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The Lobbyists

San Diego boasts a bevy of hotels, and we’re picking our fave lobbies and hotel bars to meet and mingle.

The bar at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

After a chic remodel, The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe (theinnatrsf.com) has become a favorite amongst locals thanks to the firelit bar and rustic-chic lobby. The locavore wine program features wine makers who live in Rancho Santa Fe (Duckhorn, Mirror). At the Morada bar, order the local fave, the classic Royce Salad, featuring bacon and butter lettuce, and you can’t go wrong with the chorizo flatbread. Oh and come evening, twinkly chandeliers deliver the romance.

On the Ranch topic, we can't get enough of the Pony Room at Rancho Valencia (ranchovalencia.com). Sit on the veranda near the fireplace or inside on the custom leather chairs. The wine list is extensive, the margaritas totally legit, and the bar menu features keepers like Maine lobster sliders and the carne asada tacos. Go at sunset for ideal hotair balloon viewing. Up, up and away!

Anyone who has been to the Grant Grill at the US Grant (usgrant.net) and had one of Jeff Josenhans’ cocktails will surely make regular visits to see what the award-winning mixologist comes up with for the rotating menu of seasonal quaffs. Just take his Centennial Manhattan made with house-aged whisky and bitters, and the apple martini gets an image makeover with fresh Granny Smith and Casa Noble Blanco. For nibbles: crispy duck egg and a cheddar biscuits with fried chicken that will surely soak up the booze.

Speaking of fave mixologists, we have a serious crush on Nate Howell, a Chicago expat who has happily fallen in love with San Diego. And how could he not, what with the ocean view and instragram sunsets from his perch at the bar at Cusp at Hotel La Jolla (cusprestaurant.com)? His fresh, seasonal drinks are approachable—and cheeky. There’s the Office with a View made with pisco and fresh watermelon, and the now famous Ron Burgundy, made with Grouse and fresh grapefruit with a humungo ice cube. The yellowtail with quinoa is perfect for the La Jolla ladies, but we’re going for the sweet and spicy bacon.

Up the hill, look no further than the Pink Lady, La Valencia, which is undergoing a remodel (lavalencia.com). While we’re excited to see the new Café la Rue (still undergoing a redesign), we’re always up for the classic lounge at La Sala, with its cozy settees and ocean view. Wine lovers: you have arrived. The list is full of surprises (Riesling) and stalwarts (Sancerre). For cocktails, it’s all about the Dark and Stormy. Oh, and the charcuterie platter is calling your name…