BALBOA BARS 1.Any of a number of dives on the Newport Beach peninsula populated by surfers, coots—both kinds—and bill collectors seeking Sid Soffer, most of whom will end up drunk on a bike. 2. Popular confection sold on the peninsula that should be topped with those little chocolate sprinkles—none of that butter brickle or peanuts or other stuff they use to top Balboa Bars. Especially popular with that one kind of coot. Most famously sold at Dad's Donuts. 318 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, (949) 673-8686.

BARHAM RANCHIt's said that the bandit Joaquin Murrieta used to sit atop Robber's Roost overlooking this triangle in the Orange hills, waiting for the stagecoaches to pass through what is now called Weir Park. True or not, were Murrieta alive today, he'd see the ranch hasn't changed at all: the land, the brush, the animals are all as Murrieta left them more than a century ago. Few other areas in the county can make that claim. A little more than 525 acres, the "ranch" is nothing more than steep hillsides and plunging canyons. All the sagebrush and lemonade-berry shrubs make for a great early morning hike. Study questions: 1. How has Barham Ranch managed to remain undeveloped? 2. Where will they put the Barnes & Noble? 3. Hey, do you hear bulldozers? Discuss. BAYSIDE CENTER Start your day at Java City, which features fresh-baked breads and pastries; gourmet brewed and whole-bean coffee; and sandwiches, soups and salads. For fine Italian cuisine, Sapori Ristorante is sure to satisfy your appetite for lunch or dinner. But if you're pressed for time, Pavilions Place offers prepackaged salads and a service deli for your convenience, or you can mosey over to the Bayside Restaurant. Bayside Drive & Jamboree Road, one block south of Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach. BAY THEATRE A Seal Beach landmark since its opening in 1946, the Bay is one of the last independently owned theaters in the region and a cinematic treasure. Sometimes the Bay is just a nice little arthouse, and there's nothing wrong with that. But every now and then, they kick out the jams and launch a series of butt-whuppin' classic films in conjunction with another series of silent films such as Buster Keaton's The Cameraman, often accompanied by a live organist pumping away at the Mighty Wurlitzer. 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. BEACH BOULEVARD COMPILATION One of the definitive OC punk records, up there with debuts from the Adolescents, TSOL and Social Distortion, featuring bands such as the Crowd, the Simpletones and Rik L. Rik. Who are they? Exactly. BENJIESTustin Avenue veers off slightly to the left as you approach 17th Street traveling south. Just ignore it. Keep going straight, and you'll end up in the parking lot of Benjies, where you should plan to stay a while. Even if OC were part of the Borscht Belt, Benjies would still be the only deli that mattered. The Formica-paneled confines of the original restaurant (which opened in the mid-'60s) are sure to find you considering your mealtime options longer than you anticipated. The menu's interminable offerings include more kosher items than the buffet cart at a Jackie Mason show. But you don't have to be Jewish! Somewhere among the menu's three dozen sandwiches, 16 full-course meals and practically infinite combinations thereof, even the goyim will spot something to nosh. Save room for the noodle kugel—just like Nana used to make! 1828 N. Tustin Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 541-6263. BERTOLINI'S Located at the Irvine Spectrum, Bertolini's has a vast selection of intense, rich, full-bodied and oaky red and white wines, including cabernet and blanc sauvignons, pinot noirs, and zinfandels from all around the world. The menu features a tantalizing array of Italian cuisine, from such traditional dishes as pizza, spaghetti and lasagna to more extravagant items such as the fazzoletto con funghl, a handkerchief of fresh pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese in wild mushroom sauce. For dessert, the gelati and sorbetti are made fresh daily . . . mmmm. 45 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 450-0600. BIG A SCORE BOARD Did you know that the huge triangular sign with the halo on top—you know, the one that sits alongside the 57 freeway . . . advertising the Stadium-Formerly-Known-As-Anaheim . . . yeah . . . that one—used to be located just over the left-field fence? Well, it did! It used to be the stadium scoreboard. Now it's just another electric billboard. Did you know . . . that the halo on top of the Big A still blinks when the Angels win—and when the nation is under attack? BIG FAT ROCKIN' BUM Huntington Beach is pretty much bum central during the hot months anyway—you got the Black-Clad Kickboxer, the Powdered-Sugar-Covered-Bikini-Girl-Chaser, the