BALBOA BARS 1.Any of a number of dives on the Newport Beach peninsula populated by surfers, coots—both kinds—and bill collectors seeking Sid Soffer, most of whom will end up drunk on a bike. 2. Popular confection sold on the peninsula that should be topped with those little chocolate sprinkles—none of that butter brickle or peanuts or other stuff they use to top Balboa Bars. Especially popular with that one kind of coot. Most famously sold at Dad's Donuts. 318 Marine Ave., Balboa Island, (949) 673-8686.
BARHAM RANCHIt's said that the bandit Joaquin Murrieta used to sit atop Robber's Roost overlooking this triangle in the Orange hills, waiting for the stagecoaches to pass through what is now called Weir Park. True or not, were Murrieta alive today, he'd see the ranch hasn't changed at all: the land, the brush, the animals are all as Murrieta left them more than a century ago. Few other areas in the county can make that claim. A little more than 525 acres, the "ranch" is nothing more than steep hillsides and plunging canyons. All the sagebrush and lemonade-berry shrubs make for a great early morning hike. Study questions: 1. How has Barham Ranch managed to remain undeveloped? 2. Where will they put the Barnes & Noble? 3. Hey, do you hear bulldozers? Discuss. BAYSIDE CENTER Start your day at Java City, which features fresh-baked breads and pastries; gourmet brewed and whole-bean coffee; and sandwiches, soups and salads. For fine Italian cuisine, Sapori Ristorante is sure to satisfy your appetite for lunch or dinner. But if you're pressed for time, Pavilions Place offers prepackaged salads and a service deli for your convenience, or you can mosey over to the Bayside Restaurant. Bayside Drive & Jamboree Road, one block south of Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach. BAY THEATRE A Seal Beach landmark since its opening in 1946, the Bay is one of the last independently owned theaters in the region and a cinematic treasure. Sometimes the Bay is just a nice little arthouse, and there's nothing wrong with that. But every now and then, they kick out the jams and launch a series of butt-whuppin' classic films in conjunction with another series of silent films such as Buster Keaton's The Cameraman, often accompanied by a live organist pumping away at the Mighty Wurlitzer. 340 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-9988. BEACH BOULEVARD COMPILATION One of the definitive OC punk records, up there with debuts from the Adolescents, TSOL and Social Distortion, featuring bands such as the Crowd, the Simpletones and Rik L. Rik. Who are they? Exactly. BENJIESTustin Avenue veers off slightly to the left as you approach 17th Street traveling south. Just ignore it. Keep going straight, and you'll end up in the parking lot of Benjies, where you should plan to stay a while. Even if OC were part of the Borscht Belt, Benjies would still be the only deli that mattered. The Formica-paneled confines of the original restaurant (which opened in the mid-'60s) are sure to find you considering your mealtime options longer than you anticipated. The menu's interminable offerings include more kosher items than the buffet cart at a Jackie Mason show. But you don't have to be Jewish! Somewhere among the menu's three dozen sandwiches, 16 full-course meals and practically infinite combinations thereof, even the goyim will spot something to nosh. Save room for the noodle kugel—just like Nana used to make! 1828 N. Tustin Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 541-6263. BERTOLINI'S Located at the Irvine Spectrum, Bertolini's has a vast selection of intense, rich, full-bodied and oaky red and white wines, including cabernet and blanc sauvignons, pinot noirs, and zinfandels from all around the world. The menu features a tantalizing array of Italian cuisine, from such traditional dishes as pizza, spaghetti and lasagna to more extravagant items such as the fazzoletto con funghl, a handkerchief of fresh pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese in wild mushroom sauce. For dessert, the gelati and sorbetti are made fresh daily . . . mmmm. 45 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 450-0600. BIG A SCORE BOARD Did you know that the huge triangular sign with the halo on top—you know, the one that sits alongside the 57 freeway . . . advertising the Stadium-Formerly-Known-As-Anaheim . . . yeah . . . that one—used to be located just over the left-field fence? Well, it did! It used to be the stadium scoreboard. Now it's just another electric billboard. Did you know . . . that the halo on top of the Big A still blinks when the Angels win—and when the nation is under attack? BIG FAT ROCKIN' BUM Huntington Beach is pretty much bum central during the hot months anyway—you got the Black-Clad Kickboxer, the Powdered-Sugar-Covered-Bikini-Girl-Chaser, the Drunk-And-Climbing-Into-Some-Family's-Minivan-er—but at the top of an already formidable crowd-pleasing pack is the Big Fat Rockin' Bum. He's a (obviously) rather stout