Bars & Clubs

  • 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… More >>
  • 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… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar/North OC

    2J's

    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… More >>
  • 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… More >>
  • 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… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar/Long Beach

    The Que Sera

    Long Beach's Que Sera is known for its strong drinks and friendly bartenders, its sweet laser-bathed dance floor, and its regular club nights: Sucka Free Sundays, Call Sick on Friday, Mannequin, Release the Bats and, of course, the legendary Goodfoot (which could pack a venue thrice the size of the Que). With an extraordinarily eclectic lineup of live acts to… More >>
  • Best Bar

    Detroit Bar - CLOSED

    Yes, it's more than a bar—it's a venue that books the best bands OC has to offer and amazing touring acts. But it still has that unassuming, pull-up-a-stool, whaddaya-have feel. You can kick back with friends and play pool in front of a fireplace and, of course, get wasted. Head in to groove to the live music or just lounge… More >>
  • Best Pub

    Branagan's

    For steady drinkers in Downtown Fullerton, Branagan's is the perfect place to bring out the Irish in ya. Wedged in the thick of trendy nightspots and frat-boy watering holes, Branagan's offers the quintessential comfort of a neighborhood bar, one that pays attention to the culture of the old country. It's nice to know that there's at least one place where… More >>
  • Best Bar to Get Thrown Out Of

    Continental Room

    With its awesome DJ nights and live music, this swanky, dimly lit bar in Fullerton (also the oldest drinking establishment in Orange County) makes it pretty easy to get schnockered. Getting too wasted, though, will get you a swift kick in the ass and an 86 for the night. However, being ushered out over the velvet rope in the front—especially… More >>
  • 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.… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch a Sunset and Listen to Live Reggae

    Mozambique

    The upper floor of Mozambique feels like the creaky, alluring edge of a ship bound for somewhere far from Orange County. Thick curtains, huge 360-degree windows and a small stage with a million-dollar sound system in the middle of it all make this a must-stop on a Sunday afternoon. It's the only place in the county that features live roots… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection

    Ye Olde Ship

    This fine pub made our list for Best Burger last year—Weekly staff are still arguing whether its kosher to even contemplate ordering the peppery Captain's Burger rather than fish and chips or black pudding at a British pub—but what really draws the crowd is the bar. Red-blooded, American Bud drinkers, be warned: Ye Olde Ship is not for you. The… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Memphis Cafe, Costa Mesa

    Southern food is one of the greatest cuisines on the planet. It's warm, comforting—there's a reason they call it "soul food." And during happy hour, you can pair some of this amazing food with something that may be even better for your well-being: a stiff cocktail. Lasting until 6:30 p.m., this verrry happy hour gives you time to get to… More >>
  • JT at Paul\'s Cocktails

    Best Bartender

    JT at Paul's Cocktails

    "Pitcher of Coors?" "Alabama Slammer?" Common phrases in a bar, sure. Only thing is they're not coming out of your mouth, but from the bartender because he friggin' remembered what you ordered last time. With precision and speed, JT knows how to get you drunk at the oh-so-lovable dive bar Paul's in the Orange Circle. But watch yourself: When he's… More >>
  • Best Tequila Sommelier

    Adriana 'La Tequilera' Leon

    Tequila has left its Mexican roots and become something of a gourmand obsession these past couple of years, with multinationals boasting añejo this, reposado that and a bunch of pinche Patron. There to guide you through the good, the bad and the rotgut is Adriana Leon, a Santa Ana gal who has the proper genealogical credentials (from Arandas, Jalisco, home to… More >>
  • Best Signature Cocktail

    The Brown Suga at Eva's Caribbean Kitchen

    What with all the spicy and jerk-encrusted deliciousness coming out of Eva's Caribbean Kitchen, it's only natural she would create a rum-based cocktail to complement her fine, fine dishes. And what a cocktail it is. Served in a martini glass, the Brown Suga (pronounced "shugga") is just as sweet as it sounds. Made with 12-year-old rum, sweet and sour and… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    The Rosa Rita at Taco Rosa

    Hibiscus flowers in a margarita? Yes, please. Combining Leyenda del Milagro silver tequila, Cointreau, and Taco Rosa's homemade sweet and sour, the Calderon brothers have created something magical: not too sweet or flowery, just delicious. The perfect cocktail to sip while relaxing on a patio, enjoying a temperate breeze and watching people flit through a busy shopping center.… More >>
  • Best Drink to Fuck You Up

