BARS & CLUBS

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Posted October 4, 2012 in Feature Story

BEST BAR HOPPING/PUB CRAWLING AREA

Downtown Riverside

Downtown Riverside has the party vibe only a college town can provide. Whether you start off at Worthington’s and end up at Lake Alice . .  or maybe Arts is your starting point before you enjoy some fancy-pants nightcaps at The Presidential Lounge? In any case, a place that has this many bars, pubs, taverns and hooch purveyors within walking (and partying) distance deserves some kind of medal. (J.D.)

www.riversidedowntown.org.

 

BEST BREWERY

Hangar 24

If you like beer then a pilgrimage to a real operating brewery should really be in your future. Head to Redlands and you can find one worth visiting over at Hangar 24, a modern brewery featuring guided tours, original house beers and a tasting room for anyone who wants to see where that cold, bubbly liquid heaven comes from. For those who like to rock, live music can be found at the Hangar 24 Patio. (J.D.)

1710 Sessum Dr., (909) 389-1400; www.hangar24brewery.com.

 

BEST CLUB

The Vibe Bar and Grill

The Vibe Bar and Grill—located just a short jaunt from UC Riverside—is well worth venturing to if you like to drink, dance and enjoy the finest offering from local and up-and-coming rockers, rappers and everyone in between. The Vibe is also home to The Common Ground, a hip-hop community showcase that dares all comers to get ready to spit with the best of ’em. Along with the live tunes, there’s plenty of eats and yeasty drinks to keep thirsty people in check. (J.D.)

1805 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 205-8844, www.thevibebarandgrill.net.

 

BEST COCKTAIL BAR

Galli’s

Galli’s is a classic cocktail bar that combines handcrafted libations with tantalizing Italian food and swank live music, usually cool jazz and fine blues. Affordable but sophisticated, this is where you take that date you want to impress. You can check out its website to find out what band is playing and when, or to peruse the menu to whet your appetite for later. It also provides catering if you want to party in style. (J.D.)

6620 Carnelian St., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 941-1100; www.gallis.net.

 

BEST COUNTRY BAR

The Brandin‘ Iron Saloon & Dance Hall

The Brandin‘ Iron Saloon & Dance Hall has all the country and western your achin‘ heart has been yearnin‘ for. With a dance floor the size of Texas and a dining area called “Cattleman’s Kitchen” you know what you are in for when you venture here. Cowboy boots and hats are suggested, but don’t feel like you have to wear your Brad Paisley best to coast over here and party at a nightclub, old-west style. (J.D.)

320 S. E St., San Bernardino, (909) 888-7388; www.brandinironsaloon.com.

 

BEST DIVE BAR

Club Hi Brow

Club Hi Brow in Upland has everything you want in a neighborhood bar, minus the pretensions or costly frills of other establishments. There’s a jukebox, some pool tables and large televisions for watching sports. There is no happy hour here, but prices are affordable and the specials are worth it. If you are sick of poseurs go where the people are real and the beer is as good as the music is loud. (J.D.)

925 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland, (909) 982-9000; www.hibrowsportsbars.com.

 

BEST GASTROPUB

The Salted Pig

A gastropub better have great, and great food. Take away one of those and it’s something else entirely. Rest assured that The Salted Pig in Riverside (also known as, “the pig”) has luxury burgers, diamond-quality pork and liquor served with professional flair. Fresh food manufactured in-house is its promise, and the integrity comes with reasonable prices. Its commendable menu is seasonal, so check its site for specials. (J.D.)

3700 12th St., Riverside, (951) 848-4020; www.saltedpigriverside.com.

 

BEST GAY/LESBIAN BAR

Oasis Night Club

Google “gay bars” in Southern California and the first one that pops up on the list is Oasis, an Upland venue known for great dancing and affordable drinks, and where all humans—including straight—are treated with a modicum of respect . . . as long as they all hail Gaga. Five solid nights of fun are packed into this compact hall, from go-go dancers mid-week to the crème de la crème of LGBT competitions: Drag Idol on Sundays! (N.P.)

1386 E. Foothill Blvd., Ste. H, Upland, (909) 920-9590; www.oasisnightclubupland.com.

 

BEST HOOKAH LOUNGE

Velvet Room

Good people, comfortable vibe, clubby décor and velvet-lined walls set to the beat of hip-hop and electro mixes make the Velvet Room a trendy place in which to chill and call home after a long day of stress. The Velvet Room also offers a nice selection of flavored inhalants with specials littered throughout the week to make blowing a few bucks here during happy hour much more palatable than blowing a dozen at the neighborhood bar. (N.P.)

Velvet Room, 4323 Mills Cir., Ste. 108, Ontario, (909) 989-6161; www.facebook.com/velvetroom909.

 

BEST KARAOKE BAR

Duke’s in Riverside

With its proximity to UC Riverside and reasonable prices, the recently-refurbished Duke’s is one of the best spots to hang out and sing karaoke in the IE. Blue-collar to the bone, there’s plenty of bar grub here at bar grub prices—but karaoke’s the thing here, with at least one sing-along “KJ” every night. So whether or not you need Auto-Tune, your vocal cords will do your justice here as soon as they put the mic in your hands. (R.K.)