fellow who belts out many a classic of rock & roll yesteryear while persistently following you all the way down the pier, and he's like your own personal soundtrack to summer. In the form of a large and probably sweaty bum! See also: David Crosby, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand BIONIC RECORDSOC's home-grown three-store mini-chain, made semifamous the world over when Dexter Holland wore Bionic T-shirts in mid-'90s Offspring videos. This is an aspiring young punk's paradise, the place to pick up that crusty band's arm patch or that sticker or T-shirt from a band that broke up before you were even born. Yeah, you could get the same swag at Hot Topic, but that wouldn't be as cool—and you wanna be cool, don't you? 5942 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 846-2585; 9549 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 828-4225; 2466 Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 536-1912.BLACKENED MUSHROOM AND TOFU NACHOSIs there anything worse than ordering nachos and finding a significant number of chips unslathered? No, there is not. Taco Loco's creation of sauted mushrooms with cheese and tofu—yes, tofu!—topped by a chunky guacamole salsa is heavenly not just because of how it tastes but because you'll be hard-pressed to find a chip without goop on it. What comfort there is in knowing that each bite has been lovingly attended to. 640 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-1635. Study questions: 1. What Eastern European nation, best known for its cache of big-boned children, also produces the world's highest-grade goop? 2. Was Hitler's eastern campaign an effort to gain access to this goop? 3. If Hitler had had access to high-grade, weapons-quality goop, would World War II have turned out differently? BLACK ROOM, THE New York has its Sewer Crocks, Louisiana its Bog Creature, Scotland its Nessie. Now OC has its very own urban legend, and it's a big, bad, mean . . . um, sex shop? Supposedly housed in Irvine under a jewelry store and reached only by hidden elevator, the Black Room first came to our attention through a friend who heard it from a friend who claimed she had been there. We were intrigued. Now, we're not saying that we ended up canvassing every jewelry store in Irvine, or that after No. 42, we were able to find the damn place. Or that we walked into a backroom where a tattered poster may or may have not have declared "Beware of the Leopard." We are also not saying that an intercom asked us our business or that we replied, somewhat nervously, "We'd like to see the Black Room." Or that the entire room then suddenly started to descend, hidden doors opening onto a large space with shelves crammed full of dildos the size of small dogs, S&M gear, and a UFO-shaped thing labeled "The Plate." We are not saying that someone who looked remarkably like District Attorney Tony Rackauckas was trying on a cheerleader's uniform or that someone else who reminded us of Britney Spears but with bigger breasts was checking out something with tentacles and spikes, grunting as if she were Yoko Ono trapped in a blender with a rabid beaver. We are not saying that, upon leaving, a gentleman fashionably attired in a dark blue suit shook our hand and said, "You do know that secret places are secret for a reason." And we are certainly not saying we felt compelled to keep some silly unspoken pact. Then again, we're not saying we didn't. We're just not saying. . . . BLACK TIGER Dark, earthy, smoky coffee blend that packs a swift caffeinated wallop. Brought to Orange Countians thanks to Irvine-based coffeehouse chain Diedrich Coffee's 1999 acquisition of Portland-based coffeehouse chain Coffee People. Diedrich began roasting and locally distributing Coffee People's signature Black Tiger Coffee. Nothing against Diedrich's own fine blends, but hopefully, we'll someday get local access to Coffee People's Mindsweeper and Velvet Hammer, whose names alone perk us up. BLIMP HANGARS 1. Right now, they're the largest and most guano-saturated unsupported wooden structures on the planet. In blimpier days, they were home to a fleet of big gassy sacks of hot air. Now that distinction belongs to . . . well, where do we start? 2. Rumor is that one of them is going to become a museum soon, once they sweep out the bat droppings. But there's a certain stately glory to these big ol' dinosaurs—like the Spruce Goose, they just don't overbuild stuff like they used to. Off Redhill in Tustin. For further information on big gassy sacks of hot air, consult www.leisureworld.com or any of a number of books written by Rush Limbaugh, Ayn Rand or thatEverything I Learned in Kindergarten guy.
BLOCK AT ORANGE Parental dumping ground for bored teens not old enough to have driver's licenses. Unfortunately, after blowing all their allowances at the fast-food court and 30-screen multiplex, bored teens have nothing to do here except walk around in circles and occasionally fuck with security. 20 The City Blvd. W., Orange.
