How to Spend Your Summer Saturdays in Orange County
Oh, summer weekend: three days of unrestrained freedom to drink and eat and fuck and sunbathe and swim whenever, wherever or however you want. The parties, the beaches, the shows, the festivals, the carne asada Sundays, the booing of Dana Rohrabacher as he waves to the crowd during Huntington Beach's Fourth of July parade--so much to do, and so little time.
In fact, there's so much to do that, sometimes, you get overloaded and just sit at the bar at Cassidy's, or spend a full day at Bolsa Chica State Beach, or drive aimlessly around until you do . . . nothing. Or just go back to your living room and aimlessly swipe left on Tindr, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Well, we've got the perfect gift for you: a summer weekend timeline, from Friday midnight to 12:01 a.m. Monday, telling you what's the best thing to do at any particular hour. From sunrises to sunsets, evening concerts to 2 a.m. pho runs, epic PCH noon cruises to wonderful midmorning hikes to so many breakfast burritos that our No. 3 editor nearly puked just copy editing this issue, behold a smorgasbord of things to do in Orange County this summer. And if this doesn't inspire you to try something new? You might as well pack up and move to Colton--we hear it's happening nowadays. Enjoy!
12:01 A.M.: The Continental Room is still our little red gem of a home away from bros whenever we visit downtown Fullerton. It's cozy, you can always bum a smoke out back, and the drinks are cheap--what you deserve to end your Friday night and begin your Saturday. 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-4529; www.continentalroomoc.com.
12:15 A.M.: Few things end a drunken, muggy summer night better than Asian-Cajun food. At The Big Catch in Long Beach, you can get crawfish by the pound. But the best draw are the happy hour oysters--$1.50 morsels of pure, sweet ocean. 150 E. Broadway, Long Beach, (562) 491-4600; www.thebigcatchseafood.com.
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1:08 A.M.: The drinking game is still going strong at Lola Gaspar, but don't forget to swing by Little Sparrow for its after-hours happy hour. 300 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 265-7640; www.littlesparrowcafe.com.
2:45 A.M.: Ever had a huge bowl of pho at this time of the morning? One from Pho 54 will keep you full until the next Tet. 15420 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 839-9096.
3:33 A.M.: The most interesting thing in Irvine is happening right now at the Walmart Supercenter. What, exactly? Whatever it is, it's easily more interesting than any other non-Persian, non-Asian thing in town, even in the day--you can look it up! 16555 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, (949) 623-7467.
4:17 A.M.: Tube8 may rule your nights now, but take a stroll through Spankys and buy a porno for old time's sake. May we suggest College Days Gone Bi? 213 N. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 554-3098; www.spankysonline.com.
5:47 A.M.: Greet the morning by watching the sunrise from the sand near the Santa Ana River mouth separating Newport and Huntington beaches. When there is no parking anywhere else, this is the best place to find a space close by. (Better yet, bike or jog over.) The sand is never crowded, especially not this early in the morning or when inland yahoos frolic in the river mouth's toxic stew. Bounded by Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
6 A.M.: Not sure if you can get an actual Tequila Sunrise at the Beach Ball, but a shot of Don Julio as dawn arrives is close enough. Just a warning: The only people here at opening time are men who'll drink you so under the table you'll end up with Mickey Mantle's original liver. 2116 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, (949) 675-8041.
6:01 A.M.: Ever see the sunrise in Irvine? We know you think it ain't the most enticing of cities (see: Walmart Supercenter), but take a morning walk through UC Irvine, along its winding pathways and well-foliaged campus. Then stop at Aldrich Park, the expansive, circular-shaped forest at the middle of the university that at once seems a world away from the dreary, industrial coldness the city's known for and a perfect escape to greet Mr. Sun. You'll leave mesmerized by the sight of daylight's first rays reaching over the park's eucalyptus trees. At Engineering Service and Inner Ring roads, Irvine.
6:30 A.M.: Heidelberg Cafe and Bistro and its famous muffins have drawn crowds of unreconstructed hippies (and healthy eaters) in Laguna Beach for two decades now. But why eat grains when you can start your day with German sausage and eggs? 1100 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-4594; www.heidelbergcafe.com.
