Arcade

1st Place
Golf N’ Stuff
5555 Walker St., Ventura
644-7131

2nd Place
Ventura Village Carousel
1567 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 100, Ventura
644-3234

3rd place
LazerTag Extreme
1775 E. Daily Dr., Suite I, Camarillo
388-0088

 

Best new rock ’n’ roll hang

The Dirty, Ventura

dirty vinylVentura County has no shortage of dive bars, but dwelling temporarily on the humble stool, in the presence of good contemporary art and vinyl records, is a pleasure only one of them can offer. Established this year in midtown Ventura by Erik Miles (voted Best Bartender 2008 and 2009) in the former Panagea location, The Dirty has quickly become a favorite hang for musicians and music fans. Miles originally christened the bar The Dirty Vinyl Bar & Gallery, but a trademark claim by a British floor-cleaning company prompted some modification.

Reasonably priced drinks, great music, a cozy but unoppressive vibe and friendly folk help attract cool but unpretentious types to the bar/gallery. Miles, originally from the Big Apple, brings a friendly, no B.S., East Coast vibe to the venue where the records pasted to the ceiling are outnumbered only by the tattoos on its patrons. Despite its alliance with a rockabilly-style event promoter, The Dirty boasts a diverse cadre of DJs and performers playing everything from classic rock and reggae to punk rock and metal.

These are tough times for a start-up, especially a bar that’s off the well-trod path of Main Street, but if you’d rather stay a little beneath the radar whilst chugging your PBR, secure yourself a seat where the only thing dirty is the name (and given the abundance of ample cleavage seen there on a regular basis, possibly the thoughts).

— Michel Cicero

 

 

Bartender

1st Place
Dave Osborne @ Dargan’s Irish Pub
& Restaurant
593 E. Main St., Ventura
648-3001

2nd Place
Shannon Perez @ Sans Souci
21 S. Chestnut St., Ventura
643-4539

3rd Place
Ricky Greico @ W2O Lounge
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

 

Beer on tap

1st Place
Anacapa Brewing Company
472 E. Main St., Ventura
643-BEER

2nd Place
Winchester Grill
632 E. Main St., Ventura
653-7446

3rd Place
Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
593 E. Main St., Ventura
648-3001

 

Bloody Mary

1st Place
Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar
1559 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura
639-0865

2nd Place
Watermark On Main
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

3rd Place
The Sportsman
53 S. California St., Ventura
643-2851

4426 Central Ave., Camarillo
983-8668

 

Best all-ages venue

Rock City Studios

2258 Pickwood Drive, Camarillo, 383-3555, www.myspace.com/rockcitystudios

rock cityThe lack of music and entertainment venues for the younger-than-18 set has long been a topic for commiseration among musicians in Ventura County. Besides not being a very lucrative pursuit, the headaches that come with catering to young patrons are built into the business plan that accounts for the real possibility there will never be a financial payoff. In other words, running an all-ages venue takes a lot of heart. Fortunately, Rock City Studios’ Dan and Jan Peyton and their family have it in spades. Dan’s roots in music include a successful career in the 1970s as part of a songwriting team responsible for some of the songs performed by the Partridge Family and the Monkees as well as others.

But, lo, a variety of circumstances placed him on a different path as owner of an electronics business. In his spare time, he enjoyed mentoring young musicians, including his son, and recording them in his home studio. The thought of expanding it beyond his home grew, and after a lot of physical and mental labor, Rock City Studios was born. That was three years ago. The full-service music facility now offers a place to learn, rehearse, record, perform and repair. Its theater production program also offers a place for youth to find expression in the arts at a time when funding for arts education in schools is rapidly diminishing.

Besides the slew of music acts booked for the fall, Rock City Studios is also assembling a choir for a Christmas production, under the tutelage of its seasoned staff. The Peytons’ mission is to create a safe place to educate, inspire and entertain young people, and by all accounts, they’ve succeeded.

— Michel Cicero 

 

 

Cheap date

1st Place
Date Night at the Regency
Buenaventura 6
1440 Eastman Ave., Ventura
658-6544

2nd Place
The Beach

3rd Place
Golf N’ Stuff
5555 Walker St., Ventura
644-7131

 

Club DJ

1st Place
DJ PJ

2nd place
DJ J Scratch

3rd place
DJ Nick Dean

 

Comedy club

1st Place
Ventura Harbor Comedy Club
1559 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura
644-1500

2nd Place
Ventura Improv Company
34 N. Palm St., Ventura
643-5701

3rd Place
805 Comedy @ The Sportsman
4426 Central Avenue, Camarillo
512-0498

 

Best kept happy hour secret

The Whale’s Tail

3950 Bluefin Circle, Oxnard, 985-2511

wIf you are like me, nothing beats an ice cold beer and some free kibbles and bits right after work. But in this hyar town, finding such a place seems to be a futile effort. Sure, there are happy hours to check out, $1.50 off here, some free chips and bean dip there, typically from 4 to 6 p.m., barely giving you enough time to truly chill out before prices soar for that second drink. Let’s face it, finding a cozy place to get your fill of relatively cheap beer and booze with complimentary and/or cheap appetizers is rare. That’s why I go to The Whale’s Tail whenever I get the chance.

Nestled in the Channel Islands harbor in Oxnard, The Whale’s Tail has been a staple of the community for decades.

Going to brunch at the “Tail” was a regular occurrence for me as a kid, but as an adult, finding a calm, relaxing place to decompress after work has become essential. The Whale’s Tail has the perfect combination of a great atmosphere, friendly and efficient service and cheap eats and drinks. Given that the Whale’s Tail happy hour has been Oxnard’s little secret for years, finding a table overlooking the harbor is commonplace — no big crowds to fight with over a table.

