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Best Dive Bars In Orange County

April 11, 2013 6:00 AM

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(credit: Goat Hill Tavern)

(credit: Goat Hill Tavern)

(credit: Goat Hill Tavern)

(credit: Goat Hill Tavern)

Think Orange County is all about glitzy clubs, expensive shoes and boob and nose jobs? Think again. These dive bars could show you the seedy underbelly of South County — and a really great time.

(credit: Goat Hill Tavern)

(credit: Goat Hill Tavern)

Goat Hill Tavern

1830 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 548-8428

What do you mean, peanut shells strewn all over the floor isn’t classy? There could be more to say about the Goat Hill Tavern — that the décor is geographically inspired (street signs everywhere!), the crowd is fun, young and almost everyone is in T-shirts, cargo pants and flip-flops (be prepared to get ID’ed), the beer list tops all dives (out of 140 beers, I’ll take a Hefeweizen in a tall glass, thanks), there are three pool tables and two shuffleboard tables — but why bother? It’s already everything what you want a dive bar to be.

(credit: Blackie's By The Sea)

(credit: Blackie’s By The Sea)

Blackie’s by the Sea

2118 W Oceanfront
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 675-1074

You’re not a Newport Beach local until you’ve been to Blackie’s By The Sea, which has existed since 1953 (when the beach was just a summer destination). The beach/surf spot was actually named after the bar (i.e., Blackie’s beach), because locals used the building as a landmark from the water. If you’re up for a cold one (and they have a thermometer above the door that tells you how cold their beer on tap is), and you’re looking for an authentic, historical beach city bar, head over to Blackie’s. Just don’t hit a surfboard hanging from all the ceiling.

(credit: Mugs Away Saloon)

(credit: Mugs Away Saloon)

Mugs Away Saloon

27324 Camino Capistrano
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
(949) 582-9716

Probably the diviest bar in hoity toity Laguna Niguel, this is where you can get a sob story heard at the bar. Catering to an older set, it may not be the most diverse crowd in OC (hey, it’s Laguna Niguel, what do you expect?) but local bands who play there regularly know how to rock and roll and they celebrate the annual Mooning of the Amtrak (aka Mooning of the Train). Held along the fence outside the Saloon every year on the second Saturday of July, people bare their behinds along the fence as the trains pass by. It’s gotten so huge that the street is lined with vendors, party RVs and hundreds of people partying for beads, holding a wet T-shirt contest or wading in blow-up pools.

(credit: Baja Sharkeez)

(credit: Baja Sharkeez)

Baja Sharkeez

211 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 960-5282

So it’s not your typical dive, and it’s a chain. But you know why Sharkeez is a good dive? Because people who like to party, drink and hang out by the beach go there, giving it a perpetual college dorm-room vibe. So while it may not be the place to bring a date, it’s definitely one of the dives you can go to that will cheer you up.

(credit: The Fling)

(credit: The Fling)

The Fling

2370 N Tustin Ave Ste D
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 547-8972

Why is this possibly the coolest dive bar in OC ever? Maybe because it fulfills every expectation you have of a dive — it’s dimly lit, it’s small, you get the basic necessities (beer and stiff mixed drinks), and interesting characters abound. Low expectations mean it’s the best place for unwinding after a crazy night clubbing. Open from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day, bands play live music every night starting at 9 p.m.

Lilledeshan Bose only hangs out in dive bars. Follow her @lillitot and check out the rest of her work on lilledeshan.com.

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