Déjà Vu, El Dorado Cocktail Lounge

Under new management, El Dorado in downtown San Diego’s East Village looks to return its sheen as a classic neighborhood bar
Downtown San Diego’s El Dorado has new life under the Pouring With Heart management company.

Fourteen years ago, I walked through the door of a then-reimagined El Dorado Cocktail Lounge. The East Village joint had all the earmarks of a classic neighborhood bar. Dark, but not seedy. Cool, but not pretentious. 

El Dorado was the kind of place other bartenders came to drink after shifts, to network and to catch up on industry buzz.  

Over the years, this cocktail lounge on Broadway near Tenth Avenue lost its place in the pantheon of industry bars. Now, it’s back for another round.

With a fresh shine on the floors and new management in place, El Dorado held a grand re-opening on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. Returning brought familiar feelings. If Jim Croce hadn’t already penned, “If I could save time in a bottle,” that’s how you’d described El Dorado. 

Re-opening night at El Dorado.

Chad Owen is the Director of Operations for Pouring With Heart, the company that runs Seven Grand in North Park and just acquired El Dorado. Pouring with Heart also runs bars in Denver and Austin, as well as 19 spots in Los Angeles. 

Owen oversees El Dorado, Seven Grand and four bars in L.A.

The University Heights resident started as a bartender in San Diego in 2012.

“Back then, El Dorado was a nexus point and a place we all looked up to,” Owen says.

It was created by founders/brothers Nathan, Marshall and Matthew Stanton and friend Ryan Kuntz. They’re now a part of the Pouring With Heart family. And much of the same staff at El Dorado has stayed on.

Prior to being acquired, and post-COVID, El Dorado was open just Friday and Saturday nights, hosting DJ-show events.

Owen knew El Dorado was and could be a classic neighborhood bar that fit the mold for Pouring With Heart holdings.

Pouring With Heart director of operations Chad Owen.

“Our company vision is to restore the nobility of service,” he says. “If you have a staff that takes care of each other and a management team that takes care of the staff–and everybody shows up to work every day–you can provide really good hospitality that extends to the customers in front of you.”

Owen says they didn’t have to do much to the space. 

“The bar is gorgeous,” he says. “High efficiency cocktail spaces. Layout is good. Lighting is great. Of course, we kept the giant stuffed buffalo over the jukebox. His name is Otis. He’s amazing.”

El Dorado is now open seven days a week, 365 days a year. From 4 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Happy Hour runs every day from 4 to 8 p.m., and features Old Fashioneds, Daiquiris and Miller High Life.

The casual cool interior of El Dorado.

For the next three months, El Dorado will do special parties on Sundays. Expect TV-style bartender competitions. And possibly a friendly arm-wrestling contest between Pouring With Heart security staff teams.

“We also want to be a good neighbor,” Owen says. “We’ll open the door at 4 p.m. A doorman will stand outside. We’ll take care of the sidewalk. Some bars can drag down a neighborhood. We want to elevate ours.”

He says the company model is the opposite of being a trendy bar that has a lifespan of about three years. 

“We want to be timeless,” Owen says. “We want to be around for 20, 50 or 80 years. We want to be around for a century if we can pull it off.” SDSun


This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top