BLOODY MARY 1.If you're at all discriminating, you avoid ordering Bloody Marys in dive bars, ballparks and at all costs on airplanes, where you'll have to settle for a concoction of third-rate vodka, wilted celery and Mr. and Mrs. T's while sitting next to a divorcee from Boca. Champps Americana in the Irvine Spectrum is the exception. They're a pseudo-sports bar stocked with three juicy tomato mixes, fat olives, cherry peppers and a legion of hot sauces. 51 Fortune Dr., Ste. 500, Irvine, (949) 453-9333.2. But sometimes you don't want to keep schlepping back to the trough like a Vegas-buffet parasite with $1.99 to burn. You want someone to make it for you, and not just any Sam Malone. John Q. Humphreys of the Ramos House Cafe is a chef, not a keg jockey, and his smoked-chile Bloody Mary is second to none. It comes in a canning jar brimming with a mixture of vodka, smoky chile-infused tomato juice, clam juice, olive fragments and pepper. Munching the crisp, marinated, home-canned green and wax beans that protrude from the top will make you feel like the healthiest boozer on the block. This creation is decadent enough as is, but Humphreys can also make one with stone crab if you like. 31752 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 443-1342. 3. The Beach Ballis a dark little place into which people stream early in the morning, not to wrap things up but to extend them into the next day. That's where Jody's Bloody Mary, the one she makes with Worcestershire sauce, red and green Tabasco, horseradish, crushed ground pepper, ground celery salt, and too much vodka, comes in. Hot and flavorful, it seems to open up additional airways and possibilities. Just a couple can mend the damage of a night's drinking and put you in the mood for something else, say, drinking another Bloody Mary from the sweet little glasses and singing "Sweet Caroline" along with the jukebox or waking up your brother, who you forgot was slumped over in the passenger seat of your car. 2116 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, (949) 675-8041.BLUE AGAVE This is about the best thing going for Yorba Linda. Ostensibly, the Blue Agave is a Southwestern restaurant, and the native desert dcor mostly makes that point. But the best item on the menu is the Montego Bay coconut-shrimp appetizer: big, plump prawns fried in shredded-coconut batter and served with an orange-chipotle marmalade for dipping. 18601 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 970-5095; recently opened in Huntington Beach. BOMBSHELLSee that pretty blonde at the Orange County Museum of Art reception desk? That is Nora Novak. Isn't she stunning? She's a painter, too! But most important, she was a model in Orange Coast magazine's spread of artists as fashion plates—a spread the mag tried to pass off as a new commitment to "covering art." BOOBY TRAP, THE 1. A house in Long Beach that used to/possibly still does host great shows. Last Halloween, someone set off a smoke bomb in the living room—asphyxiate-o-rific! 2. By invitation only. THE BOOKMAN, BOOKMAN TOOIn business for only 10 years, the Bookman, located just off the 55 freeway at Chapman in Orange, has already tripled in size, its vast stock of mostly used books swelling to the point that it leased out a big new space in Huntington Beach known as Bookman Too. Both stores are packed tight with everything from classics to books on technical engineering. A browser's dream. They've also got a new website up so you can order online at www.ebookman.com. Bookman, 840 N. Tustin Blvd., Orange, (800) 538-0166; Bookman Too, 19111 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 596-1999.BOOM BOOM ROOM A friend's parents went here by accident once, apparently not getting the hint from the cardboard silhouettes of men dining together in the window—because not only is this a great night spot, but it's also a great night spot for men who love the company of other men. But her parents stuck around anyway and heavily endorse the Wednesday-night drag show. A short convertible ride from West Street Beach, the Boom Boom Room is Laguna Beach's second-best spot for boy watching. 1401 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-7588. BOYSEN PARK ROCKET SHIP Back before people figured out that all that great stuff the Jetsons promised us was gonna take a helluva tax hike and a lot of swept-under-the-rug toxic byproducts, the future was so real you could touch it. Like the rocket ship jungle gym at Boysen Park. Then came the '70s, which replaced lithe Sputnik-era starships like this beauty with amorphous blobs of concrete cheese (how's that for a metaphor for the Carter years?). Now this rusty old relic (how's that for another one?) is one of the last—if not the last—reminders of the way things could have been in California in 2002. Shouldn't we be living on the moon by now anyway? 