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DTC #73: Tapas n’ Toupees Italian bites, hiddEn vino and old school dancing moves

THE DATE

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Lining the walls of The Seahorse Bar are images of the same beautiful woman. This isn't coincidence but the owners grandmother a socialite back in the day who once dated Sinatra.
Stop 1

artistic tapas and wine tasting

• 5pm - 6:30pm •

Stop 1: Laguna Wine Gallery

Along the “unassuming” stretch of Laguna Beach coastline known as Woods Cove you’re sure to spot sandy couples scuttling to their cars and surfers squeezing out of wetsuits as the beach day comes to a close. Happily dry and sand free you turn in to The Wine Gallery, and receive the kind of welcome normally reserved for a neighborhood regular. Take your seat at the high table and listen as your energetic waiter dishes out wine and food specialties. Italian “tapas” a la meatballs and roasted cauliflower arrive as the energy in the tiny venue slowly builds along with your glasses of wine. When your pizza arrives, snack, sip, and repeat as necessary. Once you’ve maxed out your cheese consumption for the evening, it’s off to the races.

What to know...

  • On primetime nights reservations are highly encouraged. This place can get packed. Request the high top in the wine bottle corner ;)
  • The Wine Gallery is no slouch when it comes to live music. Stop in Tuesday and Thursday nights when they have a live band.
  • Looking to save a few bucks? happy hour runs from Monday to Saturday 4:30pm to 6:30pm with $9 pizzas and meatballs, $8.50 house wine and $2 off 1/2 pours.
Stop 2

A “hidden” oasis full of laguna history

• 6:30pm to 8pm •

Stop 2: The Seahorse

Two entrances serve The Seahorse Bar, but the back driveway more adequately introduces the concept of this one-time auto parts store, turned boutique-watering-hole. Once inside, time slows down a while for the always-busy OC—so soak in the old school bohemian vibes. There is a theme to everything you see, and uncovering the little mysteries means its worth repeat visits. The makeshift bar serves an eclectic mix of beer, wine and a surprisingly refreshing “adult kombucha.” Plop down on a vintage couch next to the record player emitting a bygone era’s top hit and pretend it’s 1963. Relax and rehash old times while sipping on a freshly poured glass of the good stuff. Soon you’ll be dancing “worlds” away.

What to know...

  • This is the second incarnation of the Seahorse Bar, it was originally opened in 1946 known as the unofficial first gay bar in Laguna. A legend for a town that once boasted 25% population of gay residents.
  • A rotating tap of craft beers and hard to find wines are on tap but they're no slouch to elevated bar bites with Kumomoto oysters and house made chowder every Friday.
  • Unfortunately on busy nights the vinyl isn't able to be DJed by the patrons but if you find yourself there on an off night and ask nicely...you never know.
Stop 3

Rock out with the older crowd

• 8pm til you've boogied down •

Stop 3: Mozambique

The multilevel castle of Mozambique’s maze baffles you as you pass live toucans and giggling couples en route to your final stop. Above the high brow dining room is a party gearing up for your arrival. Pass into the energetic room and squeeze up to the bar in time to order before the band takes the stage. Go with an African Mojito or Drunken Elephant to wisk you away to far away lands just as the first beat of a classic rock anthem engulfs the room. To wait at the bar or hop on the dance floor, that is the question…

What to know...

  • Prepare for the sticker shock. This joint usually pulls in the older crowd with tickets usually $25-40 for a show.
  • The food here is excellent with Peri-peri everything and an incredible pre-6pm happy hour with $10 dishes. Perfect for next time.
  • Mozambique was originally a Mexican joint called Tortilla Flats. This is where Javier Sosa, owner and namesake to Javier’s Finest Foods of Mexico started his cooking career years ago.

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