Bars in Rancho Santa Margarita

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Amidst intricately designed wall art and romantic lighting, Montego Restaurant & Bar is simultaneously elegant and welcoming. That's because the eatery blends upscale charm with American pastimes such as jazz, football, and most importantly?succulent steak. The menu, overseen by Executive Chef Adrian De La Torre, stars a 12-ounce USDA Choice Angus new york strip along with braised short ribs, juicy burgers, and steamed clams. Diners enjoy these dishes a la carte or as part of themed nights, which include jazz and blues concerts and watching games on flatscreen televisions or in the reflection of soup spoons pointed at flatscreen television.

27211 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano,
CA
US

Executive chef Thomas Crijns of Brussels Bistro teams up with fellow Belgian Philippe De Smedt and French restaurateur Thierry Perreau to give his seasonally inspired menu of Belgian-style cuisine a French twist, earning the restaurant recognition as one of the 2012 Top 10 Orange County Bistro Restaurants in Gayot and named Best French Fries in 2008 in OC Weekly for their signature side with dipping sauces. With live jazz music each Tuesday through Thursday and DJs spinning music under pulsing colored lights Fridays and Saturdays, it is not surprising that OpenTable also took notice of the spot and awarded Brussels Bistro the Diners Choice for Late Night Find.

While known for its late night offerings, Brussels Bistro features a menu of lunch fare including quiche Lorraine packed with gruyere cheese, tomatoes, and bacon and savory ham-and-cheese crepes. Diners may opt to share their bountiful pots of mussels and Belgian-style fries on the sunny outdoor terrace while sipping one of nine Belgian beers on tap or 15 bottled varieties each served with a signature glass etched with its family tree.

222 Forest Ave
Laguna Beach,
CA
US

Modeled after an Old World wine cellar, WineStyles's shelves are lined with rare bottles accrued by its staff of in-house experts hailing from quality vineyards across the globe. The shop's bounty includes handcrafted gift boxes and baskets and merchandise, such as guidebooks for translating secret codes etched in cork. Along with retailing wine and imbibing gear, WineStyles's crew grants guests the opportunity to sample new pours at frequent events and two-hour tastings three nights a week. For dedicated aficionados, the chief wine taster chooses two bottles to send to wine-club members along with tasting notes that detail their origins, a winery description, and suggested food pairings.

3975 Portola Parkway
Irvine,
CA
US

At Irvine Improv, comics lure laughs from deep within bellies while following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv club stages. The club's calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-coming performers. Audience members munch on a savory menu of appetizers, entrees, burgers, and deserts while sipping specialty cocktails to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.

71 Fortune Dr
Irvine,
CA
US

The Taco Surf empire grew from the dream of a father and son who, in 1988, decided to found a restaurant that captured the distinctive flavors as well as the festive spirit of Baja California. Basing the menu on generations-old family recipes, the duo stick to tradition by making everything from crispy tortilla chips to tamales in-house. Charbroiled flank steak, slow-cooked pork, and grilled chicken appear throughout the menu; however, the ocean's influence is unmistakably prominent. The iconic Baja tacos arrive brimming with breaded white fish and drizzled with a signature spicy Baja sauce, which the restaurant generously sells by the bottle and by the thimble.

34195 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point,
CA
US

Beneath decorative surfboards and hanging tropical plants, plates of Angus burgers and pub fare emerge from Duke's kitchen as glasses overflow with cocktails and brews. Cavalcades of nachos and chicken wings prance across platters and the menu's five varieties of hand-packed ground Angus chuck burgers lounge on hawaiian and sourdough rolls beside entourages of seasoned fries. At the full bar, bartenders decant 12 draft beers and reminisce with patrons about last year's most impressive spit take. Booths, tabletops, and bar seating cushion guests amid Hawaiian artwork and a colorful mosaic while pool tables and televisions arouse revelry. A lineup of DJs, karaoke, and live acoustic and reggae nights comprise the bar's weekly entertainment.

204 S El Camino Real
San Clemente,
CA
US