Trout's proudly and strongly retains the music traditions that were imported to Bakersfield via underground honky-tonk pipelines in the 1940s. The nightclub/dance hall/saloon offers up live music nightly ($5 cover charge), with area instrumentalists, karaoke aces, and mysterious, guitar-slinging drifters with hat brims pulled over their eyes taking to the Trout's Legends or Blackboard stages. Toast the sound of house band the Blackboard Playboys with a drink ($2.50–$8), or train your heels to boot, scoot, and boogie with Trout's line dance classes ($5), offered throughout the week. Trout's also houses an extensive collection of authentic memorabilia ($5–$2,000), with signed celebrity guitars and artifacts from the "Bakersfield sound" era of country music, made famous by belt-buckled Bakersfield residents Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
When the owners of Crawdaddy's decided to put a little bit of New Orleans' distinctive flair right in the heart of Visalia, they knew it would take more than great cuisine. What makes New Orleans so unforgettable is that it caters to all the senses and makes the smallest outing a special event. To fill that tall order, they took residence in a spacious facility that could be an exciting venue for music, parties, libations, food, and sporting events, all in one electric, lively place.
The second-floor dining room welcomes guests with a menu of fresh seafood such as blackened catfish and bayou butter prawns. A fully stocked bar wets whistles, and balcony seating offers couples a romantic setting under the stars—all 50 of them. Meanwhile, more than a dozen flat-screen TVs light up the crowd in the first floor's sports bar, where a mixologist whips up creative cocktails and TVs whip up the big game. In the dining area of the first floor, Keith and the Crawdads treat diners to lively tunes during the evening, and on the second level the nightclub sends crowds into fits of dance spasms as late-night DJs spin everything from hip-hop to disco six days a week.
As its name implies, Art Bar is a venue for socializing as well as creating. Inside the art studio located in the Granada Hotel, several experienced and fun-loving local artists lead step-by-step workshops designed to help students create their own unique paintings based on a chosen subject. Using acrylic paints, watercolor, or mixed media, groups may create cresting waves, an ocean at sunset, human figures, or still-life arrangements. All the necessary art supplies such as brushes and aprons are included for every workshop. To keep students fueled for their painting, the bar serves beer, wine, cocktails, and charcuterie platters.
Committed to providing fresh pours, the winetenders of Gather Wine Bar uncork only 25 to 35 of their carefully curated central-coast wines each week. Knowledgeable staff can recommend a bottle for customers to pair with charcuterie plates, flatbread pizzas, and gourmet pub snacks such as bacon-wrapped dates. Alternatively, themed wine flights can provide a cross section of a single varietal or eclectic tastes from an array of vines. Live music acts and singles events create an upbeat atmosphere on many nights, and catered parties can gather small groups around a fire pit or feed 100 or more people with unlimited appetizers from the bar.
The snug's the thing, at least according to Rooney's owners Tim and Jane. A good Irish pub contains plenty of snugs—cozy little nooks, typically tucked near the fireplace—where "conversations flow and revolutions ferment" around a table topped with pints. Most importantly, snugs grant an atmosphere of intimacy even when the place is packed, much like the honeymoon suite found inside most clown cars.
Rooney's snugs hold to the traditions of Eire's famed watering holes, but Tim and Jane have crossbred those traditions with central California culture, most notably in Chef Anthony Endy's hearty gastropub cuisine. This melding of old and new has snagged the attention of the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, which in 2012 named Rooney's Irish Pub the best Orcutt restaurant. The menu's most popular dish, "The Lost" shepherd's pie, exemplifies the blend by replacing ground beef with Guinness-braised Angus short ribs. Similarly, old sod standbys such as Guinness and Harp pour out of taps next to Rooney's own microbrews, such as the Bonny Blond Ale and the Irish Ambush IPA.
Rooney's has established some of its own traditions as well. The trivia-night league convenes on Wednesdays for no-holds-barred fact downs. Each Friday, Chef Anthony stacks california red oak into a 10-foot smoker to slow cook brisket, ribs, and whole hogs—some of which are locally raised on grains recycled from the microbrewery. The staff dishes out the meat to pub patrons on Smokin' Saturday, and also uses it for catering events or parties of up to 100 guests in the banquet room. Smokin' Saturday devotees can nurse their heads the morning after with "Bloody Sunday" brunch, where they get to doctor up their own cures at an award-winning bloody mary bar.
Between the disco ball that glitters above the dining room, the toy sharks swimming in bucket-sized cocktails, and the Pop Rocks that crackle in watermelon margaritas, it's pretty obvious that Baja Sharkeez is a lot of fun. These playful touches are the handiwork of Ron and Greg Newman, a father-son team for whom Sharkeez is a labor of love. Ron had found success with the Red Onion chain of restaurants in the '70s and '80s, but upon Greg's graduation from USC, the pair decided to start fresh with a new concept. According to The Tasting Panel, Greg enlisted some of his fraternity brothers to help develop the brand, and today, the small chain maintains a boisterous, beachy vibe that reflects Greg's Hermosa Beach upbringing.
In that spirit, Sharkeez hosts plenty of special events, including July 4th hot-dog-eating contests and bachelorette parties with drink specials and party favors. But even on a normal day there's generally a crowd, whether it be families ordering off the kids' menu at lunch, or coworkers stretching happy hour into a late night. The kitchen cooks up an extensive selection of Baja-Mexican dishes, such as burritos stuffed with mesquite chicken or the very popular mahi-mahi tacos. Those looking to drink with their meal can order spiked lemonades and fresh-fruit margaritas or build their own cocktail at the bloody mary bar.