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Take a Dive

Written By: Nicole Fera

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to get dressed up in those fancy heels that you can barely walk in or the expensive jumpsuit that will take you a week to pay off. However, there’s nothing like heading to a local dive bar for a carefree, laid-back night on the town. Dive bars are such a staple in the world of drinking and are some of my favorite places to visit on any given night of the week. It can be hard to find a spot where you can enjoy a $5 cocktail, a game of pool and some live music. Don’t worry though, we’ve done the hard part for you and narrowed it down to the cream of the crop in South Orange County. So throw on a pair of your favorite jeans, a t-shirt and you’re ready for any of these awesome dives.

Turk’s Restaurant

Turk’s is the perfect place to kick off our list of amazing dive bars in South County because it has everything that you should look for in a dive. The walls are covered with old memories, photographs, and awesome sailor décor. They pour a stiff, reasonably priced drink, and their food is on point. Turk’s is known for their burgers, not to mention all of the fun and booze you’ll find there. The usual crowd consists primarily of locals who live and work on the nearby boats as it is located near the harbor. Turk’s offers a laid-back, and welcoming environment. Grab a spot on the patio to watch the sunset, order a cold brew, and live like a local. You won’t be disappointed by anything at this spot.

34683 Golden Lantern St
Dana Point, CA 92629


Patsy’s Irish Pub

Not only is Patsy’s an awesome bar to check out, but it might also be one of the largest bars you’ll order from. The actual bar in this pub is 95 feet long, meaning there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to find a spot whenever you decide to pop in for a drink and some grub. The whole idea of this spot is to have guests feel like they’ve traveled to Ireland for the evening because Patsy’s is a good representation of what they would find there. The atmosphere is casual, the staff is friendly, and the beer selection is plentiful. They also have some pretty amazing food available as well, which is always a bonus when searching for your next dive bar. After a few drinks and when hunger sets in, it’s nice to be able to munch on something that’s amazing. Try a dish off of their Traditional Irish Specialties Menu, like Jono’s Potato Cakes complete with applesauce and sour cream. Get a full stomach and fully into the Irish culture at this awesome dive.

28971 Golden Lantern St #108
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677


Swallow’s Inn

The Swallow’s Inn is the perfect dive for all the country fans out there—or anyone looking to get down with the South for a night. This hot spot is a small, quaint, wooden bar that pours some good, strong drinks and is proud of its country roots. They also have live bands playing almost every night of the week, including a lot of local acts. Even if you’re not a huge country fan, this place will have you reconsidering after a couple beers and a few rounds of shots. The nice thing about The Swallow’s Inn is that it’s so unique to the area. It’ll either have you feeling at home if you have rural roots, or experiencing something brand new if you happen to be an urbaner, like me. Either way, this place is a blast, and anywhere with live music is A-OK in my book.

31786 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675


Ole’s Tavern

Ole’s Tavern is the next spot on the list and the perfect location for the sports fanatics out there. Owners Mark Secora and Greg LeRoy took over this old bar in 1994 and turned it into one of the best places to watch any sporting event day or night. However, they are originally from Wisconsin, so be careful if you are walking in there sporting any Charger’s, Raider’s or Niner’s gear. While cheering for your team, enjoy a game of pool, darts, trivia or any of their other games that are available to play. Ole’s also offers free tacos on Tuesday nights with your drink purchase from 5–7 p.m. as well. A bar where you can catch a good game, kick someone’s butt in a game of pool, and enjoy some free food is a win for me!

127 S El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672


Garman’s Restaurant & Pub

Garman’s is the dive on this list that I would compare the closest to “Cheers.” Who doesn’t want a “Cheers” of their very own? They pride themselves on being a local hangout where you can pop in to meet up with old friends or get to know some new ones. Spots like these are always crucial to the neighborhood, and Mission Viejo is lucky to have Garman’s as their own. Not only is there a great atmosphere, but they serve up some great drinks and delicious food as well. They have a full menu, including their awesome breakfast menu, pub grub, lunch specials and a huge selection of classics that they serve regularly. The next time you’re in the area, make sure to stop in for a couple drinks. You’ll be sure to leave feeling happy, full, and possibly with a few more friends on your speed dial.

27567 Puerta Real
Mission Viejo, CA 92691


The Sandpiper Lounge

The Sandpiper Lounge is a hidden gem in Laguna Beach, located amongst some pretty posh places in the area. One of the things that make this dive so amazing is that, despite the area, this place has remained the same since it opened in the 1950s. They pour a mean drink, their décor is simple, and they offer live music many nights throughout the week. The Sandpiper is a place where the dive bar lover’s dream comes true, especially since it’s the only one of its kind in the area. The crowds of people who flock to The Sandpiper come for the friendly environment where they and their friends can enjoy themselves with a simple pint. It’s such a bonus that they get to jam to some good music and have a tab that’s under $300 at the end of the night. See, it is possible in Laguna Beach!

1183 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Marine Room Tavern

The Marine Room Tavern is all about the live music. This bar is has a relaxed environment, has been there forever, plays up their fondness for whiskey, and is a local favorite. The atmosphere and décor are awesome as well, it’s upscale as far as dives go to be honest. However, that doesn’t mean they stick their nose in the air to fellow dives. This hot spot draws in people from all walks of life wanting to hear some good tunes and grab a quality drink. They have a full bar to enjoy, so stop in on any night of the week to see what all the locals love about this Laguna oasis.

214 Ocean Ave
Laguna Beach, CA 92651