    The Rosarito at the Chili Pepper

    The first sign this drink isn't for amateur beverage lovers? The Chili Pepper, a brightly colored Mexican restaurant that is home to this lethal concoction, limits customers to two each. People who have yet to experience the Rosarito may scoff—but see how you feel after downing one. Tipsy as all hell, that's how you'll feel. The secret is a massive… More >>
  • Lychee Martini at Star of Siam

    Best Martini

    Lychee Martini at Star of Siam

    Who says you have to order a Singha with your pad Thai? This may not be the best martini ever made—and you wouldn't dare sip it with a steak—but it is certainly the most simple: vodka and lychee juice, with an actual (de-shelled, of course) lychee fruit sitting in the bottom of your glass. On two research trips, the drink… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Big Shots Billiard Bar & Grill

    Even after developers transformed shopping centers along El Toro east of Interstate 5 into "The Arbor," Big Shots Billiard Bar & Grill remains unchanged. The pool bar still seems at home nestled next to El Toro Gourmet Meats in the classic "Big Red Barn" that houses both establishments. Judging by the bar's exterior, cowboy boots and Stetsons ought to be… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Drunk

    Crooner's Lounge at Azteca Mexican Restaurant

    Getting drunk is a funny thing. After that fourth margarita, you start to find things fascinating that you'd never really had much interest in before. Elvis memorabilia, for example. Mediocre Mexican food. The sound of your own voice. Your cute second cousin. Which is what makes Crooner's Lounge, the bar inside Azteca Mexican Restaurant, the choice of professional inebriates everywhere.… More >>
  • Best Gay/Lesbian Bar

    Pistons

    This place is everything most gay bars aren't, filled on any given night not with scrawny WeHo queens whose musical knowledge starts with Madonna and ends at Britney, but instead with big, beefy, often-tattooed dudes who look like they should be working security at punk-rock shows. Though the bar has been around since 1968 under one name or another, it… More >>
  • Best Rocker Bar

    The Juke Joint

    Every good rocker bar needs not only a steady stream of dudes clad in tight jeans and leather vests, but also a dose of the lovely rocker-chick aesthetic: a mix of 1950s girliness (red lipstick, very high heels, sky-high bouffants) and modern-day feminist rebel (select body piercings and fiery tattoos). The Juke Joint has both, all hanging out in a… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    Danny K's Café & Billiards

    The joint founded by world-class pocket-billiards player and respected tournament director Danny Kuykendall rests a short bank shot from a trailer park, light-industrial plants and bustling Main Street. But once you step through the double doors, you'll be hard pressed to come up with a reason to leave. The long bar in the middle of the rectangular establishment is a… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Kitsch

    If you've never been to Kitsch before, good luck trying to find it. Upon seeing nothing more than a door in a wall tucked inside a standard-issue Costa Mesa strip mall, one would never guess the swank awesomeness that lies behind that nondescript plank of wood. Plush black benches and overstuffed chairs offset the red lighting and rotating assortment of… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Alex's Bar

    With its giant interior, cheap drinks, stacked jukebox, free Barbecue Sundays and photo booth, Alex's wouldn't really need much more to qualify it as an excellent bar. But what makes it the No. 1 rock club are the acts it books and the positive vibe it maintains. Thanks to its reputation as a standup joint that treats bands well (thanks… More >>
  • Best New Club

    Heat Ultra Lounge

    The latest venture in the OC nightlife boom, Heat Ultra Lounge is off to a rather-impressive start. In its first month, this swanky club has already scored both DJ AM and Steve Aoki. Although Anaheim's Garden Walk isn't the coolest location, it is next to the convention center, making for some great party opportunities, and once you get inside .… More >>
  • The Majestic

    Best Place to Hear the Sounds of Saigon

    The Majestic

    This venue isn't necessarily where you'll always find young, hip Vietnamese-Americans, but this can be the hot spot if you want to hear the sounds of modern-day (but mostly yesteryear) Vietnam. The moderate-sized nightclub—complete with a crystal disco ball above a dance floor—routinely packs crowds for well-done music variety shows as well as for legendary singers like the gorgeous Khanh… More >>
  • Best Place to Find a Steady Salsa Partner

    Tapas Bar and Restaurant

    It's unexpected: Way in the back of a small shopping center near John Wayne Airport is a Spanish restaurant which hosts one of the most feverish salsa parties in all of Orange County. Regulars come from all over the county to dance their tacones off to live salsa bands and DJs every Friday and Saturday night. If you get there… More >>
  • Best Place to Shag and Shuffle

