Drunk After Work: Dave and Buster's

The Place: Dave and Buster's at the Block, 20 The City Dr. West, Orange; (714) 769-1515. Second location at Irvine Spectrum, 71 Fortune Dr. Irvine; (949) 727-0555.

The Hours: 4:30-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

The Deal: 50% off all cocktails; beer and wine specials; video game play specials.

The Scene: Dave and Buster's is Chuck E. Cheese for adults who enjoy a cocktail with their skeeball, driving games and Dance Dance Revolution. Fortunately, there's also a relatively sane sunken billiards parlor and a separate bar away from the ding-ding-ding-ding-ding of the machines. In the afternoons, the crowds tend to be thin and family-oriented. In the evenings, when under-21s aren't permitted, the atmosphere can get a little thuggy with young people from the surrounding area with nothing better to do. Still, sit at the main bar and you should be shielded from most of the juvenile goings-on.

The Sauce: Standard bar. The bar is decently stocked with bottles, and with mostly swill (Bud-Coors-Miller) on tap and a depressing wine list, you should seek refuge in the hard stuff. this is a place where you will get exactly what you expect. There is a long drinks menu with fanciful names like "The Hennessey Collection" and a too-long list of sticky sweet drinks with six and eight ingredients. Still, at half price, it's a stone-cold steal.

The Eats: Surprisingly good, and the reason this actually made it into Drunk After Work. It was the chicken nachos that stole the show: instead of an insipid pile of chips with congealed, plastic yellow cheese welded to the top layer and the toppings concentrated on the center, this was a row of several chips, each with some of each topping piled on top. The queso (that's nacho cheese dip to me and you) was nicely tangy and not too salty, and the potato skins had some heft to them without being saucers of sour cream.

The Verdict: If you're really just an overgrown kid who misses Chuck E. Cheese, this is the place for you. If you're comfortable with adulthood, you'll need to hide in the bar or the billiards floor, or head elsewhere.

The Grade: B-; this should be a B because of the food, but happy hour is more about drinking than eating, and that beer and wine list...


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