Karaoke is a lost art, perfected by those willing to let themselves go in front of total strangers. If you’re feeling adventurous, but are not sure where to start your journey as the next American Idol, give this list a look-see for the type of locale that caters to your musical tastes, not to mention your alcohol and food preferences.
12911 Main St.
Garden Grove, CA 92840
The owner of Azteca drew his inspiration for his bar straight from The King himself. With an entire room dedicated to Elvis, Azteca in Garden Grove takes its crooning seriously. After the kitchen closes, the karaoke begins at 10pm on Fridays and 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and that’s when this Garden Grove hotspot becomes filled to the brim with aspiring (or highly inebriated) local singers. The staff even gets involved with the shenanigans and sometimes jumps on stage to help out newbies who may be on the shy side or to fill time between acts. Add in cheap domestic beer and you have got yourself a karaoke winner in Azteca.
Linbrook Bowling Center
201 South Brookhurst
Anaheim, CA 92804
Very few places have karaoke every single night of the week, but Linbrook Bowl is not like any other place in Orange County. Whether you need to take a break from arcade gaming or your bowling arm could use a rest, karaoke provides the perfect activity at this Anaheim bowling spot. Held in Linbrook’s “Kopa Room,” the friendly Karaoke DJs (or KJ’s, as those in-the-know would say) will get your guard down before you have to muster up enough gusto to belt out your favorite middle school ballad. Sports fans who need a rest in between songs or who are just there for moral support of their fellow bowlers can enjoy NFL and MLB games in between sets on one of the Kopa Room’s four big screens. This night owl’s haven is open 24/7, but karaoke kicks off at 8:30pm nightly and lasts until the wee hours of the morning.
Ziller Karaoke & Bar
1050 West Valencia Drive
Fullerton, CA 92833
With an insanely stocked liquor cabinet and a penchant for Asian pop songs, Ziller’s may be an acquired taste. This Fullerton bar takes its karaoke very seriously, so a reservation on Friday and Saturday nights is a must. Be sure to ask for song list in English if you can’t read Korean or you will literally be singing a different tune than the rest of the patrons. A great sound system, retro vibe and private rooms for friends and family make this spot a top notch destination.
Patsy’s Irish Pub
28971 Golden Lantern Blvd
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Now in its 28th year of existence, this bar does double duty as both an authentic Irish pub and a karaoke gem. With a location in Laguna Niguel and a second one in Mission Viejo, Patsy’s is stocked with a big enough dance floor for you and your whole neighborhood to belt out “Wild Horses.” Karaoke starts at 9:30 p.m. and runs nightly every Wednesday through Saturday, and Patsy’s has you covered with dance tunes in between amateur singers. The pub’s various KJs sometimes even add live instruments to the mix, giving patrons an extra, unique layer of karaoke fun to the experience.
2915 Redhill Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
The second Irish pub on this list one-ups its brethren with a deeper songbook and a dedicated “karaoke guy.” KJ Kevin Cable has won multiple awards for his skills, including “Karaoke Host of the Year” a few times over. Karaoke starts at 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, but singers beware: this is another destination where a reservation is a near-requirement for larger parties. If you’re interested in hearing someone with more experienced vocal cords, stop by the pub on Thursday nights between 7 and 9 p.m. to hear live Irish music from performer Mike Kelly of the Sligo Rags. With a manly beer list, a respectable happy hour, and a 21+ crowd that harbors no fears of looking foolish while on stage, Durty Nelly’s has it all.
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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.