6:48 A.M.: For centuries, Californians have greeted the day in the desert, to bask at the purples and pinks and stark beauty of it all. And the truly crazy do it by going on a hike out there, like the 1.7-mile nature trail at Skull Rock in Joshua Tree. But do it now; by 9 a.m., you'll be a walking, boiling human.
7:02 A.M.: It just opened, so you can likely snag one of the limited number of seats inside The Alley. Recommended brunch specialties include the breakfast sandwich (fried egg, Gruyere, avocado, tomato and Canadian bacon on an English muffin) and the Classic (three eggs, bacon, sausage, cheesy potatoes and toast). It sounds basic, but the Alley's chefs toss in gourmet flares. You can also build your own breakfast burrito and wash everything down with a damn fine Bloody Mary or bottomless Champagne (with or without orange or cranberry juice). 4501 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 646-9126; thealleynewportbeach.com.
7:15 A.M.: Make a filling breakfast, then put on your hiking boots and head out to Blackstar Canyon. Smell the clean air and earthy scents on your way in. Turn left onto Black Star Canyon Road from Silverado Canyon Road and drive until you hit the lot. The hike starts off easy, and then gets pretty crazy and fun when you enter the creek bed and have to do some bouldering. There's a waterfall at the end of the trail, but it's dried up during summer. Make sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen, and watch for poison oak and the crazy residents of the area who might wield a shotgun at you just for shits and giggles.
7:22 A.M.: Nothing like the smell of freshly baked conchas and pan dulce from a Mexican bakery to caress your nostrils awake. And while there are dozens of panaderías across Orange County, The Mill Bakery is gospel: where jornaleros get a quick bite before getting picked up at the parking lot next door, where retirees stay for hours and gossip about the rancho back in Michoacán, and where independent vendors outside offer their own homemade tamales for sale. Why would you ever want to go on with your day? 312 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 543-4233; millbakery.com.
7:47 A.M.: Central OC isn't known for its natural beauty, but Mile Square Park is a great place to walk, jog or play Frisbee. There's plenty of free parking on its perimeter, but the main entrance is at 16801 Euclid St., Fountain Valley, (714) 973-6600; www.ocparks.com/parks/mile.
8:15 A.M.: If it's still pretty chilly out, get a tartine or a ham-and-butter sandwich and a huge mug of café au lait at Moulin Bistro. Hang out inside at the directly-from-a-Parisian-post-card tables; otherwise, take your breakfast outside and people-watch. 1000 Bristol St. N., Newport Beach, (949) 474-0920; moulinbistro.com.
8:29 P.M.: Thousand Steps Beach is a heavenly descent into paradise. The name is a bit of a misnomer, of course: There is a long, winding staircase to get to the stunning shoreline, but it's only about 300 steps--still good enough to break a sweat if you run 'em like Rocky! Once upon the sand, Thousand Steps offers crystal-blue waters edged with emerald green. Sea caves and pools give ample opportunity to commune with and explore nature's splendors. Pick a spot, roll out a towel or yoga mat, and bask in the knowledge you're not in Newport. 31972 Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.
8:45 A.M.: Get one of the massive omelets or the amazing apple pancake at your favorite Original Pancake House--but make sure someone's ready to split it with you, lest you be hit by a food coma so early in the day. www.originalpancakehouse.com.
8:56 A.M.: Betcha you've never had a Middle Eastern breakfast. . . . Oh, you have? Liar. Anyhoo, get one of the best at Kareem's, the legendary falafel purveyor in Anaheim's Little Arabia that also stocks a full Levantine morning menu. Load up not just on foul (the egg dishes), but especially on fatteh: low-cooked garbanzo beans mixed up with toasted pita chips, lost in a sea of warmed yogurt, with almond slivers, parsley, sumac and a touch of olive oil. You'll laugh at all lumberjack brekkies forevermore. 1208 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim, (714) 778-6829.
9 A.M.: Located in an unassuming business park, Newport Beach's Triad Yoga Studio is just that: unassuming and humble. The studio caters to yogis of all ages, sizes and skill levels with nine different types of yoga and Pilates. Triad's staff live in such a state of unforced zen that you'll wonder where you can get a sip of that Kool-Aid. It turns out the Kool-Aid is actually the high that comes from stretching and inverting your body into impossibly limber contortions. With Saturday's Vinyasa Weekend Flow class, you'll stretch and invert in a relatively fast-paced series of poses. Yes, it can be tough. Yes, you'll sweat. But you'll be aglow with endorphins when you end on your back in the aptly titled corpse pose, mind quieted and body galvanized for some weekend shenanigans. 5031 Birch St., Newport Beach, (949) 281-6049 www.triadyogaca.com.
