Being a frequent solo hound, I enjoy grazing over a book at a table. However, places with good food, that showcase music, live or dj'ed in an interesting mix of genres would be a nice addition to my dining selection.
Personally, I'm looking for places in the North OC or Long Beach areas, but if you want to add other recs that are out of the area for the benefit of other hounds, feel free.
I am at the Hotel Cafe a lot. It's a good place for music and they get a lot of acts I like, but the menu is pretty small. Only about 5 items: Hotel salad, grilled panini, quesadilla, bruschetta, and I think something else. I usually get either the grilled panini (comes with some salad) or the Hotel salad. There are a couple of dessert items too. It gets packed and they keep reducing the number of tables. It's hard to get a seat at a table so you can eat and/or the waitress is hard to catch although you can order at the bar. If I'm lucky one of the gals working there will stop because I'm a "frequent flyer" there. Haven't been to the Largo much. I don't care for the call and leave your number and we'll call you back if you want a reservation. I don't want to just go and leave it to chance or I'm not sure I can make the show (and find out last minute) and end up not getting in. They do get some pretty fine acts though.
Out of you preferred area, but I like Room 5 above Amalfi Restaurant on La Brea in Los Angeles (fairly close to Pink's). The entertainment varies, but I tend to prefer Monday nights when they have about 4 singer/songwriters performing. Usually the shows are hosted by Jay Nash, but he's on tour right now so in April things are a bit up in the air. I'm pretty sure Ann Marie Cullen of Saucy Monky is hosting April 2nd (and perhaps, April 9th), and probably percussionist Billy Hawn will be doing the hosting duties the rest of the Mondays in April. Lots of local musicians are there Mondays, so you might see some impromptu jamming on stage. Last week Liam Finn (the son of Neil Finn of Crowded House/Split Enz fame) who is based in the U.K. was one of the singers. If you check out the website, I advise skipping Poetgirl Roni's shows. I've been to one of her nights to hear somebody I liked, but the level of talent varied wildly that night. http://www.room5lounge.com Mondays are $6 and a 2 drink cover, although I'm not sure how much that is enforced. Duh! Forgot to mention the menu of Italian food is pretty good too. You actually go into Amalfi and go up the stairs to Room 5 and you can pretty much get anything they serve downstairs, upstairs. One quirk....I can't seem to get coffee upstairs, which is kind of a drag if you get dessert.
Memphis in Santa Ana. I've only gone when friends have djed, so I don't know their regular schedule, or if someone is always spinning music. Generally, when I've gone, the clientele have been people into music, though. Surprisingly, I've never seen it filled to capacity, and it's a really nice spot. Stick with basic drinks (i.e., whiskey and Coke, etc.) If you venture for something fancier, you will probably be disappointed. I think the drinks are cheap, and the food might be okay. I joined a party of 30-- they all ate there-- but I didn't try the food. Good music, decent drinks, neat location.
Memphis at the Santora
201 N Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Note: I prefer the Santa Ana location to the Costa Mesa location. It's newer, larger, and nicer. People go there to drink, listen to music, and sometimes eat, but it is generally a good place to meet friends, talk, and hang out until late.
Here's a link to the DJs/events at both locations:
I recommend Phil Trani's.
It's one of my favorite restaurants and, oddly enough, one of the few restaurants that I drive out of my neighborhood to eat in.
It's continental and Italian food. It reminds me of a place that Tony Soprano would enjoy. Steak, pastas, sea food. The specials are usually really good. I like the calamari appetizer. Huge portions. Reasonable prices. They pour stiff drinks. The owner is the chef.
And they have live music on some nights.
Some years it's part of the blues caravan from sponsored by the jazz/blues station.
There's no cover, they just have music in the bar (where you can eat).
I've done a few New Year's eves there.
The web site has a menu and some info on the music.
If you find yourself in Pasadena, check out "The Spot" on Lincoln Ave. They've bands (jazz/vocals) on Friday and Satrday nights - Sunday brunch is with a jazz DJ - Tuesday nights is a jazz jam - Thursday night is a cabaret night.
Food is quite good - service tends to be a bit slow (usually only one person on the floor) but it's friendly and competent - oh, and it's BYOB with no corkage.
STEAMERS CAFE in Fullerton (Commonwealth Ave, east of Harbor Blvd) has live jazz daily. They serve mostly sandwiches, coffee and some limited hot menu items. www.steamersjazz.com
Nearby TUSCANY CLUB (n/e corner Commonwealth/Harbor) also has music most nights and a full menu. www.tuscanyclub.net/
On Thursdays during spring/summer, TAPS in Brea has a band too. www.tapsbrea.com
What did you have that was so atrocious?
Even though they call themselves a full service restaurant, they're more of a coffeehouse with limited hot menu items to me. I usu order their appetizers & coffee drinks and haven't had a terrible or "atrocious" experience. Sometimes "meh"; othertimes good.
If you want to drive into the South Bay, hermosa beach has cafe bugaloo (bugaloo.com) that serves up a cajun influenced menu with live blues most nights. The food is just ok, however they've got an interesting selection of micro brews on tap and some eclectic wines by the glass.
In Long Beach:
The Vault 350 is opening or opened a supper club next-door called "Backstage", I think it's going to be a smaller venue than the vault, and feature more jazz.
Also, I've been told that Frenchy's (which has amazing food) also has Jazz on select nights.
And one of my friends is going to be opening a place on Broadway this June called
"speakeasy" which is going to have all kinds of performances (music, theatre, etc) with a full bar and restaurant.
Also, I've seen lots of live performances at the various Coffee Houses around town.
And I think 49ers Tavern (in the Ralph's strip mall at the PCH/7th st/ Bellflower intersection) has live music on the weekends.