The Vault Martini Bar & Grill
The Vault has all the right ingredients for a classic cocktail bar. The Redlands joint perfectly balances a hipster-energy with a relaxed atmosphere, and discount drink nights like $2 Tuesdays help keep the place buzzing. The Vault also entertains with live music, DJs and a great outdoor space in the alley, and the bar goes out of its way to support the art scene, starting with the emerging artist on its staff. (D.J.)
20 E. Vine St., Redlands, (909) 798-2399.
BEST GAY/LESBIAN BAR
On Valentine’s Day, the Menagerie celebrated its 30th anniversary, and it remains the longest running bar of record in the historic quarter of downtown Riverside. Opened against the backdrop of Reagan conservatism, this LGBT institution thrived with lively karaoke nights, dance parties and special events like the annual Prom Night. Never charging a cover, Menagerie today hosts several weekly bashes like Time Warp Wednesday, Struttin’ Saturdays and the Snatch Thursdays drag show with Raven from RuPaul’s Drag Race. Anyone who’s visited Menagerie knows its “FABULAUS!” (D.J.)
3581 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 788-8000; www.clubmenagerie.com.
BEST TEQUILA BAR
Vivé Tequila Lounge & Nightclub
Did spring break in Cancun swear you off tequila forever? Vivé Tequila Lounge in downtown Pomona can change that. This upscale establishment is a connoisseur’s delight where patrons prefer tasting fine agave tequila to getting sloppy-faced bombed, which might be why it discourages dudes under 25 from coming. The main lounge has more than 100 different tequilas, and bottle service ranges from $175 El Jimador Blanco to $575 Don Julio 1942, the latter being well worth the splurge. (D.J.)
184 W. 3rd St., Pomona, (909) 622 2020; www.vivelounge.com.
BEST HOOKAH BAR
Aladdin Jr. Restaurant & Cafe
The Aladdin Jr. Restaurant & Café serves flavorful Arabic fare like shawarma, kabobs, hummus and babaghanoush, but the Pomona-based establishment is particularly popular for its hookah bar. Developed many centuries ago in India, hookah water pipes are used to vaporize and smoke shisha (flavored tobacco), which is often mixed with honey molasses and dried fruit. The family-owned and -operated Aladdin Jr. has quality pipes and tasty shisha, and the staff patiently helps rookies experience the hookah tradition for the first time. (D.J.)
3161 N. Garey Ave., Pomona, (909) 593-3887; www.aladdinjrrestaurant.com.
BEST MARTINI BAR
The Vault Martini Bar & Grill
Ordering a Dirty Martinez sounds wrong for so many reasons, which may be why the Martinez cocktail changed its name to the Martini sometime in the late 1800s. While this is one of many genesis tales in the drink’s highly contested history, there is no debate that the Vault is the best martini bar in the IE. The Vault name makes the bar sound hard to get into, but it is actually an accepting place, even for guys who dare order appletinis. (D.J.)
20 E. Vine St., Redlands, (909) 798-2399.
BEST BAR-HOPPING AREA
Beautiful downtown Redlands has the greatest selection of bars along Orange Street and 5th Avenue that you can stumble between any night of the week. If you’re looking for a trendy place to hang out and sip on some inexpensive and tasty drinks, then The Boiler Room is right up your alley. If you’re more into the dive bar scene, you can throw a rock and hit The Pink Flamingo, nicknamed by some of its regulars as The Dirty Bird. Other Downtown Redlands favorites include The Vault Martini Bar & Grill, The Wine Lounge and the Royal Falconer British Pub—all of which make Downtown Redlands the best place for bar hopping in the IE. (J.S.)
Downtown Redlands, 1 State St., Redlands, (909) 798-7629; www.aboutredlands.com.
BEST BAR FOR A HOT DATE
The Vault Martini Bar
Want to impress your new lover with an inviting casual atmosphere and some strong drinks? Head over to the Vault Martini Bar & Grill located in the Fox Theater Building in historic Downtown Redlands. They have a rustic-chic outdoor seating area for you to relax while you listen to the live music that graces the venue often throughout the week. They’re also known for hosting art walks, live painting demonstrations and for their friendly bartenders. Overall, it’s the perfect spot for an alternative and fun date—and you might even get lucky at the end of the night . . . . even if that means winning the live painting raffle. (J.S.)