Drunk-And-Climbing-Into-Some-Family's-Minivan-er—but at the top of an already formidable crowd-pleasing pack is the Big Fat Rockin' Bum. He's a (obviously) rather stout fellow who belts out many a classic of rock & roll yesteryear while persistently following you all the way down the pier, and he's like your own personal soundtrack to summer. In the form of a large and probably sweaty bum! See also: David Crosby, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand BIONIC RECORDSOC's home-grown three-store mini-chain, made semifamous the world over when Dexter Holland wore Bionic T-shirts in mid-'90s Offspring videos. This is an aspiring young punk's paradise, the place to pick up that crusty band's arm patch or that sticker or T-shirt from a band that broke up before you were even born. Yeah, you could get the same swag at Hot Topic, but that wouldn't be as cool—and you wanna be cool, don't you? 5942 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 846-2585; 9549 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 828-4225; 2466 Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 536-1912.BLACKENED MUSHROOM AND TOFU NACHOSIs there anything worse than ordering nachos and finding a significant number of chips unslathered? No, there is not. Taco Loco's creation of sautťed mushrooms with cheese and tofu—yes, tofu!—topped by a chunky guacamole salsa is heavenly not just because of how it tastes but because you'll be hard-pressed to find a chip without goop on it. What comfort there is in knowing that each bite has been lovingly attended to. 640 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-1635. Study questions: 1. What Eastern European nation, best known for its cache of big-boned children, also produces the world's highest-grade goop? 2. Was Hitler's eastern campaign an effort to gain access to this goop? 3. If Hitler had had access to high-grade, weapons-quality goop, would World War II have turned out differently? BLACK ROOM, THE New York has its Sewer Crocks, Louisiana its Bog Creature, Scotland its Nessie. Now OC has its very own urban legend, and it's a big, bad, mean . . . um, sex shop? Supposedly housed in Irvine under a jewelry store and reached only by hidden elevator, the Black Room first came to our attention through a friend who heard it from a friend who claimed she had been there. We were intrigued. Now, we're not saying that we ended up canvassing every jewelry store in Irvine, or that after No. 42, we were able to find the damn place. Or that we walked into a backroom where a tattered poster may or may have not have declared "Beware of the Leopard." We are also not saying that an intercom asked us our business or that we replied, somewhat nervously, "We'd like to see the Black Room." Or that the entire room then suddenly started to descend, hidden doors opening onto a large space with shelves crammed full of dildos the size of small dogs, S&M gear, and a UFO-shaped thing labeled "The Plate." We are not saying that someone who looked remarkably like District Attorney Tony Rackauckas was trying on a cheerleader's uniform or that someone else who reminded us of Britney Spears but with bigger breasts was checking out something with tentacles and spikes, grunting as if she were Yoko Ono trapped in a blender with a rabid beaver. We are not saying that, upon leaving, a gentleman fashionably attired in a dark blue suit shook our hand and said, "You do know that secret places are secret for a reason." And we are certainly not saying we felt compelled to keep some silly unspoken pact. Then again, we're not saying we didn't. We're just not saying. . . . BLACK TIGER Dark, earthy, smoky coffee blend that packs a swift caffeinated wallop. Brought to Orange Countians thanks to Irvine-based coffeehouse chain Diedrich Coffee's 1999 acquisition of Portland-based coffeehouse chain Coffee People. Diedrich began roasting and locally distributing Coffee People's signature Black Tiger Coffee. Nothing against Diedrich's own fine blends, but hopefully, we'll someday get local access to Coffee People's Mindsweeper and Velvet Hammer, whose names alone perk us up. BLIMP HANGARS 1. Right now, they're the largest and most guano-saturated unsupported wooden structures on the planet. In blimpier days, they were home to a fleet of big gassy sacks of hot air. Now that distinction belongs to . . . well, where do we start? 2. Rumor is that one of them is going to become a museum soon, once they sweep out the bat droppings. But there's a certain stately glory to these big ol' dinosaurs—like the Spruce Goose, they just don't overbuild stuff like they used to. Off Redhill in Tustin. For further information on big gassy sacks of hot air, consult or any of a number of books written by Rush Limbaugh, Ayn Rand or thatEverything I Learned in Kindergarten guy.
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