While it’s always a treat to sidle up to a gleaming mahogany bar and order a ten-year-old Talisker, there’s also something to be said for pounding boilermakers in a seedy basement while Rage Against the Machine blasts from the jukebox. In this article, the OC Helper picks some of our favorite dive bars, Orange County. Has everybody had your tetanus shots?
We start with The Fling, on North Tustin Avenue in Santa Ana. They’re open until two every night of the week, and they have live music almost every night, mostly straightforward rock, but some punk and alternative occasionally too. There’s a full bar, and most people prefer the well drinks, as there are seldom beers on tap. The atmosphere is about as casual and free of pretension as one could hope for, and it’s dim and dark enough that you should be able to make out with your date without any judgment.
Next is Mission Bar, on Main Street in Santa Ana. This place is well-known and loved by the locals, and it’s everything a dive bar should be. Stools, multiple pool tables, low lighting, and a persistent smell of spilled beer and sweat. There’s a pretty decent selection of craft beers, and there’s also a happy hour from 3-6 every day with four dollar brews. There’s also the obligatory jukebox, though drunk girls playing John Mayer on repeat is probably cause for justifiable homicide after a certain point.
The Pump Room, on Chapman Avenue in Orange, is best known for its scantily-clad bartenders. There’s an internet jukebox, free popcorn, and several varieties of beer on tap. There are also pool tables that cost only fifty cents a game, which is pretty excellent. Some customers have complained of weak mixed drinks, so beer is probably your best bet. What we like best about this spot is the mixture of an older and younger crowd, but everyone seemed to be getting along, with no fights to harsh our buzz.
Our last addition to this list is Johnny’s Saloon, on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. You’ll be hearing a lot of punk rock blasting around here, and the crowd is heavily tattooed, but they’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever hope to meet. There’s also pizza available for purchase to soak up the beer in your stomach, and this is better pizza than you’re likely to find at most actual restaurants, let alone a dive bar. The vibe here is more cozy than crazy, even on Friday and Saturday nights.
That’s going to be it for our list. The best thing about dive bars is that there are always new ones popping up, vying for our attention. We hope that these four stick around, though. They’re neighborhood institutions and an enjoyable way to spend to spend a night out, forgetting your cares while bellowing out the lyrics to your favorite songs.