Food & Drink

The 16 best bars in the North OC

Published On 02/04/2014 Published On 02/04/2014
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1. HopScotch 136 E Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832

Microbrews and whiskey drinks are what's on tap at this American pub in Fullerton. They've set up shop in an old train depot and the vintage Americana vibe extends to the menu: think elevated comfort food classics with a twist. If your'e dining in, this resto has one simple rule: draw a chalk outline of a whiskey bottle and jump one-legged to the bar. Bottoms up!

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2. Bootlegger's Brewery 130 S Highland Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832

Downtown Fullerton's Bootlegger's Brewery began as a small seven-barrel warehouse in 2008 before becoming one of the largest breweries in Orange County. Its craft beer selection includes year-round staples and seasonals, like the crowd fave Golden Chaos, a Belgian golden ale that's brewed with rock candy. Brewery tours are available by appointment only, but you can get beer by the pint or glass -- and get a case or keg to-go -- at the outdoor tasting room.

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3. The Cellar Restaurant 305 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832

This modern European gastropub is a classy option for sipping great brews and eating fancy (and delicious) caviar.

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4. Playground DTSA 220 E Fourth St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

The Playground has a dedication to a tuned draft/bottle list of varying pour sizes at a small fixed price -- and their ever-changing menu is truly as impressive.

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5. Little Sparrow 300 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

This mixologist-laden, chef driven, matchbox-sized cafe's got a speakeasy in the back and delicious grub. Get munching on globally inspired share plates at this vintage inspired locale that's got one of the best bottomless brunch deals in town: pay only 12 smackers and you'll gain access to endless mimosas all morning long. Little Sparrow's dinner service is also worth checking out.

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6. The Bruery Tasting Room 717 Dunn Way, Placentia, CA 92870

The Bruery has more beer styles than you can imagine -- sour beers, malty beers, hoppy beers, roasty beers -- all crafted in barrels that have traces of everything from tequila and rum to bourbon and regular ol’ oak. The trick is in its arsenal of wood, which helps the brewmasters craft a seemingly endless onslaught of flavors, from the annual Black Tuesday (19% imperial stout) to the sneaky sweet Mash barleywine. There are 40 beers on tap at any given time, so get a flight and a bite -- most weekends some of OC’s best food trucks are parked outside the taproom.

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7. Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar 1150 W Magic Way, Anaheim, CA 92802

Thunder and mist fall from the ceiling. A nearby volcano spews magma into the bay outside the window. Though it's a Disneyland resort bar, Trader Sams is fully enchanted and full of island creations. Don’t freak out when the animatronic seats move!

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8. Noble Ale Works 1621 S Sinclair St, Anaheim, CA 92806

Steps from Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, Noble Ale Works is prime for game days. You can park in the brewery's lot for free, down a few of their flagship and limited edition beers (the tasting room has a selection of 20) and munch on whatever food truck speciality is on offer.

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9. Rio Vista Lounge 200 S Rio Vista St, Anaheim, CA 92806

This Anaheim bar gets as rowdy as possible, with some old-school karaoke, dirty dancing, and great brews.

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10. Hollingshead's Delicatessen 368 S Main St, Orange, CA 92868

50 years after being open, they can easily boast being the first to serve craft beer in Orange. Pickled eggs and Pliny the Elder on tap? Perfect food pairing. It’s one part deli, one part bottleshop, and one part draft list from heaven.

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11. Valiant Brewing Company 2294 N Batavia St, Orange, CA 92865

This family-owned microbrewery makes a variety of beers -- the simple year-round roster includes Belgian-styles, a double IPA, and a blonde lager. The seasonal varieties are a serious draw though, like a massive quadruple IPA that clocks in at 14% ABV. A 20-barrel system guides the whole operation and the house motto, "be valiant" keeps things honest.

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12. ARC Restaurant 3321 Hyland Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

There’s nothing quite like sipping a cocktail like their "Cigarettes and Coffee" by the glow of their wood oven. Chatting with the chefs as they prepare uncommonly sexy food is a great time on its own.

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13. Haven Gastropub and Brewery 42 De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105 (Pasadena)

HG&B's the second outpost of a semi-local gastropub mini-chain (the first one's all the way in Orange), with the new wrought-iron-chandelier and leather booth-enhanced Pasadena location doing what its sister restaurant does not: beer brewing, with a plan to roll out five varieties including an IPA, a Bavarian Hefeweizen, and and Imperial Stout, which is already clearly on the Dark Side.

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14. Beachwood BBQ & Brewing 210 E 3rd St, Long Beach, CA 90802 (Long Beach)

Beachwood's Long Beach location is perfect for relaxing after catching some surf -- get a few brews, an indulgent entree (mac and cheese, without a doubt), and kick back. Beachwood specializes in BBQ fare in a laid back, diner-style setting. Quaint midcentury modern touches take the decor one step farther and go perfectly with the "so good it must be homemade" plates.

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15. Citrus City Grille 122 N Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866 (Orange County)

This American grillery doles out awesome speciality 'tails and delicious grub by the hour. This spot is upscale casual aka it's a good choice for family outings, birthday dinners, date nights, and laid back brunches. Speaking of brunch, Citrus City's breakfast and lunch buffet is one of the better ones we've seen in a bit. There's a waffle bar, meat carving station, a seafood tower AND bottomless drinks.

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