Best Neighborhood Bar, Central OC - 2011
Sometimes, a bar is just a bar. It doesn't have to be a gastropub, it doesn't need to have décor, and it doesn't need to be upscale. Sometimes, strong drinks and a pretty bartender are all it takes. Add in some sports on the TV above the bar, crowd-sourced music (via a pay-by-the-song jukebox) and pool, and you've got the makings for a great dive bar. Swinging Door gets loud on the weekends, but it's filled with mostly locals; the crowd skews young, but drinkers of all ages show up, just like a neighborhood bar should be. Weekdays are more mellow; though there's no happy hour, the prices are cheap enough it shouldn't matter. And the bartenders are all scantily clad, which does mean it's pretty much wall-to-wall dudes, but this is no Hooters or Tilted Kilt with the fake smiles and the Valley Girl accents. It feels honest here. Pass us another giant PBR, please.