In March of last year, the Carlsbad City Council passed a new ordinance allowing places that serve food and alcohol to host live entertainment as well.
This ordinance was a huge step forward for arts and entertainment. It has opened the doors for multiple venues and performers within the community.
Before it passed, only venues that primarily serve food were permitted to have live entertainment. Now, performers may have the option to showcase their talents throughout the entire city. Prior to 2019, the city had not updated their live entertainment regulations since 2017. With the growing trend in solo artists, acoustic talent, and piano players, this comes as a welcome change for businesses in the Village and beyond. Here are some of the best lesser known places to see live talent in Carlsbad.
Hennessey’s has been a local favorite in downtown Carlsbad since its opening. Their authentic Irish fayre and American comfort food is a unique indulgence near the coast. The World’s Largest Pint with a souvenir glass transports guests from the beach to the lush green pastures of Ireland. Irish whiskey flows freely from the taps and dishes like shepherd's pie and traditional fish and chips are served hot and ready from the kitchen.
Aside from the Irish decor and comfort food, Hennessey’s is also home to some of the best live music around. Thursday through Saturday night, local bands light up the night with their sets. The patio has additional live music starting at 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Travelling Irish bands are also known to make an appearance and share the fiddle, flute, and tin whistle with audiences.
Boar Cross’n Bar
Boar Cross’n Bar is located right next to Spin Records. The bar has a long history full of fantastical tales that range from war stories about marines to exotic animals. Formerly Ralph and Eddies, the bar was created with the surrounding neighborhood in mind. According to the bartenders, spider monkeys, baboons, boa constrictors and racoons have all held a home at the bar over the years. According to stories passed down over the years, locals would stop by Ralph and Eddies to play cards, have a drink, and interact with the animals. The historical building is now open from Thursday to Sunday and still has the local vibe that Ralph and Eddie introduced to the neighborhood.
The bar is also home to some of San Diego’s most talented local bands. It attracts well known and lesser known artists from around the county. Scott Russo from Unwritten Law, Glue, and Eydea & Abilities have all made appearances. If you’re looking for a place to kick back, relax, and find a new band to love - then Boar Cross’n is your place.
Sometimes, when you grab hold of a good thing you don’t let it go. The Alley is a loveable dive bar that competes with dive bars anywhere. The small space is somewhere that, on first glance, might not be the place you’d imagine you’d end up at towards the end of the night. However, if you do, you might be pleasantly surprised. The bar is often packed to the brim with patrons looking to have a drink and dance the night away. Every Saturday night, a local band called The Rangers takes the stage. The weekly set is never a disappointment and keeps dancers going into the wee hours of the morning.
If you’re looking for good drinks and a good time, stop into The Alley for a nightcap.
Mas Fina Cantina
Southern California is home to some of the country’s best authentic Mexican food. Mas Fina Cantina is a neighborhood favorite for chilaquiles, carne asada burritos, and pollo borracho. The bar and grill is located right in the heart of Carlsbad Village. The food and drinks are served up in a laid-back atmosphere, with a full bar and specials for every day of the week.
The Cantina is also a prime spot to catch local music, open mic night, and karaoke. New ownership has transformed this old Italian bistro into a neighborhood hotspot. The patio is dog friendly and the live music can often be heard throughout the Village on weekend nights.
The city of Carlsbad has a diverse culture full of history. Showing support for local performers enriches the community. Grab some food and a drink at any of these neighborhood locations and you will get a real feel for the heart of the city.