9:17 A.M.: Stop for a spell at the Sunset Beach Water Tower. For this weekend, pretend you're a baller and you can afford the $3,500 per week to rent it out. Stare at the round bathroom, 175-pound aquarium, breathtaking summer-sky views, and the prospect of future bragging rights to be brought up at every opportunity. 1 Anderson St., Sunset Beach, (714) 374-6157.
9:37 A.M.: Listen to your hangry howl and head to any Bagel Me! for a pre-brunch quickie. Wash down big egg-melt bites of pure gooey goodness encased in two perfectly crisp bagels with a tall glass of refreshing orange juice. The big meal comes with wedges that resemble golden, seasoned potatoes but are really apples. How do you like them manzanas? bagelme.com.
9:48 A.M.: It wouldn't be a summer weekend in OC without a trip to the beach, but even better would be a beach picnic. Head for the Irvine Farmers Market at Mariners Church, where more than 200 booths contain a riot of produce so tempting it's become a tourist attraction in its own right. Bread, salami, vegetables and plenty of fruit go into your reusable bag, all for absurdly low prices given the quality. 5001 Newport Coast Ave., Irvine.
10:03 A.M.: Unless you're a Google employee, it's easy to miss BLK Coffee, tucked behind the tech giant's Irvine campus. Despite the name's vowel-less reference to black coffee, BLK's best-seller is a sweet, creamy iteration of Vietnamese iced coffee (dubbed the VTM, of course). It's as strong, silky and addictive-as-crack as the best of them. You'll slurp it down fast, but feel free to lounge on the shop's comfy black (or is it blk?) couches. 19510 Jamboree Rd., Ste. 150, Irvine, (949) 752-2882; blkcoffeeshop.com.
10:08 A.M.: Your tots will love Pretend City Children's Museum, where they can man the store; work the farm or restaurant; visit the bank or the library; and spend countless hours being a doctor, dentist or firefighter. Countless. Hours. 29 Hubble, Irvine, (949) 428-3900; pretendcity.org.
10:13 A.M.: Eating breakfast at Side Street Cafe feels as if you're eating a homemade meal cooked by your mom or aunt, and the environment reinforces that. A family-owned business, the walls are decorated with portraits and wall hangings with silly sayings on them, and the women look straight out of Little House On the Prairie. The menus might be handwritten. Omelets, French toast, chilaquiles and drinks in mason jars are among the classics served, but scout out the cheapskate special--it would've pleased Pa Ingalls himself. 1799 Newport Blvd., Ste. A105, Costa Mesa, (949) 650-1986; facebook.com/Side-Street-Cafe.
10:47 A.M.: Another morning at Harbor House because Harbor House. It's the perfect weekend, so there's a parking spot available, and you didn't even have to be reminded of your own mortality when turning into the lot in front of that blind turn on Anderson Street. Don't worry, kids, it's just as fun in the sunlight as it is at 3 a.m.
11 A.M.: Yes, the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, the largest surf (and surf lifestyle--that's you, Black Flys bros!)--competition in the world, is a clusterfuck. Yes, Saturdays in particular are Long Marches of bros, bro hos, cops and teens ready to riot for rioting's sake (and try to destroy defenseless OC Weekly newsstands in the process--RIP, Racky). But this is the time to experience the Open (which stretches from July 25 to Aug. 2) in all its glory, with Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Andy Irons, Stephanie Gilmore and Courtney Conlogue ready to ride to glory. There are also skateboarding and BMX contests, movie premieres, music (assuming city officials don't get cold feet about too many beer-drinking bros ruining the fun), fashion shows, and lots of product demos by every surf and skate brand you can think of. At the Huntington Beach Pier, Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach; www.vansusopenofsurfing.com.
11:03 A.M.: We admit it's kind of a kiddie spot mired in the musk of Poseidon's farts (dead fish smell). But there's something ultimately nostalgic about the seaside Balboa Fun Zone, full of old-school arcades, eateries and a Ferris wheel. It's a slice of classic Newport worth seeing while the sun's up--especially if you're an Arrested Development fan! 600 E. Bay Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 723-5387; www.thebalboafunzone.com.