951 State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 254-5191. BRADFORD PARK AND HOUSEBradford Park features the Victorian-era Bradford House, built by one of Placentia's founders, A.S. Bradford, in 1902. Rumor has it that the house is haunted, but city historians assure us that the noises heard in the house are not ghosts; they are the sound of corks popping out of bottles. It seems that Mr. Bradford hid his liquor stash in the walls of the basement during Prohibition and then forgot them. 136 E. Palm Circle, Placentia, (714) 993-2470. BREA Brea is a town filled with malls, from sad, dilapidated centers nobody visits anymore to the polished, plasticized, we're-not-South-Coast-Plaza-but-we're-really-trying ambiance of Brea Mall and the spiffier, gaudier "shoppertainment" environs of the newer Birch Street Mall—excuse us, that's the Birch Street Promenade. So mall-mad is Brea that in recent years, a couple of golf courses were torn up to make way for large consumerist meccas—which, in golf-crazed OC, is really saying something. Yet as malled-out as Brea may seem, pockets of genuine wilderness remain north of the city. Carbon Canyon Regional Park boasts miles of hiking trails—including one that leads to a grove of redwoods—and the drive along Brea Canyon Road, past the rusting remains of the old oil derricks that lent the city its name ("brea" means "tar" in Spanish, y'see), is quite pretty, though often congested with commuter traffic flowing to and from LA and San Bernardino counties. These areas make the town's official nickname—"Tree City USA"—seem a little less of an irony. BREA CREEKThis is the site of Orange County's only reported Bigfoot (yes, that Bigfoot) sighting, if you don't count the time Daryl Hannah was in town with Jackson Browne. In 1982, residents on nearby Franklin Street reported a smelly, hulking figure prowling around the drainage channel. Police took plaster casts of immense footprints and determined that the culprit was just a particularly large and unkempt transient. At least, that's what they want you to believe. Brea Creek underpass at Franklin and Beach, Buena Park. BREAD PUDDING DESSERTWhen deciding on dessert at the Cedar Creek Inn, split the bread pudding soaked in bourbon, which will help you finally appreciate the phenomenon of people pretending to be art. 684 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-8696.BREN, DON Unbelievably powerful right-wing developer and Newport Beach resident who wants to build untold tens of thousands of really ugly homes throughout Irvine and East Orange. City councils and county supervisors trip over one another to accommodate his wishes. BRO, THE 1. Non-native predator, introduced after transplanted blue-collared Iowegians adapted to the cash-rich local economy and a coastal ecosystem. Distinguished by bleached-blond hair, tanned hide, slack jaw and frequent belly or bicep markings ("HB LOCAL," "LONG BEACH," "O x C x"), thought to attract potential mating partners. 2. Generally indigenous to areas convenient to water and/or alcohol. Genus includes the simple-tool-using BRO-MAGNON MAN (often found in high-rise pickup trucks), the BRO-MO ERECTUS (related: Girlfriendus Lookslikeastripperdon), and the comparatively primitive AUSTRALIA-BRO-PITHECUS (found sitting on the corner of Main and Walnut in Huntington). BROADCOM CORP. Watch for falling stock prices! The semiconductor maker and its partners—Henry Thompson Nicholas III and Henry Samueli—were living larger than anyone else in OC until the bottom fell out of the tech market. Nicholas and Samueli are still living fairly large, thanks to their somehow managing to sell off hordes of their Broadcom stock just before the crash. Too bad their ex-employees and stockholders weren't as lucky. BROWN, PAT 1. Former California governor. Current status: dead. 2. Guy who ran down some police officers outside the Cuckoo's Nest in 1982. Current status: dead. 3. Vandals song written about guy who ran down police officers. Current Vandals status: crap. BRYANT, KOBE 1. Newport Coast resident. 2. Suck on it, Sac-town. See also: Suckramento; Wah wah wah BUENA PARK Despite the glitzy theme-park "entertainment zone" at its heart, this center-of-the-Southland city still clings to a sunny but conservative suburban spirit. Like neighboring Anaheim, Buena Park (unnecessarily translated by some guidebooks as "good park") has pinned its hopes on America's appetite for expensive rides that make you throw up. But there's a decidedly mellower vibe to this unassuming freeway-bound town once you venture past Beach Boulevard. Gone are the heady rube-lubing days of yore when the last porno theater in the county shared real estate with an alligator farm and an "Enchanted Village" boasting a half-man, half-chimp mutant. Angry residents and something like good taste conspired to nurture a kinder, gentler entertainment zone, and a strong family-values ethos persists (in addition to the protests against the construction of a Hindu temple, Buena Park is home to homosexual-hating homeless advocate and Baptist firebrand Wiley Drake). Sure, that slapdash roadside-huckster tradition is still alive—just drive down Beach Boulevard at night—but with a pseudohistorical tie-in. Buena Park is about more than "anything for a buck." Call it the thinking man's Anaheim. Just don't think too hard.
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