3221 Iowa Ave, Riverside, (951) 248-1143.
 

BEST MARTINI BAR

The Vault

If you’re going to go for the $2 dollar drinks on Tuesday night, you better go early and plan on waiting—it’s that popular. While you’re sipping that wonderful marriage of gin and vermouth (What will you have tonight? The Blueberry Martini? Maybe the Sour Apple Martini will catch your fancy?), why not enjoy it—and a nice fall evening—on The Vault’s patio. We personally love the old brick wall feel outside and the cool vibes throughout. The Vault, keep doing what you’re doing. (R.K.)

20 E. Vine St., Redlands, CA, (909) 798-2399; www.facebook.com/thevaultmartinibar
 

BEST PICKUP BAR

Redlands Underground

Proudly trumpeting that it really is six feet under, the basement bar features entertainers that go seemingly six feet above the floor, namely the pole-dancers competing in the nightspots’ contests. There are also less provocative entertainment options—live bands (Joan Baez played some her earliest gigs here) and karaoke, all surrounded by Redland’s picturesque downtown. (R.K.)

19 E. Citrus Ave., Ste. 103, Redlands, (909) 798-1500; www.redlandsunderground.com.

 

BEST PUB

Liam’s Irish Pub

You may be saying, “another Irish pub?” But you’ll stop all that blithering after a night at Liam’s. It’s casual and feels dive-y, without ever feeling cheap or sad. So let’s quickly go through the requirements for an awesome bar: outdoor patio for secret smokes and intimate conversations? Check. Nights with great local bands and other nights where you can just chill? Check. Great bartenders and cheap hooch? Yeah, Liam’s does it right. (B.G.)

1087 S. Mt Vernon Ave., Colton, (909) 422-9900; www.myspace.com/liamsIrishpubcolton

 

BEST ROCK BAR

Lake Alice Trading Co.

Reports of the death of rock are premature—rock lives on at Lake Alice in downtown Riverside. This place has been around—at least one member of your family has likely gotten blotto here—and Lake Alice’s commitment to great live music continues today. Friday and Saturdays feature great cover bands from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and it even has great football and breakfast deals on Sunday if you’re feeling a need to hunker down the next day. (B.G.)

3616 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 686-7343; www.lakealicetradingco.com.

 

BEST SMOKING BAR

Mission Tobacco Lounge

Born out of the cigar aficionado craze of the ’90s, the Mission Tobacco Lounge (or MTL) initially focused heavily on all things stogie-related. But these days the lounge is still smoking because of the plenty of other amenities it offers patrons. Sure, this is still a great place to light up and discuss cigars, but it’s got hip bands in a cool setting, live comedy shows and a nice bar. Sounds like firsthand fun to us. (B.G.)

3630 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 682-4427; www.missiontobaccolounge.com.

 

BEST SPORTS BAR

SportsWatch Bar & Grill

A sport’s fan’s first trip to SportsWatch threatens to overwhelm the senses. There are so many televisions (even in the bathroom) and so much sports memorabilia that the average fan can experience palpitations. This is the sports bar that nails it perfectly—it’s got a ton of screens but they’re set up intelligently, as well as a great bar that features over a hundred beers on tap, a great service staff and food that’ll impress foodies. Sunday and Monday nights during football seasons take the SportsWatch experience to an eleven . . . especially if the Raiders are playing. (B.G.)

27961 Highland Ave., Highland, (909) 280-3250 www.sportswatchbarandgrill.com.

 

BEST STRIP CLUB

Spearmint Rhino

When a man is in his 20s any old strip club will do. But as he matures, he asks for a little more from his gentleman’s club. Spearmint Rhino is what the discerning man is looking for: au naturel ladies in a place that is clean, safe—and where adult film stars are known to make very special appearances at. So whether your gentleman’s weakness is a topless, nude or “fantasy” dance, Spearmint’s got you covered every day of the week. Be prepared to buy a lot of sodas, boys. It’s worth it. (B.G.)

312 S. Riverside Ave., Rialto, (909) 873-2257; www.spearmintrhino.com/rialto.html

 

BEST TEQUILA BAR

Vive

An entire bar and club devoted to the love of tequila might have been unthinkable 10 years ago, but we live in the age of agave now. And the temple of tequila in the IE is clearly Vive in Pomona. It’s got a hundred different premium tequilas ready to pour, along with signature cocktails, and every 90 minutes the bartenders get all Tom Cruise in Cocktail and put on a show. For those with some baile on their mind the club is going off, too. (B.G.)

184 W. Third St., Pomona, (909) 622-2020; www.vivelounge.com.

 

BEST WINE BAR/WINERY

Falkner Winery

Most of us have gotten the memo that there are scads of wineries in Temecula, of varying qualities. The Falkner winery stands at the top of the heap. Ray and Loretta Falkner opened Falkner in July 2000 due to their love of the vino. The love shows at Falkner, which sits 1,500 feet over the valley and features some not only amazing wines but also an award winning restaurant (Pinnacle) as well as occasional musical performances like free jazz on Sunday afternoons. (B.G.)

40620 Calle Contento, Temecula, (951) 676-8231; www.falknerwinery.com.


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