11:30 A.M.: The swing revival is dead; bachata is for bored Laguna Niguel housewives looking to pick up a Latino boy toy. So learn your moves through the prism of modern dance at Jimmy DeFore Dance Center. Contraction, release, breathing and a relationship with a floor are a couple of things students learn and practice, along with improvisational movement, which, when coupled with soft piano pieces, has a therapeutic, soul-filtering effect. 51 Kalmus Dr., Ste. G3, Costa Mesa; www.deforedance.com.
11:39 A.M.: Time for a late, no-frills, homestyle breakfast at cozy Penguin Café. 981 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-1353; www.thepenguincafe.com.
NOON: Celebrate this annual Summer Guide issue with the rest of the faithful readers of this infernal rag. On June 21, we'll be at the Newport Dunes Resort, eating and drinking from the best local vendors with live reggae band Through the Roots banging out island-party anthems with the Originalites, Solution and more. Buy a ticket or 80, gentle reader! 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach; microapp.ocweekly.com/summerfest.
12:01 P.M.: Even in the blazing heat, people begin populating the parking lot at the El Centro Cultural de México for the annual Música en Movimiento open-air concert, happening this year on July 25. It's the best deal in town to catch rabble-rousing rebel music on the local scene, from established headliners to up-and-comers. Ringing the venue are canopies of conscious community, with groups giving info about their principled activism. Whether backed by a band or a DJ, the siren songs for a good time and better world beam out to the audience. 313 N. Birch St., Santa Ana, (714) 543-0095; elcentroculturaldemexico.org.
12:08 P.M.: You come for the Bloody Mary and the build-your-own breakfast burrito bar at 3 Thirty 3. You stay for the view. Yes, the bay is beautiful, but so is a restaurant full of Newport's finest export--cougars! Do an experiment and stay there a full Saturday, from the beginning until its 1 a.m. closing, then report back to us. . . . 333 Bayside Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 673-8464; www.3thirty3nb.com.
12:44 P.M.: Lunchtime! Cream Pan Bakery has the best strawberry croissants on Earth. Strawberries ain't your jam? There are banana, apple, blueberry and almond croissants for your persnickety ass, plus a wider assortment of sugary breads. Prepare to wait in line--that's why God created smartphones. 602 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 665-8239; www.creampanbakery.com.
1 P.M.: After buying up cheap Dickies, guayaberas, rare Mexican CDs, pissing-Calvin decals and belts that the nice mujer swears will make you lose weight at the Anaheim Marketplace, relax by catching its Saturday impersonation showcase. See people pretend to be everyone from Vicente Fernández to Juan Gabriel to Jenni Rivera to Michael Jackson, the latter being the only American true paisas respect besides Charles Bronson. 1440 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 999-0888; anaheimmarketplace.com.
1:22 P.M.: Elementary-aged kids can roam the Discovery Cube. In addition to the "International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes" exhibit, there will be new stuff galore to explore, thanks to a much anticipated expansion (all of which debuted June 11). Make sure to get the worth-it membership. 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-2823; www.discoverycube.org/oc.
1:30 P.M.: Stop at Sprinkles Cupcakes for an ice cream in a red-velvet cone. Basic? Almost. Overdone trend? Maybe. But it's your weekend, and nobody's gonna bring you down. 944 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 760-0003; www.sprinkles.com.
1:47 P.M.: Fun fact: A lot of tattoo shops leave their Saturdays open for walk-ins, meaning you don't have to make an appointment to get tattooed by some of the best artists in OC. Shops such as Gold Rush Tattoo in Costa Mesa won't even take appointments on Saturdays, so why not stop by and get some ink? 1779 Newport Blvd., Ste. B, Costa Mesa, (949) 646-7874; www.goldrushtattoo.com.
2:01 P.M.: Ride a beach cruiser along the boardwalk, admire the lawn-furniture spreads next to the 909ers' RVs in the parking lots, and eventually wind up at Main Street in Huntington Beach. This is about as close as OC gets to Venice (California), and while there are not nearly as many weirdos, you can do some serious people-watching. And if Jack's Surfboards or Huntington Surf & Sport have shoe and clothing racks outside, you might luck into a screaming deal.
