Best of OC

Best Of 2008

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Bars & Clubs

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Place to Watch a Sunset
Barefoot Bar at Duke's Huntington Beach

The trick is to arrive early enough to find a parking space (if you don't take advantage of the valet service), but late enough that you'll slurp up cheap eats and swill jungle juice. An entrée on the restaurant side can set you back $30, but during happy hour (or, more accurately, "Duke's Aloha Hour") from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. weeknights, the Barefoot Bar slashes food and drink prices. Fish tacos are $2.25, and margaritas are $3 on Tuesdays from 4 to 10 p.m., while Maui Mai Tai Punch and Tropical Itch cocktails are $4 all night on Fridays. Your mass consumption will leave you well-primed for the free dinner show: another magnificent Southern California sunset. But the orange, yellow, blue and purple sky as the sun seemingly dips into the Pacific isn't the only sight you'll want to toast. Your field of vision—or double vision, depending on how long you've been stuck to the barstool—takes in strapping surfers catching waves, teeny-weeny-bikinied babes lounging on the sand, and people of all shapes, dispositions and nationalities ambling along the pier. A final enticement: The staff at Duke's, named after the father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, is known for keeping the aloha spirit alive, but management tends to deposit the most welcoming workers in the Barefoot Bar. Party on, Garth.

317 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 92648
MAP
714-374-6446
Best Dive Bar
Fern's Cocktails

The slummiest of slums, Fern's is a dive bar for the punk-rock crowd. The tatted—yet gorgeous—bartenders in this dark, dreary spot won't take any shit, but they will pour you a massive Pabst on tap. Keeping with the scuzzy awesomeness of this place, the bands who play are all of the same genre: loud, terrible and no one you've ever heard of before. Fern's décor is standard: Aside from the pool tables and sticky high-top tables, the most visually interesting elements are painted on the walls. Our favorite is the nude satyr woman with the phrase "I Fuckin' Did It!" scrawled above her lashing tongue and frosty pint of beer. Warning: The flavored-condom machine in the women's restroom (which is painted highlighter pink) will totally eat your money.

1253 E. Fourth St., Long Beach, 90802
MAP
562-436-6694
Best Neighborhood Bar/Coastal OC
Mutt Lynchs

Located steps from the sand in beautiful Newport Beach, Mutt Lynchs is a local bar and restaurant known both for its bomb breakfast and extensive beer selection, the latter of which is served in 32-ounce schooners (remember your wrist brace—they're heavy). Sit down at one of the old wooden tables carved with the initials of past patrons and stare out the windows at the blue waters of the Pacific while being served by the cute waitstaff. It's a Southern California bar with classic beach style. It's the perfect location for a drunken Sunday, Sunday brunch, or both (if you get down like that).

2300 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, 92663
MAP
949-675-1556
Best Neighborhood Bar/North OC

This joint has all of the elements that make a great neighborhood bar. Heavy pours, reasonable prices, pool tables, a smoking patio, a jukebox and some TVs. It's dim enough that you don't have to worry about that nasty forehead zit. It's large enough to handle a decent-sized crowd of your friends for when your significant other dumps you and you just can't be alone that night. It has plenty of parking, and it's close to some fast-food restaurants. It's also near the freeway, so your designated driver doesn't have to spend any more time in the car with your drunk ass than necessary. Sure, there's no burly doorman to assess your wardrobe. There's no bathroom attendant to dry your hands. And we can almost guarantee that Paris Hilton won't show up when you're there. Oh, wait, these aren't drawbacks at all.

Best Neighborhood Bar/South OC
Patsy's Irish Pub

While bright-green shamrocks on the walls and traditional Irish appetizers may not scream "ideal place to hang out," Patsy's Irish Pub in Laguna Niguel is just that. Not to be confused with its more rustic counterpart in Mission Viejo, this cozy little public house really is a great place to kick back with some friends on a Friday night. The Irish theme is there (shamrocks, brightly lit green-neon signs, Emerald Isle faves on the menu), but this bar does it so tastefully that the clichés fade into the background—especially once you've had a drink or two. For $5, you get a great selection of beer, a welcoming atmosphere and the warm feeling of comfort that only comes when alcohol is mixed with Irish hospitality.

28971 Golden Lantern, Laguna Niguel, 92677
MAP
949-249-2604
Best Neighborhood Bar/Central OC
Proof Bar

Though this venue opened just last year, the place has already earned quite a reputation as one of most happening bars in the county. Located in the Artists Village of up-and-coming Santa Ana, Proof caters not only to the county's hipsters, but also to the plain ol' cats as well. Depending on the night, you can hear any of a variety of musical flavors being spun by featured DJs. While getting your groove on to those rockin' tunes and sipping your vodka tonic, you might as well ogle the bare-breasted artwork that adorns the otherwise-spare, industrial-looking walls. Don't fret, gals, there's something for you there, too—the ladies' room proudly displays pictures of male packages tightly wrapped in denim. Whew! Is it getting hot in here, or is it just us? Good thing you can head out to the brickwork back patio to chill out.

215 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, 92701
MAP
714-953-2660
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Best Place to Watch a Sunset: Barefoot Bar at Duke's Huntington Beach

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