The last horse finally crosses the finish line! As we conclude our OC dive bar hunt, the north corner of the orange curtain contains a few noteworthy watering holes within its borders. Before you decide to burn a tank of gas getting to LA, don't forget the gloriously grimy crevices lurking between La Habra and Fountain Valley. This region in particular proves to be identity litmus test for the local OC lush. So pull up a stool (wipe it off first!) and get your tab money ready. Here are your top five dives for north Orange County!
5.The Salty Dawg (Orange)
A glorified man cave that occasionally lets the cool women into the club. The small joint features nine flat screens all showcasing much-needed testerone activities like sports and MMA, the cook can bust out a mean burger and beer and the girls, well, the girls can just stand there and look pretty …wearing next to nothing. It is a bikini bar, so unless you are planning on an evening loosely based around "The Graduate" date scene, don't bring your lady. Although there is no live music here, the food and booze have a right to claim this hole in the wall as a mini-Cheers. Everyone did know my name by the time I left and there wasn't a bad vibe about the place, despite the fact it's behind warehouses and seedy-looking auto shops. Give it a shot!
Ladies Beware: If you bring your man, cute bartenders…wearing almost nothing.
4. Sunset Lounge (Fullerton)
In need of a less-than-fancy karaoke fix? This is your spot. Though the crowd of buzzed regulars probably won't intimidate you, their song selection might. Sunset Lounge offers a humongous selection of tracks you didn't even know could be karaoked.This divey tradition usually kicks off at the Lounge Wednesdays through Sundays starting at 9:30 p.m. If you chose the classic 'Don't Stop Believin,' you might be boo-ed.
"We maintain a good crowd, it's an eclectic crowd," said Bartender Jennifer Keefer. "It's the customers that make this bar." Hats off to the dude who had the guts to mimic Robert Plant's vocals in "Whole Lotta Love." You nailed it!
Ladies Beware: Drunk hobos lurking in the alleyway, college kids' left-over liquid courage as they excitedly get behind the wheel.
3.Johnny's Saloon (Huntington Beach)
Perhaps one of the darkest spots on the border of Central and North Orange County, your nose should immediately pick up a whiskey and B.O. scent as you cross the threshold of the infamous punk bar. Bras of all color, shape and size deck the bar, leather couches don tears made by studded jeans. The jukebox blares only punk, punk and the occasional rockabilly track through speakers loud enough to make your ear drums bleed. This, my friends, is a dive with a clear and present message: Drown all sorrows in whiskey and deafness to all who enter here. I swear I didn't drink, but somehow when I left, I had a splitting headache and smelled like whiskey.
Ladies Beware: You know that wide variety of Bath and Body Works lotion in the ladies bathroom? If a guy smells like anything sugary or floral, run. Oh yeah…and the free Jameson shots. They are a no-no.
2.Juke Joint (Anaheim)
Like the grungy, punk and rockabilly scene? Are you a Texas-transplant and want to feel at home? Try this beloved punk/rockabilly bar out. Although we are kind of biased, as we voted this bar the #1 punk bar in OC in 2011, we stand by our word and will tack on another label as one of the best dive bars in North Orange County.
"It's the place in Anaheim you feel at home no matter who you are," said Bartender Kenny Cloutier. "Bands like Cashed Out, Chop Tops, Agent Orange and Three Bad Jacks play here." If whiffs of beer and weed don't smack your nasal cavities the second you walk through the doors and you're not immediately bombarded with posters of Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and Elvis, then you're in the wrong spot.
Ladies Beware: Greaser hairdos, punkers, rockabilly/ psychobilly folk and cute bartenders offering free shots (it's a trap!)
1. Tropics Lounge (Fullerton)
Built on two double-wide trailers, Tropics Lounge is the second oldest bar in Fullerton, next to the Continental Room. The small but mighty scene for seedy-types to lurk, drink and even take in some tunes on their microscopic stage.
"A lot of bands have played here," said Bartender Deeanna Tafolla. "Sublime did a surprise show here back in the day." If you're looking to absorb the ultimate north OC dive bar experience in one foul swoop, Tropics Lounge is the spot. Dark interiors, a single pool table and bathrooms with toilets you want to use your foot to flush with is a great place to watch local bands rock the trailers, mingle with the locals and wet your whistle. If you get bored at the bar, you'll notice the ceiling is decorated with beer bottle caps in the shape of random pictures. Skateboards, cats, initials and other random shit are ingrained to the red stucco along with loads of skate decks from the local skate shop across the street.
Ladies Beware: Besides an unsteady floor (I don't recommend heels), skater boys and hipsters who smoke too much.