Best Place to Congregate and Smoke - 2011
817 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832
Remember that monumental coffeehouse explosion in the 1990s? Though the era of Nirvana witnessed big-box coffee brewers making their march toward global domination, there was plenty of competition from smaller mom-and-pop operations. Indie spots such as Rock 'N Java and Gypsy Den offered patrons the quality of corporate coffee with the pre-Hipstamatic ambiance of an alternative-music venue. Though Starbucks' dominion is now near-total, there are still a few staunch hold-outs carrying the torch for indie connoisseurs. McClain's resides near downtown Fullerton in an early-20th-century craftsman home that was formerly a Rock 'N Java. Though it boasts lots of cool pluses—good-lookin' baristas, live music, walls adorned with the work of local artists—the operation's heart is the large patio between the front of the building and Harbor Boulevard. A prime socializing zone, here is where small clans of people huddle around large tables under powerful space heaters and play rummy or backgammon while sipping quality Joe or smoking bogies or the occasional Sherlock Holmes pipe. There is a communal spirit on that porch that fosters friendly interaction between total strangers. McClain's is open till the wee hours of the morning, making it a perfect stop for revelers leaving the downtown bar area in need of a caffeine pick-me-up before work. $