Goodness gracious, Great Balls of Fire!
For those who want to relive that iconic moment from the iconic first Top Gun movie, you can do it at Kansas City Barbeque, San Diego’s famous Top Gun bar.
This is not the bar featured in Top Gun: Maverick. That’s the I Bar on Coronado’s North Island Naval Air Base and is off limits to use mere civilians. The part about ringing the bell and buying everyone a round of drinks is true, if you put your cell phone on the bar or talk or text on it.
Rather it is located at Kettner Blvd., and Harbor Drive across from Seaport Village and adjacent to downtown, the convention center and the Gaslamp Quarter. It is open to the public and gets curious Top Gun movie fans as well as visitors in town for conventions and corporate meetings.
And yes, Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Meg Ryan and “Goose” (Anthony Edwards) sat, sang and drank.
You will recognize it the moment you walk into it. Actually, before, if you look to your left on the patio when going through the door because there is a cutout of Maverick and Charlie for photos.
The juke box and piano are inside and there are faded photos of the scene and filming is on a far wall on the other side of the bar area. One of the bartenders – who is a bit sarcastic in a funny kind of way will on occasion do a minute routine of the filming, which you can watch by playing the video in this post. There is also a pretty tasty Top Gun lager beer on tap. Sometimes, a Tom Cruise lookalike in flight suit and aviator sunglasses at the bar drinking that Top Gun lager.
The reason this bar was used is because the movie’s advance team could not convince any other bar in the area to close for three weeks. Crews had to rip out the wall facing the bar to make room for the cameras.
So what kind of bar is it? Well, the Top Gun bar is a dive bar. A total dive bar. There are dusty baseball-style hats and bras hanging from the ceiling. Military patches cover the walls and bumper stickers with clever and funny sayings are plastered on the coolers behind the bar.
In other words, don’t expect too much for this is not a fancy place.
Address: 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA