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Bars & Clubs

  • Best Place to Pick Up a One-Night Stand

    Sutra

    So you're looking to pick up some fine young thing for a little action—nothing serious, just a good time. Head over to Sutra, the glitzy club at Triangle Square where you'll find a bevy of pretty party people to choose from. The scene is very image-conscious—there's more silicone at Sutra than a Mattel production plant—and if you're serious about getting… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Meat Market

    Javier's, Crystal Cove

    Where do people of a refined age, well-established career and certain means go to find love (or a hot hook-up)? Javier's in Newport Beach's Crystal Cove. The coastal restaurant is decadently decorated, appealing to those of finer tastes, and boasts a giant, jungle-esque cantina complete with a fire pit, indoor greenery, and very expensive-looking seating and tables. The food is… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Date You Don't Want to Be Seen With

    Riviera Restaurant at the Fireside

    We've all done it: Before going out on a date, we've chanted that one request—"Please, God, don't let me run into anyone I know." The Riviera is dark—really dark—and the menu is way too fancy for any of your friends. In operation for more than 30 years, this classic restaurant and bar has all the romantic standards: steaks, seafood, champagne,… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up Drunk College Students

    Back Alley Bar & Grill

    While we can't comment on friends who may or may not have made brief eye contact with a pretty college-aged lass before the two adjourned to the sidewalk outside Back Alley's large smoking patio for a brief romp, we can say the informal, booze-fueled environment of the venerable watering hole is conducive to bringing strangers together. With Cal State Fullerton… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, North OC

    Xalos Bar

    Neighborhood bar? Transplanted community is more like it! The place where Xalos Bar makes its home was once "The Shack"—ground zero of one too many neo-Nazi shows, as the Weekly exposed 10 years ago. The times, demographics and venue have changed, however, and "Un Poco de Jalisco en el Corazon de Anaheim" is now the prevailing banner for the establishment… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, South OC

    Turk's

    Turk's is filled with the type of décor one might expect from a bar overlooking a harbor: fishing nets, ship's helm, giant ceramic fish. Some of the regulars live on their boats or work in the harbor; all prefer a bar where the drinks are stiff, the jukebox is always playing, and smelling like saltwater isn't grounds for dismissal. The… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central OC

    Swinging Door

    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… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Coastal OC

    Turc's

    Not many bars have fireplaces, but the ivy-covered Turc's in Sunset Beach boasts two—one large fireplace with seating in the main room, as well as a smaller one in the backroom. Besides keeping you warm during those cooler winter nights, Turc's also has two pool tables and two Megatouch game machines to keep the entertainment flowing in this cozy space.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Long Beach

    The Pike Restaurant & Bar

    There's no need for the Pike's dirty teal exteriors to convince you of its awesomeness. The place is so classically Long Beach and wears its dirty-punk-surf-rat aesthetic so well you can smell the pier water from the bar (even though the ocean is about half a mile away). And while the Pike has all the prerequisites of the perfect neighborhood… More >>
  • Best Bar In Orange County

    The Bootlegger Bar

    If you've ever tried to get an outside table at Crystal Cove's Beachcomber Café, with its unparalleled view of one of Southern California's last unspoiled stretches of coastline, you know there's a 45-minute (at least!) wait. Fortunately, there's a seat for you at the Bootlegger Bar, a tiki-style tavern tucked into the shady side of the café and connected to… More >>
  • Best Rooftop Bar

    Rooftop 360° at AVIA Hotel

    Bars in Southern California tend to be more waterfront than rooftop—which makes Long Beach's AVIA one to definitely check out. Its Rooftop 360° lounge is an upscale, swanky bar area with views of the coastal skyline as well as the Queen Mary. It looks very "summertime cabana," with its colorful chaise lounges and giant umbrellas, which is appropriate considering our… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    The Olive Pit

    For those who want to escape the visibility of regular dive bars, Orange's Olive Pit is for you. Turn off Lincoln Avenue, and head down a steep street; around the corner lies the most secluded dive in these here parts, nestled into the side of a concrete hill, hobbit-hole-like. At the Olive Pit, they have cheap beer, pool tables, arcade… More >>
  • Best Waterfront Bar

    Tantalum

    Tantalum is pure opulence. From the posh Indonesian-inspired décor (including a grand wall fountain at the entrance) to martinis with flowers floating in them, this waterfront bar stands high above the rest. While the dining section is lovely, the real star of Tantalum is the bar area, which features live music several nights a week that ranges from classic-rock covers… More >>
  • Best Pub

    Shin-Sen-Gumi Fountain Valley Robata & Yakitori Restaurant

    You might never get a loud, "NORM!!" greeting when you enter a bar, but at the Japanese pub Shin-Sen-Gumi, the entire staff welcomes you with the rousing sing-song "eera-shai-MASE!" the second you enter. Pubs in the Japanese sense are called izakaya—a house of sake—and like those of Britain, they're a place where you meet good friends to share good food,… More >>
  • Best Street for a Pub Crawl

    Main Street, Seal Beach

    The small stretch of land leading to the Seal Beach Pier has an excellent selection of bars to choose from. We like to start at one end and work our way down—the same way you would start with the most expensive bottle of wine and work your way to the cheapest. Begin the pub crawl at 320 Main for handmade,… More >>
  • Observation Bar & Art Deco Lounge

    Best Place to Buy a Ghost a Drink

    Observation Bar & Art Deco Lounge

    Only aboard the legendary Queen Mary can cocktails be sipped among the living and the dead. The notoriously haunted ship permanently resides in the Long Beach harbor and has become a historic hotel. It also happens to boast a lively bar that doesn't require you to be an overnight guest. The Observation Bar & Art Deco Lounge, with its 1930s… More >>
  • Best Karaoke Spot

    The Prospector

    It calls itself a steakhouse/bar/saloon/live venue, but that's probably just to keep Long Beach's best-kept secret—the Prospector's twice-a-week karaoke nights. Every Wednesday and Friday, regulars make the pilgrimage to this broken-in cowboy boot of a tavern to sing classics and deep cuts alike, making a night out feel like a family affair (amp up your performance level, and the whole… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    Danny K's Billiards & Sports Bar

    Stationed just a short drive from the Big A and Honda Center, Danny K's Billiards & Sports Bar is a green monster Angel fans need not fret over, especially come playoff time. The warehouse-sized establishment owned by Danny Kuykendall is long on pool tables and wide on HD flat-screens. Among the 33 televisions showing the sporting events of the day… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    Unzipped at Club Ripples

    While there's never a shortage of party places for gay men, finding a spot for lesbians is like trying to find a dental dam in a bag of party balloons—especially in OC. Perhaps it's because people still believe the old stereotypes that gay gals don't tip, or don't stay out very late, or don't pound drinks like their male peers—or… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Paradise Piano Bar

    Long Beach is full of places to grab a same-sex hookup. Obviously, there's Ripples, the notoriously naughty beachfront bar, as well as Hamburger Mary's and gay dives such as Sweetwater, the Falcon and Mineshaft. Those are all great if you're looking for only a cheap drink and a quickie—but if you want to actually take your sweetie on a date?… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar for Straight People

    Bounce

    Cozy, discreet and full of youth and fabulousness, Bounce draws a crowd that ranges from richest to poorest, from locals to tourists, from older to younger, from gay to straight. And they all jam to the rhythm of the DJs and karaoke-night hostess Peggy Perkins, who spice up the night and play the latest songs by artists such as Rihanna,… More >>
  • Best Venue for Live Comedy

    Irvine Improv

    Reportedly, the Irvine Improv gets better acts than its counterpart in Brea. So, you say sterile wasteland? We say blank canvas. The beauty of the Irvine Improv is that, given the paucity of things to do outside the Irvine Spectrum (where the Improv is located), you're so grateful you can come here for laughs that being at the Improv automatically… More >>
  • Best Improv Group

    Secret City Comics Society

    Though these up-and-coming comedians are just getting their feet onstage, the Secret City Comics Society (SCCS) still puts out a thoroughly entertaining show with a mixture of acts and games. Based in Fullerton, SCCS was founded by Alan Ng, a National Comedy Theatre performer with 15 years of experience. Feel free to take your family along for a creative night… More >>
  • Venetian Gentlemen\'s Club

    Best Strip Joint

    Venetian Gentlemen's Club

    We're not sure if this year-old gentlemen's club is the best topless joint in OC, but it's certainly the most novel: When's the last time you chomped on a California roll while a comely vixen writhed in front of you? Okay, maybe you party better than most, but that's an option at this clean, swanky spot that incorporates two of… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    Diamonds Billiard Club

    A simple bunch, table sharks don't require much beyond straight pool cues, plenty of tables to deal with high traffic, and a nice selection of libations. Diamonds Billiard Club provides these things, and then some, including faux-finished columns and leopard-print carpeting that loudly proclaim Las Vegas hotel kitsch. Located on a second-story floor overlooking Birch Street, this spot features 12… More >>
  • Best Bar/Club Night

    Mr. Mister Miyagi at Alex's Bar

    On the first Saturday of every month, punk-rock bar Alex's travels back to the '80s and turns into the most bitchen, totally awesome party in town. Loud music, dancing and stiff drinks are aplenty, but no DJ is necessary here—this 21-and-over club night goes straight to rock and pop with live music from Mr. Mister Miyagi, a full-scale band with… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    House of Big Fish & Ice Cold Beer

    Partake of this happy hour just once, and brace yourself for a daily struggle to not ditch work early. The fun times begin at 2:30 p.m. and last until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, which is unheard of these days. If you can make it there by 2:30 p.m., the items on the happy-hour menu are only $2.30. As each… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection

    SideDoor

    SideDoor doesn't keep hundreds of taps—this isn't an award for most numerous beer selection—but it does keep a well-curated, constantly rotating selection of great beers. At any given time, there are around a dozen beers on tap, ranging from funky Old Speckled Hen to dark Affligems that need to be nursed to a cast of characters from local OC brewers.… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Busch Beer in the Daytime

    Joe Jost's

    There are few watering holes west of the Mississippi older than Joe Jost's, which was founded in Long Beach in 1924 as a barber shop and pool hall. In 1934, after Prohibition's repeal, beer was introduced, and the barber chairs soon left. Since then, the bar has sold some 7 million pickled eggs, 15 million schooners of beer and 5… More >>
  • Best New Wine Bar

    Two 40 South

    The mark of a good wine bar is how well it brings people together and helps them disengage from the rigors of modern life. The newly opened Two 40 South is fixing to do just that. The dimly lit front room is outfitted with dark wooden cabinetry, a large glass window displaying wooden wine casks and a bar top for… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Jason Schiffer

    The craft-cocktail renaissance sweeping Orange County these days can be attributed to a small handful of people, one of whom is 320 Main's owner, Jason Schiffer. An old-school bartender with an eye for detail, he sets twists of citrus carefully on top of ice so the scent is there when the glass is tilted for a sip, without the twist… More >>
  • Best Bar Snack

    Peanuts at Goat Hill Tavern

    Drinking a constant stream of beer at Goat Hill Tavern (they have about a million different brews on tap) requires a little sponge in your stomach. For just a buck, you get a little basket of perfectly salted, crunchy peanuts—and for a dollar more, you get a big basket. Beer and peanuts are an indisputably winning combination, and here, when… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Taco Rosa

    Forget El Cholo, Javier's, El Torito, Acapulco's and the rest of the chains with their cheesy Cadillac margaritas featuring irritating salt crystals on the rim. There are nine different margaritas to choose from at Taco Rosa, everything from the "De Jamaica," which isn't ganja- or rum-based, as the Caribbean-sounding name might suggest, but rather contains, you know, jamaica (hibiscus flower)… More >>
  • Best Place to Down Pitchers of Margaritas

    Yucatan Grill

    Sometimes, you need just one lovingly crafted, ice-cold, puckery margarita at the end of a difficult day. And sometimes, you need a pitcher of 'em and a roomful of compadres to share it with. If it's one of the latter times, head over to Yucatan Grill in Seal Beach. The place can be hard to find for newbies, considering it… More >>
  • Best Signature Cocktail

    Sin-U-Rita at AnQi

    Though AnQi's cocktail list is both imaginative and opulent, one mixed drink stands out among the rest: the Sin-U-Rita. Handcrafted using Herradura Blanco tequila, watermelon, jalapeño and rock candy, this beverage finds the perfect balance of flavors—subtly sweet with just a hint of fire. And it's all topped with a sugar-salt rim. Completely refreshing and definitely unique, this cocktail is… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Sababa Restaurant and Lounge

