Talked to the ex-girlfriend recently, and I ensured we'll never speak again after I belittled her Santa Fe, New Mexico, dining choices. See, I'm a teetotaler (save for the occasional Cuba Libre—and that's only in honor of the revolución to come), and most of the restaurants she mentioned involved margaritas. But the ex's recommendations did remind me that most of ustedes like some wine or beer to go with that meal. Following, then, is a list of booze barns reviewed by various Weeklings over the years. Enjoy your cirrhosis!
DINNER FOR TWO: ¢…….………………..…..Less than $10! $……………….…….…………..$10-$20 $$…………….……….…………$20-$40 $$$………………………¡Eres muy rico! ANTHILL PUB
The UC Irvine grad students who run this place buy a buttload of beer. They buy stouts and ales, pales and darks, apricot this and wheat that. Everything from your Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye to your Lost Coast Downtown Brown to your Brasserie Huyghe-Melle Delirium Tremens, which we believe is illegal, to your North Coast Pranqster 2X Belgian, which we know is illegal. 4200 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 824-3050. $
Part fraternity, part bakery, part miniature brewery, Brewbakers is as much a bonding experience as an eating establishment, a gustatory amusement park in the midst of chain-heavy Huntington Beach. While the personal beer-making process is the main attraction, owner Dennis Midden maintains that baking is his first love, and a chomp through his pretzels—chewy loops with a perfect crustiness and enough salt to enhance the taste but not cover it—confirms it. 7242 Heil Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 596-5506; www.brewbakers1.com. $$
CAFÉ TU TU TANGO
Tu Tu Tango's spaghetti-squash-colored walls are splashed floor to ceiling with the most fabulous garage-sale art depicting baseball players and pretty blossoms. But the real attraction here is the meat market that passes by the patio, where you can nurse that Corona while ogling at the maddening Block crowd. The Block at Orange, 20 City Blvd. W., Orange, (714) 769-2222; www.cafetututango.com. $$
EVA'S CARIBBEAN KITCHEN
Eva's occupies the same simple cottage that the dearly missed Drew's Caribbean Kitchen rented for many years. The best remnant from the Drew's days is an open kitchen that continues to flambé and sauté a cruise-ship tour of Caribbean cuisine, with stops for moist Bahamian conch fritters, a sweet St. Martin-style salad and enough varieties of rum to give Captain Morgan cirrhosis. 31732 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-6311; www.evascaribbeankitchen.com. $$
FRENCH 75 BISTRO AND CHAMPAGNE BAR
The most beautiful bar in Orange County—with prices to match. The resonant thunk of champagne corks popping will be the only competition for the jazz piano as you savor the basil-fed escargot and langoustines with Black Forest ham swimming in herb-garlic butter. 1464 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-8444. $$$
"In Dublin's fair city/Where the girls are so pretty . . ." If you don't sing this refrain at some point during your Gallagher's stay, then you haven't had enough Guinness to go along with the pub's famed fish and chips, Icelandic cod coated with real made-from-beer batter and served amid skin-on steak fries made from real potatoes. 113 Walnut St., Huntington Beach, (714) 536-2422; www.gallagherspub.com. $
HI-TIME WINE CELLAR
Not sure if there's a restaurant in OC that sells it, but the best wine since the days of Dionysus is Commandaria St. John, an elixir from Cyprus that's reputed to be the oldest vintage in the world. Hi-Time Wine Cellar also stocks nearly every other hooch on the planet. 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa, (800) 331-3005. www.hitimewine.com. $-$$$
KARL STRAUSS BREWERY
You can excuse most patrons of this Costa Mesa restaurant if all they concentrate on is being hammered heavenly. After all, Karl Strauss brewing process is so refined it could probably make a fine lager out of Santa Ana River water. But to obsess over their brews does disservice to their smoky steaks, surprisingly tasteful salads, and magnificent hoagies. 901-A South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-BREW; www.karlstrauss.com. $$
NEWPORT BEACH BREWING CO.
Sure, they serve food, but you came for the beer, right? The monthly beer-tasting seminars? The special homebrew, fermented on the premises? No? Well, move right on along. 2920 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-8449; www.nbbrewco.com. $$
Olde Ship Pub & Restaurant
As authentic a British pub as you'll find anywhere in the county, with no surprises on the menu for anyone who has ever set foot inside a pub: fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, Cornish pasty, and Scottish bridie. And beer. Lots of it. 709 N. Harbor, Fullerton, (714) 871-7447; 1120 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-6700; www.theoldeship.com. $$
ROCK BOTTOM RESTAURANT AND BREWERY
At Rock Bottom, you can chow down on Texas fire steak, Mrs. Chow's sizzling shrimp salad or tuna chop, and chase it with homebrewed ale. And you'll need the ale—Larry Agran's slate went through, meaning ethics just died in Irvine. 71 Fortune Dr., Ste 924, Irvine, (949) 453-0777; www.rockbottom.com. $$
Fish and chips are the name of the game here: triangular-shaped pieces of fish fried to a dark brown, and the steak fries are the same. As for the regular viewings of Notre Dame football, the way the Golden Domers are doing this year, you'll down the fine beer here almost as quickly as Notre Dame plummets into mid-college oblivion. 10201 Slater Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 963-2718; www.silkysullivans.com. $
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TAPS FISH HOUSE & BREWERY
Located in the desperately fine-dining-deficient Brea, this place has everything—from steaks, chicken and pastas to an immense oyster bar and many brewed-right-here beers. Gorge yourself with abandon on such appetizers as tropical-shrimp quesadillas or French Quarter egg rolls. 101 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 257-0101; www.tapsbrea.com. $$
The yard house
An überbrewpub/restaurant boasting 180 taps of brew with some good European pilsners and Anchor Steam. This is good news given the long lines. If you can wait the wait, drink the beer and eat the steak. You'll be happy. Triangle Square, 1875 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0090; Irvine Spectrum, 71 Fortune Dr., Irvine, (949) 753-9373; 401 Shoreline Village Dr., Long Beach, (562) 628-0455; www.yardhouse.com. $$