John Gilhooley/OC Weekly
2:20 P.M.: Surf City's Main Street scene can overwhelm the senses, so a nice, quiet place to feed your mind and body is Bodhi Tree. The uninitiated may see a plate of crispy lemon "chicken" or a bowl of sizzling rice soup with "pork" and think they have stumbled into a typical Asian restaurant. But Bodhi Tree's tasty meats are mock; all dishes are vegan. And un-mock meat eaters and those who won't eat anything with a face love this place equally. It's so peaceful you'll find enlightenment after the fifth bite of each dish, guaranteed. 501 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-9500; bodhitreehb.com.
2:28 P.M.: Turcs is that charming little Hobbit-house-lookin' neighborhood bar rumored to be an old haunt of John Wayne and Errol Flynn. It was named after former owner Turk Varteresian, a dynamic dude who starred in films and television shows such as The Ten Commandments and Get Smart, respectively. He was also an award-winning body builder and Ronald Reagan's bodyguard, so go, you chicken fat, to shoot pool and take shots. Nightime's nice, but if you go during the day, you can say hi to Joy--because, well, she's a real joy to be served by at the bar. 16321 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-2311.
2:47 P.M.: Take a break from the Huntington madness, and walk up Main Street and drop into Perq's for $4 Jaeger shots and Upheaval IPA. 117 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-9996; www.perqsbar.com.
3:13 P.M.: The Saturday afternoon is at its worst right now, so time for a blast of air conditioning. Grab a friend and shop (or, if you're a broke journalist, window shop) at South Coast Plaza. The floors of the luxury shopping complex are lined with designer boutiques, distinguished by displays of a select few items that cost more than the entire inventory of one Forever 21. Don't worry if you can't pronounce Hermès, or if Chanel is above your paygrade; it's still fun to wonder at the overpriced, infomercial-worthy gadgets of Brookstone ("Why, yes, I do need slippers with shiatsu massage capabilities") and sales associates who dress nicer than you do for weddings. 901 S. Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 435-2000; www.southcoastplaza.com.
3:11 P.M.: Foodies have yet to create a good term for the meal between lunch and dinner--whatever it is, that's what Confetti Italian Ice was put on this Earth to do. It serves Italian ice-and-frozen custard parfaits that mimic Snickers bars, Cactus Coolers, Drumstick ice cream cones, S'mores and more. Get your brain freeze on early, so your cerebrum defrosts for the drinks to come. 1175 Baker St., Costa Mesa, (714) 545-1175.
3:28 P.M.: If art is about creative experimentation, drinking wine while painting seems to be a natural pairing. That's the concept at Pinot's Palette: You take a painting class and drink wine (you can bring your own bottle or purchase one of theirs), and then you anticipate how your inner Picasso fares with cabernet sauvignon as your muse. For each class (which can run from two to three hours), seats are prepicked so you perch at whichever station you're assigned; with drink in hand, you're almost guaranteed to make a new BFF. 2479 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 400-9016; www.pinotspalette.com.
3:45 P.M.: Still not drunk? Huntington Beach Wine Co. is Surf City's only wine bar and retail store. The store features a great selection of California bottles to go as well as wine by the glass or flight. If beer's your thing, there are always several IPAs and other craft beers on tap as well. 301 Main St., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-7400; www.mainstreetwinecompany.com.
4:02 P.M.: Time to view almost all of Orange County in its glory. Start at Eastgate Park in Garden Grove, where Chapman Avenue begins, and drive--drive, damn you! Take Chapman through Garden Grove and Orange, seeing the former's midcentury suburbia gradually turn into the turn-of-the-century beauty that is the Orange Circle. Keep driving, as Chapman takes you through the El Modena barrio and hilly Orange Park Acres. Go into OC's badlands as Chapman turns into Santiago Canyon Road, and wave to the biker gangs and weekend warriors on their hogs. Keep driving. Thank Jeebus that developers have yet to lay waste to Limestone Canyon Regional Park, Whiting Ranch, Modjeska Canyon and the rest of mountainous OC. Keep driving as Santiago Canyon turns into El Toro Road, and you're now in Lake Forest. Try in vain to find any actual lakes or forests, but keep driving. Curse as you speed underneath the 73 toll road, then end at Laguna Canyon Road, where nothing but sage hills stand testament to the land's beauty. When the latest construction truck rumbles past you, going north to develop more of Laguna Beach, you can curse Orange County anew. 12001 Saint Mark St., Garden Grove.