20 E. Vine St., Redlands, (909) 798-2399;facebook.com/thevaultmartinibar
RADDEST SUMMER HOTEL POOL PARTY
ACE Swim Club
The Ace Hotel is certainly a beautiful find in the middle of the dry desert. This 170-room spa, hotel and resort hosts DJs poolside every weekend to make for some of the hottest swim parties ever! Monthly they’re hosting a Reggae Sol night, where you can enjoy reggae, roots, dancehall and hip-hop. What has made ACE Swim Club really famous in the IE is their World Famous Pool Party that happens every month, featuring DJ and producer Alf Alpha. This party is the business—with pan-global party music and Coachella Valley Art Scene’s craft table setup catering to your poolside crafting needs. It brings swim spectacular to a whole new level of exciting. (J.S.)
701 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, (760) 325-9900; acehotel.com/palmsprings/swim-club
BEST ALL AGES VENUE
The Glass House
The Glass House could very well be one of the only venues in the Inland Empire that wrangles in the greatest bands of all time. Within the next couple months we’ll have Modest Mouse, Subhumans and The Black Dahlia Murder rolling through town at this venue. On top of that—it’s all ages. Their bar is located next door, so you can bring your little brother and his friends to see their favorite band, while you get your drink on next door, and you still have a sober ride home. It’s a perfect plan at the best all ages venue the IE has to offer. (J.S.)
200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us.
BEST COLLEGE TOWN BAR THAT’S NOT OVERRUN WITH COLLEGE KIDS
The Press Restaurant
There’s an aura surrounding the Downtown Claremont scene that makes you feel like a hipper person for just being there, and The Press in Claremont is no exception to this feeling. Don’t be alarmed that this bar is just walking distance from the prestigious Claremont Colleges—with its dark ambiance and a full bar stacked with a great selection of beer and wine, you can enjoy the live music that seems to happen every night. There’s an elegance to The Press, completed with its inventive and high-class menu that, if anything, keeps the frat boys far, far away from this place. (J.S.)
129 Harvard Ave., Claremont, (909) 625-4808; www.thepressrestaurant.com.
BEST JAZZ CLUB
The Hip Kitty
Meow! A trip to the Hip Kitty in Claremont gives you the same intimate experience as a cool cat in the swinging sixties—without the fishbowl of keys. Between the live jazz music, fantastic cocktails and assortment of tasty fondues, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time, while enjoying a surprisingly hip and modern vibe of this supper club. The open and dark retro setting will keep you relaxed, and if you prefer there is an outdoor patio with private cabanas and a fire pit. Bottle service and private parties are both available, so be sure to make reservations if you’d like to make this place your own for a night. (J.S.)
502 W. First St., Claremont, (909) 447-6700; hipkittyjazz.com.
BEST BLUES CLUB
Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
Known for hosting summer music festivals with diverse bands in an intimate setting, Pappy & Harriet’s is the best in the IE for a number of things. They dominated the category as the best blues club, because the nights they feature blues musicians, the line-ups are more than impressive. Ted Quinn’s Variety Show has been known to feature blues master guitar player Bill Medley, as well as Rojer Arnold Band—known for their blues and rock fusion. This genre of music is diverse, much like the bands that grace Pappy & Harriet’s nightly—so if you’re looking for an authentic down South atmosphere to enjoy your blues, this is the place for you. (J.S.)
53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, (760) 365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.
BEST DANCE TIL YOU DROP SPOT
Duke’s Bar & Grill
Give anyone a little liquid courage and all of a sudden they’re cutting moves on the dance floor that are beyond impressive. At Duke’s Bar & Grill in Riverside, you’ll have more than just drink specials and tasty beverages encouraging you to show off the new dances you learned on YouTube—their DJ is known to play hit songs and fills tons of requests. If you’re more into live music, they are well-known for their Karaoke Competitions seven nights a week that actually turn out some great singers. Get your groove on to the music that is bumping out of this place one way or another each and every night of the week. (J.S.)
3221 Iowa Ave., Riverside, (951) 248-1143; www.facebook.com/dukesbng.
BEST STRIP CLUB
Deja Vu Erotica Ultra Lounge
Every now and again it’s fun to go to a place where you’re encouraged to gawk at the beautiful women that surround you. Deja Vu Erotica Lounge in Redlands is the best place to do this, with talented dancers that tantalize you with their topless-only numbers on the stage. For this reason and many more, Deja Vu is known as the favorite strip club for men and women alike. This high class joint has steamy entertainment seven days a week, so whether you’re into the live performances on the large main stage or prefer to be treated to a more intimate VIP, this is the best place for you all week long. (J.S.)