    Promenade Dance Studio

    The next time you have a wedding to go to, save yourself some embarrassment and get dancing lessons before you hit the dance floor. (Remember, alcohol is not a performance enhancer.) Or, if it's your own wedding you're going to, Promenade Dance Studio can choreograph your momentous "first dance." (And if the idea of waltzing to Whitney Houston nauseates you,… More >>
  • Best Venue for Live Comedy

    The Improv, Brea

    Ever been in the front row of a comedy show? Remember sitting there, praying some guy with a mic and a cheap suit would overlook your crappy haircut or the fact you spilled your beer all over the front of your shirt again? Obviously, being the butt of a joke at a comedy show sucks. But it's hard to stay… More >>
  • Best Place to Party on a School Night

    Chain Reaction

    For more than a decade, Chain Reaction has seen its share of big names cross the stage—either scheduled and sold-out shows or surprise appearances. Now, Orange County's premier all-ages venue is the place to play if all your band members are still in high school. Hosting shows every night (except Mondays) means the kids have a good excuse not to… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    The Gaslamp Restaurant & Bar

    Hey, this is a recession! We don't have the money to pay a cover charge! Thus, the Gaslamp wins this year because it's that place to go and get your freak on for the love of dance. Aside from the waived cover, Gaslamp's dress code is relaxed and casual; some people finally realized how hard it is to break it… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Steamers Jazz Club and Café

    Jazz clubs—a dying breed—come and go faster than political smears. Live jazz demands intimacy, a reach-out-and-touch-the-performer proximity that complements the personal aspects of the music. And it goes down great with booze. Since 1994, Steamers has provided the up-close experience and great audio to boot. Owner Terence Love books the best musicians he can afford—and, on occasion, a few he… More >>
  • Best Venue for Live Music

    Samueli Theater

    Sure, it's in the opulent Orange County Performing Arts Center complex, but lately, it has been dipping its toes into the less-haughty waters of indie rock via the Off Center concert series. This has been a fortuitous turn of events (literally) for OC music-heads, bringing in renowned acts like YACHT, the Walkmen and Pinback, who might otherwise have skipped our… More >>
  • Best Unpredictable DJ

    DJ aDJective

    The turntablist also known as Costa Mesa resident Steve Fisch lugs several crates of vinyl as well as his laptop to his Thursday- and Friday-night DJ gigs at Kitsch Bar and his Saturday stint at Memphis Cafe in Santa Ana. Why so much music? Because Fisch believes you can never have too many tracks at your disposal. While he mostly… More >>
  • Scotty Coats

    Best Club DJ

    Scotty Coats

    Being one of the founders of Detroit Bar's Abstract Workshop would be more than enough to put a man in the running for this accolade. Abstract Workshop has established a foothold for innovative hip-hop in Orange County and remains one of Detroit's most popular nights. Add to this the fact that DJ Scotty Coats works for Costa Mesa's Ubiquity Records… More >>
  • Best Strip Joint

    Fritz That's Too

    Perfection is relative, but if you're the kind of person who likes strippers and lots of 'em, Fritz That's Too in Anaheim is as close to perfection as you're going to get. The Costco of strip clubs, Fritz offers cheap drinks in its two-story building, complete with a three-poled stage and multiple dancers working at any given moment. The girls… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up a One-Night Stand

    Foxfire

    When the sun goes down and the torch on the restaurant's roof is at full flame, the ravenous cougars who prowl the lounge go on the hunt for young, tasty morsels. Which is why the place draws a big Saturday-night crowd week after week. (It ain't just the cheap drinks and run-of-the-mill cover bands that are packing 'em in—well, the… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick up a Porn Star

    Hurricane's Bar & Grill

    When it comes to silicone-enhanced meat markets, there is no substitute for this Huntington Beach Main Street hangout. Hurricane's is the undisputed, alcohol-addled epicenter of Orange County's porn-star party scene. Of course, it's hard to tell the difference between the local, uh, talent and actual porn stars, but that's what we like to call a distinction without a difference. Occasionally… More >>
  • Best Undisclosed Location

    Riviera Adult Motel

    Bonin' is serious business. So serious that several businesses have actually popped up serving people looking to get serviced. No, seriously! The classiest of the genre is the Riviera Adult Motel in San Clemente. Since 1975, this local gem has catered to consenting adult couples looking to get busy with several theme rooms, large bathtubs, toys, complimentary adult movies and… More >>
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