4:14 P.M.: The Longboard Restaurant and Pub bills itself as the "best restaurant and pub in the world as we know it." There's a full bar (and several flat-screen televisions set to sports networks) in front and a cozy patio area in back, so take your pick. Whatever beer you're drinking--yes, you are still drinking; it's Surf City in the summertime, bro--it'll go great with either the Jamming Jerk Wings or the barbecue tri-tip sandwich. 217 Main. St., Huntington Beach, (714) 960-1896; www.longboardpub.com.
4:22 P.M.: Looking to pre-game for Saturday night (or get day drunk) without breaking the bank while still getting a view of the ocean? Cabo Cantina has two-for-one drinks from 4 in the afternoon until 8 p.m. every day. The food is . . . well, the drinks are cheap! 100 Main St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-7760; www.cabocantina.com.
4:47 P.M.: Can't find more potentially life-threatening drama--especially if arriving Pacific Ocean waves are more than 20 feet tall--than at The Wedge, located on the tip of Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach.
5:11 P.M.: Local sushi spots are a dime a dozen in OC, but what we like about Sushi Imari is that your dime usually goes a bit further here. Aside from having great sashimi (try anything with the word "salmon belly" in it), the chefs are known to hook you up with extra portions and samples on the side if you become a favored son--and you will. 375 Bristol St., Ste. 40, Costa Mesa, (714) 641-5654.
5:17 P.M.: La Sirena Grill is not the most obvious place to eat in Laguna, hidden in a quiet neighborhood, away from much of the city's cultural elements. But its quaintness and small seating area makes this spot worthy of ignoring Taco Loco at least once. Try the California burrito, classic excellence and a delicious departure from the versions offered at any Alberto's clone. 347 Mermaid St., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-8226; www.lasirenagrill.com.
5:28 P.M.: Others here have or will plug most of downtown SanTana's wonderful restaurants or pubs, so let's give a shout-out to those that deserve more love. Start the evening slowly with a pint at Good Beer or a glass at the Robbins Nest, then head south to nibble on small plates at Eqeko Peruvian Cantina in order to brace your stomach for heartier beverages. Good Beer, 309 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana; thegoodbeerco.com. The Robbins Nest, 207 W. Second St., Santa Ana, (714) 568-9926; www.robbinsnestwinebar.com. Eqeko Peruvian Tapas, 309 W. Third St., Santa Ana, (714) 547-7868; www.eqeko.com.
5:58 P.M.: At this early-evening hour, Mariscos Los Corales attracts everyone from jornaleros fresh from a day laying cement to viejitos, cholos and even hipster chicks straight out of a Refinery29 post. Never go by yourself: Take a hint from everyone else and go in groups, the better to enjoy the massive plates of shrimp prepared every way from flash-fried to butterflied, from crunchy tacos to the magnificent aguachile, ceviche writ large, served colder than a cubeta, and sluiced in the hottest salsa this side of a tía. On the corner of Pine and Main streets, Santa Ana, (714) 713-1770.
6:01 P.M.: Those crazy Orange County Fair crowds a bit too much for you? Sneak off to nearby Smallwood Park, just hidden enough that you won't have to worry about those crazy crowds knowing about it. With two playgrounds, a softball field and a couple of picnic tables, it's named after a husband-and-wife council-member-and-school trustee team, back in the days when Costa Mesa politicians tried to govern for the common good instead of advancing ideological idiocies. 1646 Corsica Place, Costa Mesa.
6:26 P.M.: A bib is necessary to keep your shirt clean from flying seafood remnants while happily cracking crabs and peeling open crawfish or shrimp at the Boiling Crab. 13892 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 636-4885; www.theboilingcrab.com.
6:33 P.M.: There will be any number of spectacular shows at the various venues of the Segerstrom Center this summer--be a class act and go to as many as possible. Better yet, get to a show just before starting time and stand in the plaza. Have some acoustic fun at the massive Richard Serra installation. Eavesdrop on the crowd--yes, many are rich and mighty, but there are also a lot of young folks ready to get their culture on. 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.scfta.org.