Thankfully, this happy hour lasts from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, so no matter what time you get there, it is easy to find a table with a great view, inside or out.

The Whale’s Tail recently revamped its happy hour menu — everything is only $5 — and it continues to serve complimentary cheese and crackers and fresh vegetables with dip. The beer, wine and mixed drinks are beyond affordable in comparison to most happy hours around the county, but be careful not to drink too many (though I am sure the servers would be happy to call you a cab, if need be).

So at the end of your day, where will you end up? Sitting at home watching another rerun of Seinfeld with a cocktail in hand? At the local tavern that takes your credit card for a ride after 6 p.m.? Or, at The Whale’s Tail, where you can be sure to get your fill without worrying about the bill?

— Michael Sullivan

 

 

Dive bar

1st Place
Sans Souci
21 S. Chestnut St., Ventura
643-4539

2nd Place
Star Lounge
343 E. Main St., Ventura
648-4709

3rd Place
Rudder Room
2929 Ocean Dr., Oxnard
985-6096

 

Gay bar

1st Place
Paddy’s
2 W. Main St., Ventura
652-1071

 

Happy hour

1st Place
Aloha Steakhouse
364 S. California St., Ventura
652-1799

2nd Place
Yolanda’s
2753 E. Main St., Ventura
643-270086

E. Daily Dr., Camarillo
389-9922

1601 S. Victoria Ave., Oxnard
985-1340

590 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
306-9933

3rd Place
W2O Lounge
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

 

Best ice-cold, frothy schooner

Taqueria Tepatitlan

362 N. Ventura Ave, Ventura, 653-0508

tacosEtymologists tells us that in the early 18th century, the word “schooner” derived from a newly invented, two-mast sea vessel, was sailing smoothly across a Massachusetts bay and a spectator cried, “Oh, how she scoons!” (Scoon being a Scots word meaning to skim or skip over the water.) In the 19th century, covered wagons were nicknamed “prairie schooners” because of their resemblance to the sea schooner. By 1877, schooner had also come to mean a tall, curvaceous beer glass, perhaps due to its shapely similitude to the mast, or maybe because of the way the beer “scoons” down a thirsty throat.

But most importantly, by 2010 the beer schooner has achieved ice-cold, frothy perfection and is served at Taqueria Tepatitlan in Ventura. The Taqueria’s owner, Juan Gonzalez, has installed a custom draft box where the schooners are iced down throughout the day and night. And there, inside the magical draft box, the 21-ounce schooners wait to be filled with one of five Mexican beers on tap, or one of the three tapped domestic beers.

“There is something about drinking out of a mug so frosty that the top of your beer ices over,” said Jimmy Colborn, 31, a Taqueria regular. “It just compliments the spice of the Mexican food so perfectly.”

Colborn is right. What further distinguishes the Taqueria from other schooner-serving establishments is the authentic menu of Mexican cuisine. Even if you’re short on cash, the frosty schooner complimented with the Taqueria’s thick, crunchy chips and cilantro-spiced salsa is a perfect combination.

Gonzalez recently began pouring “red beer” schooners — half Clamato and half beer, perfect for the morning after a rough night.

“Scoon” over to the Taqueria Tepatitlan between Tuesday and Friday, 9 a.m-9 p.m., or Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., and become a part of the enchanted history of the schooner.

— Shane Cohn

 

 

Jukebox

1st Place:
Busy Bee CafE
478 E. Main St., Ventura
643-4864

2nd Place:
El Rey Cantina
294 E. Main St., Ventura
653-1111

3rd Place
Sans Souci
21 S. Chestnut St., Ventura
643-4539

 

Karaoke

1st place
Golden China
760 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura
652-0688

2nd Place:
La Dolce Vita
740 S. B St., Oxnard
486-6878

3rd Place
Paddy’s
2 W. Main St., Ventura
652-1071

 

Martini

1st Place:
CafE Fiore
66 S. California St., Ventura
653-1266

2nd Place:
W2O Lounge
598 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6800

3rd Place:
J’s Tapas
 204 E. Main St., Ventura
648-4853

 

Margarita

1st Place
Yolanda’s
2753 E. Main St., Ventura
643-2700

86 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo
389-9922

1601 S. Victoria Ave., Oxnard
985-1340

590 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
306-9933

2nd place
Casa de Soria
1961 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
648-2083

3rd place
El Rey Cantina
294 E. Main St., Ventura
653-1111

 

Open-mic

1st Place
Zoey’s Cafe
185 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura
652-1137

2nd Place
Sans Souci
21 S. Chestnut St., Ventura
643-4539

3rd Place
Golden China
760 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura
652-0688

 

Pool hall

1st Place
Stiix Billiards
2520 E. Main St., Ventura
641-2020

2nd Place
The Q Club
2362 N. Oxnard Blvd., Oxnard
278-1231

3rd Place
Victoria Pub & Grill
1413 S. Victoria Ave., Suite F, Ventura
650-0060

 

Place to throw darts

1st Place
Victoria Pub & Grill
1413 S. Victoria Ave., Suite F, Ventura
650-0060

2nd Place
Bench Warmer
1855 E. Main St., Ventura
643-4303

3rd Place
Garman’s Restaurant & Irish Pub
932 E. Main St., Santa Paula
933-4600

 

Sports Bar

1st Place
Cronies Sports Grill
2855 Johnson Dr., Ventura
650-6026

370 N. Lantana St., Camarillo
482-5900

2752 Cochran St., Simi Valley
583-9999

2nd Place
Rookees
419 E. Main St., Ventura
648-6862

3rd Place
Bench Warmer
1855 E. Main St., Ventura
643-4303