1331 Colton Ave., Redlands, (909) 798-6330; www.dejavu.com.
BEST ELECTRO CLUB
340 Restaurant & Night Club
If you’re looking for a nightclub that makes you feel like you’ve stepped off the sidewalk in the Inland Empire and into the Hollywood or New York club scene, then we’ve got the place for you. This new club in Downtown Pomona is not only the best place for electronic music in the IE, it’s also the best place to enjoy some sexy male entertainment. From the gorgeous Latino male go-go dancers that dance all night to the numerous shows and events that feature of your favorite stars from Ru Paul’s Drag Race, this club is always crawling with hot and sexy fun. (J.S.)
340 S. Thomas St., Pomona, (909) 865-9340; 340nightclub.com.
BEST SPORTS BAR
The Fox Sports Bar and Grill
Need a place to go to see the best UFC fights, boxing matches and sports playoffs? The Fox Sports Bar is definitely a hot spot for the younger scene (as this bar is next door to the popular music venues The Glass House and the Fox Pomona Theater). When the fight goes down, grab a pint of Dale Bros. Brewery’s favored Pomona Queen and enjoy watching your favorite event on 25 different TVs and three huge projectors. As the late evening begins, watch as the jersey wearers leave and the classy sports aficionados enter, according to the enforced dress code rule after 9pm. (A.N.)
333 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, (909) 784-3672.
BEST DIVE BAR
The Pink Flamingo
The very definition of a dive bar is just a gritty, hidden drinking joint that’s home to a handful of regulars. More aptly referred to as “The Dirty Bird,” The Pink Flamingo is a social hangout—it’s no place for dressing to impress. Grab a decently priced drink and participate in the social sharing of recreational activities like shuffleboard, pool tables and karaoke to keep you busy. Leave your preconceived notions of expectation at the door, settle in and enjoy yourself—just remember to bring cash for your beverages. (A.N.)
340 Orange St., Redlands, (909) 792-9917.
BEST KARAOKE BAR
Priding itself as the only “subterranean” restaurant in the area (located beneath the Cope Building via some well-lit stairs) this below ground pub has cheap beer, live music, open mic nights and PG-13 pole dancing; activities that welcome the t-shirt and jeans type of bar hoppers who want to socialize with friends. However it’s the karaoke that’s rumored to be the best. With a lax atmosphere, there’s no stopping guests from belting out a semi-drunken “Don’t Stop Believing” or other cliché bar tune from a large selection of music. (A.N.)
19 E. Citrus Ave., Redlands, (909) 798-1500; www.redlandsunderground.com.
BEST WINE BAR
dba256 Gallery Wine Bar
This Pomona gem is a revered lounge bar, offering a great amount of unique live music events, DJs, art and the occasional comedy show—but folks need wine! As far as the IE is concerned, you can’t get farther from Temecula wineries than Pomona—but dba256 has a selection of over 200 great wines to choose from (and 50 beers if you’re into that). On most days dba’s atmosphere offers a relaxed experience for casual drinking needs. It’s the next best thing, if not better than driving down to snobby Temecula for selection and tasting. (A.N.)
256 S. Main St., Pomona, (909) 623-7600.
BEST NEW BAR
Downtown Riverside recently had a flux of new restaurants and bars, but none of them compare to Pixels. Previously featured on the cover of our recent Happy Hour Guide, Pixels has repeatedly proved itself in all of the best areas. Art? You can bet that the conversation will be influenced by Riverside’s arts and culture scene. Food? Expectations are high and this bar’s menu is a smorgasbord of tasty, healthy and even specialized (vegan and gluten-free) treats. Best of all of course is the great alcohol selection and some killer happy hour deals (the place is open every day until 2am for crying out loud!) (A.N.)
3535 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 683-7957; www.facebook.com/pages/Pixels.
BEST HIPSTER BAR
The Vault Martini Bar
It’s where the “cool” kids go. The Vault may be small but the place has an enclosed, homey feeling—not just because it’s a part of the historic downtown Redlands Fox Theater. Sure you might sit elbow-to-elbow while checking out the newest bands (“you’ve probably never heard of them,” says the hipster). Let your inner hipster spirit guide you in the choice from a fountain of specialty martinis and open yourself up to many unique pieces of art. There’s even an
Outdoor alley for smoking and live music. Luckily, you don’t have to identify as a hipster to have a good time here. (A.N.)
14 E. Vine St., Redlands, (909) 798-2399; www.facebook.com/thevaultmartinibar.
BEST SPEAKEASY-STYLE BAR
This bar has pulled out all of the stops when it comes to themes. ProAbition honors the sights, sounds and tastes of the prohibition era, and yet there’s no end to the flowing of drinks at ProAbition—especially the elaborate whiskey selection. The people at ProAbition are so serious that not only must employees wear a uniform that reflects the time period but there’s a strict dress code enforcing classy clothing. However, females: as of June, it’s okay to attend your evening of flapper dancing without wearing high heels. (A.N.)