6:44 P.M.: It's margarita-and-munchies time at Solita. 7631 Edinger Ave., Ste. 1508, Huntington Beach, (714) 894-2792; www.solitatacos.com.
7 P.M.: Be in your Pacific Amphitheatre seat, with your drinks paid for and in hand, on Aug. 15 because Orange County Fair concerts start right on time, as those of us who took our time leaving the World of Beers line and nearly missed all of the opening act learned last year. You won't want to miss any of Steel Pulse ("Roller Skates, "Your House," "Not King James Version") before the Wailers (" No Woman, No Cry," "Redemption Song," "Exodus"). The contact high will be worth the price of admission--which includes free access to the fair. 100 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-1500; www.pacamp.com.
7:32 P.M.: Playground 2.0's dinners are some of the most value-packed, delicious feasts around. Jason Quinn is infamous for his mercurial menu, which changes not daily, not hourly, but sometimes within minutes. But he's a softie at heart, so those supposedly one-off specials sometimes become permanent, such as Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken--golden hen with skin so crispy you'd think it were pulled sugar. The sticker price (between $100 and $200) seems high, sure, but you're getting upwards of 15 courses, with drink pairings and service already included. Trust us: It's a steal. 220 E. Fourth St., Ste. 104, Santa Ana, (714) 560-4444; playgrounddtsa.com.
7:43 P.M.: California Shabu Shabu has a colorful atmosphere (superheroes on display on the graffiti-coated walls, plus a tabletop Mrs. Pac-Man) that will distract the kids and adults alike. And then there's the expertly sliced-in-front-of-you meats, fresh veggies and attentive servers. It's shabu shabu time--shabu shabu! 801 Baker St., Costa Mesa, (714) 540-1888; www.californiashabushabu.com.
7:59 P.M.: So you decided to ditch a Segerstrom show and didn't even bother to catch one at South Coast Repertory--classless bastard. Your only salvation will be sidling up to the bar at Pizzeria Ortica and asking for liquid mercy at the hands of bartenders Joel Caruso and Aristotle Altstaetter. Let them regale you with their knowledge of amaros and liqueurs so bitter they make Fernet Branca taste like a Hershey's bar. 650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 445-4900; pizzeriaortica.com.
8 P.M.: As our beloved Leonard Nimoy would say, "Keep watching the skies," but we're sure he didn't mean toward a giant movie screen. But on Aug. 22, Irvine Meadows Amphitheater (gracias for switching back to its old-school name, Irvine Co., before you level it for more condos!) will screen 2009's Star Trek, with a live score by the Pacific Symphony. Here's another Nimoy saying: "I'd say this vessel could do at least Warp Five." Because why not? 8808 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, (714) 755-5799.
8 P.M.: Though their hairlines may recede, the Misfits (and their devilocks) remain indestructible. And they still know how to whip up a moshpit. This summer, they're doing a three-day residency at The Observatory playing their classic albums; June 20 is Earth A.D. in its entirety. 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com.
8:30 P.M.: Nothing accompanies a giant plate of mojo-zested protein better than a side of caramelized, creamy maduros. Of course, Bella Cuba doesn't stop there: It throws in a side of well-spiced black beans and way too much rice, just to ensure you're waddling by the time you finish your meal. This is after you started with crisp, buttery bread and an appetizer of deep-fried papas rellenas. You could wash this all down with a tall glass of sangria or an über-sweet Cuban soda, but the strongly brewed café con leche holds up best to the rich meal. 3930 S. Bristol St., Ste. 114, Santa Ana, (714) 545-5711; www.bellacubarestaurant.com.
8:45 P.M.: Hope you're early for one of the Frida Cinema's ever-eclectic screenings. And if you're not? Try to find head-everything Logan Crow, shake his hand and thank him for believing in the redemptive power of cinema. Then help him man concessions--your mitzvah for the night. 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 285-9422; www.thefridacinema.org.
9:02 P.M.: Snuggle next to someone at the Huntington Beach Fire Pits before dumbass residents and politicians ban them for good.
