If University Heights’ quaint restaurants, quirky coffee shops and colorful storefronts constitute the heart of Adams Avenue, then its thorough selection of bars and watering holes surely constitute its liver. But while many of the drinkeries in University Heights carry the same hipster vibe resonant throughout the rest of the community, the Air Conditioned Lounge represents a flavor foreign to the vibrant neighborhood: a whole lot of dancing and good music.
When entering the doors of AC Lounge, one thing becomes immediately clear. The bar is much more like a small downtown nightclub than a lounge, complete with live rap and dubstep. Just like most downtown bars, the heavy wub wub wub’s and heavy bass make conversation with the bartender, friends or potential hook-up damn near impossible. Though AC Lounge may not be the best venue for those trying to get to know each other, those looking to get a good buzz going shouldn’t fret. The bartenders at AC Lounge are noticeably experienced and quick; don’t expect to wait more than a minute or two for drinks, even for more complicated cocktails.
Contrary to its downtown counterparts, AC Lounge is easy to find free parking for and centrally located. Though the area around the lounge lacks a trolley stop, bus stops are prevalent in the neighborhood and taxi rides to any part of San Diego shouldn’t cost more than $25.
Similar to how the “lounge” aspect is a bit misleading, so too is the “air conditioned” aspect. A not-so-air conditioned bar with dozens of warm, drunk bodies and thick, Degobah-like artificial fog, there’s a definite mugginess to the air of AC Lounge. Those not so confident with their dance moves might count this as more of a blessing than a mark against the venue; for others, the high school haunted house level of fog might prove to be a bit irritating.
Still, there are definitely a few good reasons for Air Conditioned Lounge’s popularity. The bar is famed for its remarkable array of local disc jockeys and artists, ensuring consistent, though not exceptionally diverse, entertainment, even for the random passerby. And its list of beers and cocktails isn’t anything to sniff at either: AC Lounge has more than 60 in-house beers, many from local breweries. It also hosts daily drink specials, perfect for those looking to get their feet moving and grooving without packing too much of a punch on one’s wallet.
For those looking to get the downtown flavor without the downtown inconvenience, the AC Lounge is perfect. Otherwise, this bar might be worth passing up in favor of University Heights’ famed drinking hotspots.