The worst bar experience may be different for each person, but an excess of loud music, cramped spaces and lack of charm can turn off even the most casual bar hopper. Lounge bars cater to those with a discerning taste, giving people the room to sit and talk while enjoying a drink or bite to eat. Some lounges offer live tunes or a DJ, others have jukeboxes and a hip crowd. These bars have enough going on from the food, to the drinks, to the staff to ensure a no-frills adventure into a relaxing night on the town.
400 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
The Crosby can top a lot of “Best Of” Orange County discussions for its fabulous food and fantastic environment. But the vibe crafted at The Crosby is unlike anything else around and washes a relaxing air over the crowd. Live music doesn’t start until late, but stick around if you want to catch a glimpse of local heroes and worldwide acts, all under a small roof. The smooth staff and even smoother crowd makes for one of the top lounge bars in the county.
843 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Detroit Bar is the musical standout of the bunch, featuring huge acts several nights a week in the corner of Costa Mesa. When live music isn’t dominating the crowd, the slick booths, low lighting and excellent drinks are the superstars. Its Fireside Lounge has a few pool tables and a buffet, something for you and the gang to enjoy during your happy hour. What was a once a 20th century punk club is now a transformative lounge bar, perfect for the not-too-trendy crowd and just not hipster enough for the punks. While a band might bring you in, stay for the drinks and the crowd.
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891 Baker St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Kitsch is so lounge that it doesn’t even have a sign letting you know where you are. The bouncer outside during the weekends might give it away, but the dark room and comfy seats make you want to order a whiskey before you even sit down. Take your turn at trivia on Tuesday nights and prove your knowledge to fellow barflies before winning some free alcohol. With a happy hour that starts at two bucks and stays cheap, your bank account will be lounging by the night’s end.
The Continental Room
115 W. Santa Fe Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
Live music, no cover and a picture of Elvis on its Facebook page: what’s not to love about The Continental Room? This classy little joint in Fullerton is home to a few themed nights, from Elvis night on Wednesdays to Fat Lace Fridays, where the music is all old-school hip-hop and soul. The bartenders know a huge variety of drinks and will make you something classy on the spot instead of reaching for the nearest bottle of whatever is available.
2920 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Another establishment interested in live music, Memphis Cafe in either Santa Ana or Costa Mesa is for you and your fellow lounge lizards. The dining room looks like it was ripped straight from “The Shining,” with blonde-wood tables and a 70′s decor. Live music and DJs fill up the night, but great food and a cozy environment carry on throughout the day. Sometimes you are just looking for a little country in your rock and roll and that’s where Memphis Cafe comes in, especially if you want a mix of upscale dining with laid-back vibes.
Jesse Seilhan is a writer, editor and photographer from the California Bay Area. After moving to Long Beach, Jesse continues his passion for writing and music by covering concerts, interviewing top artists, and giving a dose of wisdom in a crazy, mixed-up musical world. His work can be found at Examiner.com.