those days (or nights, really) may not be too far from returning in the near future.
You can just feel the Gaslamp is about to burst at the seams and get back to being one of the best nightlife scenes in California. A mini-Vegas, I call it.
It’s still not legal to go inside the bars and restaurants, tho some places with big, open windows seem to be skirting that issue by allowing a few people to sit at inside tables by the windows and even be socially-distanced at the bar and next to a glass partition.
I walked into one of those places to use the restroom and paused when I heard the club music and saw people sitting and drinking at the bar. It reminded me a bit of a pre-pandemic Saturday night, and that got me excited.
San Diego’s nightlife is not back just yet. But at least in the Gaslamp, it’s showing signs of life.