    This dimly lit, modern lounge tucked away in the Marina Shores Shopping Center in Long Beach is home to the best martini in town: the LA Woman. Sababa's most popular martini is made with strawberry vodka, fresh muddled strawberries, orange juice, pineapple juice and Chambord liqueur, then topped with 7UP and soda water. It's like sipping a candy shop. Enjoy… More >>
  • Best Shot

    Raspberry Kamikaze at the Reno Room

    This vodka-based shot with raspberry and lime flavors is equal parts sweet and tart—and by some incredible combination of ingredient, it has the ability to make you actually teleport. One minute, you're slamming down shots at Reno, and the next thing you know, it's 3 a.m. and you're in line at Holé Molé. This isn't science—it's magic.… More >>
  • Best Froufrou Drink

    The Metropolitan at Watermarc Restaurant

    This Smirnoff vodka-based cocktail served in a martini glass (naturally) combines Watermarc's delicate strawberry purée with champagne and St. Germain elderflower liqueur. The result is sultry, sweet and bubbly—deliciously feminine, but with a serious kick. It's like a dream date in a glass.… More >>
  • Best Place for an X-Rated Vacation

    Parkers' Lighthouse

    Awwww, yeah, lemme slink alongside, strap my legs around your cylinder chamber and squeeze those searchlights, baby. No, wait, it ain't that kind of X-Rated Vacation. Perv. This X-Rated Vacation is a specialty cocktail served inside the turn-of-two-centuries-ago, Hotel del Coronado-esque, white lighthouse overlooking Long Beach's Shoreline Village. Most come here for a fancy-schmancy meal, but Parkers' Lighthouse is a… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Commonwealth Lounge

    Many of OC's illustrious watering holes are keen on attaching the word "lounge" to their signage. Some spots need to be reminded that most folks wouldn't apply that term to places with a funky smell and a barren, concrete floor. The Commonwealth in Fullerton actually lives up to its moniker by offering thirsty patrons a comfortable place to sip well-balanced… More >>
  • Best Lounge In High Places

    The Rooftop Lounge

    Sitting atop La Casa del Camino hotel in Laguna Beach, the Rooftop Lounge boasts the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean you'll find in Orange County. Guests enter through the hotel and climb a rather long staircase to get to the Promised Land, but it's worth the trek for the mojitos—even if one costs $12. The hand-muddled mojitos are… More >>
  • Best Venue for Live Music

    Detroit Bar

    Why does this perennial favorite win again? Let us count the ways: One, it's small, which means you can look the lead singer in the eye . . . as he's a foot away from you. Two, it books great acts. And by great, we mean Cat Power great. Peter Murphy great. Yo La Tengo great. Melvins great. Three, booking… More >>
  • Best Club DJ

    DJ Oldboy

    What do you get when you put together two turntables, an esoterically eclectic collection of vinyl, and a blues persona with a penchant for harmonicas and tambourine? DJ Oldboy, a.k.a. Chris Lynch. The man (and his persona) has been a DJ for more than four years, after he discovered the Kbeach.org radio station at his alma mater, Cal State Long… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    Chain Reaction

    Orange County's finest all-ages club is the physical representation of an angsty teenage boy. It looks (and smells) like a sweaty locker room. Every time you visit, Chain Reaction will be packed to the gills with 15-year-olds bouncing off the walls from too much . . . youth. Enjoy it. Get a buzz from eating a shitload of candy and… More >>
  • Juke Joint

    Best Punk-Rock Bar

    Juke Joint

    What's more punk rock than a total dive that serves PBR tall boys for $4 and most other beers for $2? The Juke Joint stage is dedicated to ex-Nekromantix drummer Andrew Martinez, with a photo and a plaque honoring the musician who died in a horrible 2009 car crash. It's also a big local draw for its Latin-music promotional nights,… More >>
  • Best Club to Get Down In

    Que Sera

    If you're a fan of tiny clubs filled with a ton of sweaty people smushed up against one another, dancing to good music on themed nights, Que Sera is perfect for you. The little black-and-red club is plunked on the cusp of seedy Long Beach and not-seedy Long Beach, and while the décor itself doesn't change much on the themed… More >>
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