3597 Main St., Riverside, (951) 222-2110; www.proabition.com.
BEST COUNTRY VENUE/BAR
The Brandin’ Iron
The Toby Keith song “I Love This Bar” and those cheap red solo cups have got nothin’ on this country joint. For over 20 years the Brandin Iron has been one of the IE’s only decent country venues. It’s been known to book hugely popular country celebs like Taylor Swift, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton—but don’t write it off as a hillbilly destination. There’s plenty of nights where the Brandin Iron becomes a hip joint with live DJs and plenty of new music. A hat and boots aren’t required, although you’re expected to dress at least a little classy. (A.N.)
320 S. “E” St., San Bernardino, (909) 888-7388; www.brandinironsaloon.com.
Steam Haus Gastropub
Corona might be a little dry when it comes to interesting restaurants, but the Steam Haus proves that the Dos Lagos shopping center has at least one really good dining option. The décor features a Victorian era steam-punk style that mixes remnants of Charlie Chaplin with an alternate, steam-run universe. Even the employees dress accordingly. Check out the bar, where an era-dressed individual will help you select the perfect brew or cocktail. However, the real charm of the place is in the menu, which offers a variety of unique dishes from light flatbread, beefy burgers and the highlight of every visit: an addicting dessert called a Sticky Little Pig. (A.N.)
2785 Cabot Dr. Suite 110, Corona, (951) 277-7500; www.steamhausgastropub.com.
BEST IRISH PUB
Liam’s Irish Pub
There’s no doubt that the “Best Irish Pub” should go to any other bar; Liam’s has done business in the IE for well over a decade and in that time, Irish and non-Irish guests alike have called it home. As the long-standing stereotype of the Irish as heavy drinkers, so too does Liam’s provide all of the alcohol needed for a good time. Many might say that Liam’s is an especially good “shot place.” Engulf an Irish Car Bomb while enjoying the pool tables, jukebox, occasional live music and a karaoke machine. Erin go bragh my friends! (A.N.)
1087 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., Colton, (909) 422-9900.
BEST BRITISH PUB
The Royal Falconer
Also dubbed “Redlands Oldest Pub,” The Royal Falconer is one of the most popular spots in the city (partying since 1999). Of course with its English specialty menu, we expect nothing less than a perfect order of fish and chips. The Falconer caters to everyone with great food, karaoke and open mic, LGBT night and live music. All the while, bartenders continually pour the rightly priced drinks on tap. It might be small but it’s the best British pub this side of the coast. (A.N.)
106 Orange St., Redlands, (909) 307-8913; www.theroyalfalconer.com.
BEST HAPPY HOUR
The Royal Falconer
It’s not just the small size of this bar that gives off a familiar Cheers atmosphere (albeit in British form). And it’s not enough to name this joint the “Best British Bar” either, with it’s delicious bangers and mash and other various British foods. The Falconer’s happy hour, which is Monday through Friday (4pm-7pm) offers a bevvy of drinks to enjoy. The bar is 14 years old so it’s had some experience in serving the best libations. The drinks are decently priced and there’s 20 draught beers on tap (and enough alcohol to create a number of cocktails). Right-o good chaps! (A.N.)
106 Orange St., Redlands, (909) 307-8913; www.theroyalfalconer.com.
BEST BEER SELECTION
There’s plenty of love for the local mom-and-pop places, but they aren’t always the best when it comes to a variety of the best beer selections around town. The Yard House on the other hand is just as good as driving directly to a craft brewery yourself. Each of the beer taps and kegs are kept at a strict temperature and ready to pour for maximum chill. Little do you know that behind the scenes, there are countless kegs hooked up to tubes (the combined length which ranges from about three to five miles long) that sends your choice brew straight to the taps at the island, in the center of each restaurant. (A.N.)
Locations in Chino Hills, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside; www.yardhouse.com.
BEST PLACE TO STOCK UP ON LIQUOR
Total Wine & More
Better than BevMo or any local liquor store, Total Wine has all of the world’s best wine at its fingertips. A majority of Total Wine’s 8,000 different wines hail from the best wineries in California, but also offer a large variety from France, Washington, Italy and Australia. Of course, there’s an estimated 3,000 types of spirits and 2,500 beers too. No flavor is left unexplored here and every month has it’s alcohol-centric celebration. Not only does Total Wine offer recommendations of the best drinks for Oktoberfest or the Superbowl, but they also carry ice, red solo cups and other necessary party items. (A.N.)
Locations in Rancho Cucamonga and Palm Desert; www.totalwine.com.