Bars and Clubs
The proximity of UCSB to downtown Santa Barbara guarantees a more lively nighttime scene than you’ll find elsewhere on the Central Coast. Check with the locals to discover the ever-changing hot spots du jour. Bars cluster on State Street and beyond, and plenty of hip clubs dot the landscape here.
For a uniquely California experience, head for Q’s Sushi a Go Go (409 State St., 805/966-9177, Mon.–Sat. 4 p.m.–2 a.m.). Shoot a game of pool, get your dance on to local DJs, or sit down to a high-quality sushi dinner. Or do all three in the same night at the same spot!
With four bars, a full sushi menu, and a lovely SOS (stands for Sick of Sushi) entrée menu, you can eat and drink the night away at Q’s, or fuel up for an energetic session on the dance floor. Q’s has three levels to suit a variety of entertainments. At the bar, order any mixed drink you can dream up, or one of the tasty on-tap beers.
Only two blocks up, Tonic (634 State St., 805/897-1800, www.tonicsb.com) has a hipster feel, complete with exposed brick walls and a long glass bar. Top-flight DJs spin h a mostly hip hop or house groove, with the occasional mash-up for variety. Check Tonic’s Myspace page for a list of upcoming DJs. Two lounges provide a respite from the partiers at the main bar and on the dance floor. To cool down, go outside to the huge outdoor patio, which has its own funky octagonal bar.
If you prefer to dance and drink to live bands, head over to Velvet Jones (423 State St., 805/965-8676, www.velvet-jones.com, daily 9 p.m.–2 a.m.). Artists ranging from rapper KRS-One to goth-rock Evanesce to Alien Ant Farm have played Velvet Jones. Thursday through Saturday, bands take the stage for the dancing, yelling crowds. On other nights of the week, you might find karaoke, live comedy, or a DJ spinning.
Check the calendar at the website for upcoming events and shows. Even if you’re not into the scene, this bar is worth walking into just for the funky giant murals on the walls and the handblown glass ornaments (in a rock club!!) adorning the bar.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition