Walk down the stairs from the Gaslamp district's busy 5th Ave. into Vin De Syrah (once you've discovered the hidden entry) and you feel like you've entered a different world. One based on an Alice in Wonderland theme, actually. This dimly-lit, whimsical wine bar envelops you in vine-covered walls, floating umbrellas, playing card-coated ceilings, and oversized plush booths that complement the after-work, locals crowd chilling out to Lana Del Rey/Ellie Goulding-ish mood music. You will always catch newbies to the place strolling and gazing around so as not to miss a single decor detail or a spot in line at the charcuterie bar. But don't let the impressive wine selection fool you. Come 10:30pm this place turns into a lively party scene with a young, dress-to-impress crowd inhabiting the dance floor. In true Vin De Syrah form though, the DJ and club vibe gets some occasional help from tarot card readers, magicians, and burlesque performers to maintain the playfulness for the unpretentious patrons.
Locals' tips: Happy Hour runs 4-8pm Tuesday-Friday with various $5 drink specials. Take advantage if you're hoping to hunker down in a comfy booth or avoid an entry line and crowded bar. The official dress code is business casual but, while many women come dressed to the nines, guys, just make sure you have some nice shoes on and a collared shirt or hip jacket. The pictures here will give you a hint on locating the hidden door but once inside, check out the monitor by the bar to watch other unsuspecting guests try to find it. As with all other party spots in the Gaslamp, Vin De Syrah does not have a parking lot of its own so plan to take the trolley (Gaslamp stop), a taxi, or pay $10-20/night for parking at any of the nearby lots. You'll find good "bites" like cheese and charcuterie boards but if you're looking for a hearty meal before all the partying, this is not the place. No cover charge.
More info at Vin De Syrah.
Hey Locals! Got any favorite unique, out-of-the-ordinary spots for cocktails in SD? Chime in below.