9:41 P.M.: Balboa crawl! If you're looking for more of the douchebag/minidress kind of scene, Woody's Wharf and American Junkie are right next to each other and two of the more tolerable places for douchey debauchery. If it's a chill drinking spot you're after, ask the oldest bartenders at Balboa Saloon, Blackie's By the Sea or Class of '47 for a history lesson on their bars. If you get the right ones, they've got some wild stories to tell. Woody's Wharf, 2318 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-0474; www.woodyswharf.com. American Junkie, 2406 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-4444; www.americanjunkienb.com. Balboa Saloon, 700 E. Bay Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 673-9783; www.balboasaloon.com. Blackie's By the Sea, 2118 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, (949) 675-1074; www.blackiesbythesea.com. Class of '47, 209 Palm St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-5774; www.classof47.net.
9:35 P.M.: Your Anaheim Angels of Anaheim might not be having a great season, but they'll be throwing one hell of a party on the Fourth of July at Angels Stadium for the OC Block Party. Bands, art installations, vendors--all lead up to this time, when the fireworks start blasting and distracting drivers on the 57 freeway. Hey, anything colorful so they don't have to look at that gawdawful ARTIC station boondoggle across the way. . . . 2000 E. Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, (714) 940-2000; ocblockparty.com. 10 P.M.: The wait at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel is always long; on Saturday night, you'd have better luck at a Moscow toilet-paper line circa 1978. But once inside, you remember why you tested your patience: for the most delirious slice of tiki culture this side of the Tonga Room in San Francisco. Sure, it's all Disneyfied--but the drinks ain't, hardy grogs that would level Admiral Nelson himself. Order the biggest, most obnoxious drink possible, the Uh-Oa!, and join the rest of the crowd as they chant its name into a mantra. Congrats! You are now a cargo-cult deity. 1150 Magic Way, Anaheim, (714) 781-3463.
10:17 P.M.: Pie Society calls itself a speakeasy--it's not. There's no illegal hooch, it's only as hidden as a back yard, and the man-cave interior of '70s grandpa antiques doesn't exactly hearken back to Prohibition. Don't hold the misnomer against it, though; it's still a great place with great drinks. Attached to Costa Mesa's Pitfire Pizza, it crafts cocktails such as the Thyme After Thyme; sprigged with its namesake herb, the effervescent drink blends gin from sauvignon blanc barrels, peach, lemon and sparkling wine. Too girly for you? There's also a menu dedicated to beer and shot pairings, or the Corpse Reviver No. 2, a mix of gin, absinthe and citrus liqueurs. Like the speakeasy designation, Reviver is probably a misnomer; Corpse Intoxicator is more like it. 353 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 313-6335; www.piesocietybar.com.
10:32 P.M.: The night's just getting started at Sutra, so practice your pickup game on women whose league is so high they think you're Arizona Fall ball. Remember: You're a venture capitalist who got into TechCrunch's newsletter last week. . . . 1870 Harbor Blvd., Ste. A-200, Costa Mesa, (949) 722-7103; www.sutraoc.com.
10:49 P.M.: Curse anew the Anaheim Ducks' early exit at Kelly's Korner Tavern with another order of the carne asada nachos. Tip Carmen an extra $20 for just being awesome. 909 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia, (714) 961-9396; kellyskornertavern.com.
Marine Room Tavern
11:01 P.M.: Do as the Laguna locals do and enjoy one of the longtime dives around town before the newbie billionaires run them out. Start at the Marine Room Tavern, which has lubricated fiends since 1934. It has gotten a bit of a face-lift in recent years, but the whiskey list is formidable, and it's a great space for live tunes, befitting its motto "Live Music, Whiskey, Pretty Girls." If you're feeling extra salty, go to the "Dirty Bird," a.k.a. The Sandpiper, a relative whippersnapper in the scene--it's only been open since the 1940s. Marine Room Tavern, 214 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3027; www.marineroomtavern.com. The Sandpiper Lounge, 1183 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-4694.
11:46 P.M.: Whether you're about the music at the bar or prefer it in the background as you sip your drink, Alex's Bar is aces. There are plenty of reasons why this place is so popular, as well as why True Blood's producers made it a series regular: Alex's is the perfect blend of personable, punk and Gothic, with a red-and-black color scheme out of a burlesque house in the Badlands. And, of course, there's the drinks--keep 'em coming! 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com.
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