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Mike Conleys' Best Orange County 2007 - 7 Favorite Things

Mike Conley cut his teeth on the OC punk scene of the late '70s and early '80s as a member of M.I.A., a band whose lasting legacy is probably the song "Boredom Is the Reason" (available on iTunes!). Conley witnessed a lot of crazy shit back in the day, as did anyone who hung out at iconic Costa Mesa punk mecca the Cuckoo's Nest.

"I once saw four young lads kick a hole right through the side of the building to avoid paying the cover. My friend and I had to join in—after all, TSOL was going on, and we only had 2 bucks between us. It was the punk thing to do."

The 30-year Costa Mesa resident has grown up a bit since then, having surrendered himself to the once-unthinkable (for a punk, anyway): suburban domesticity, responsible parenting and proud entrepreneurship—he owns Costa Mesa nightlife hotspot the Avalon Bar (820 W. 19th St., 949-515-4650).

His seven favorite things about living in Orange County?

1. The Japanese Motors:"Since I love all things good and rock & roll, let's start with Alex Knost and his band, the Japanese Motors. They're really amazing and play very cool stuff, kind of like early Richard Hell meets Wire, with a hint of the Rolling Stones. Definitely worth checking out, and they have a new record that should be out any minute." www.myspace.com/thejapanesemotors.

2. RVCA Clothing: "If I'm not out thrift-store shopping and making my own cool threads, my favorite clothing company (next to Paul Frank Industries) would have to be RVCA. I really think they're on top of it. Pat Tenore and his crew have a great artist network as well. Perseverance does pay off, and these guys are proof." www.rvcaclothing.com.

3. Hell On Wheels: "My friends and I love to ride old Triumph motorcycles. There's nothing better than doing wheelies down PCH on a Sunday afternoon past those bicycle-racing guys in those tight-pant things they wear. So if you're burnt on the whole Harley tassel thing or the 'weird bicycle guy' look and searching for a little something more, give Meatball of Hell On Wheels a call. He can always help you find a classic Triumph or BSA motorcycle or fix the one you have." (714) 563-2418; www.hellonwheelsmc.com.

4. eVocal: "If you're looking for a really cool retail boutique, you have to check out the eVocal store. They bring art, modern furniture, clothing, accessories and some really great events to westside Costa Mesa. A very unique vibe, and the folks are friendly as well." 814 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-4548; www.myspace.com/evocal.

5. Rooster Cafe: "My favorite breakfast spot is Jack Flynn's Rooster Cafe, next to my favorite bar, the Tin Lizzie. Jack and family have done a great job here with a very simple menu and great service. Fridays and Saturdays, they're open till 3 a.m. Try my favorite item on the menu: Lucky's Morning Wood Special." 750 Saint Clair St., Costa Mesa, (714) 754-1944.

6. Habana: "There are no shortages of great restaurants in Orange County, but my favorite resides in Costa Mesa's Lab anti-mall. Habana is a great place to meet for an awesome meal. The staff is excellent, and the manager, Jerry Aschoff, is always on hand to greet you and guide you through their eclectic wine selections. I'd classify the cuisine as Latin with a Caribbean/Cuban flare, and it's straight-up amazing. The vibe is warm and comfortable, with great music and classic movies projected on the walls." 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-0176; www.restauranthabana.com.

7. Detroit Bar: "I've seen so many great shows at this spot! The Blues Explosion, Modest Mouse, Stereolab, the Hold Steady . . . the last one was the Growlers. The place was packed on a Monday night, and the band rocked. Do yourself a favor and check out what's happening on the west side of Costa Mesa." 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com.

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