These Are Santa Ana’s Greatest Dive Bars

The Quill's cash register / Aurielle Weiss / el Don

The Quill’s cash register. / Aurielle Weiss / el Don

Santa Ana is full of culture and character; so are its dive bars. Some of the seediest watering holes might feel like dingy, dark caves, but look beyond and you’ll find some of the most entertaining (and cheapest) places to have a drink.

The Quill
Since 1959, The Quill has been giving Santa Ana locals the ultimate dive bar experience. Attached to a tiny liquor store, this hole-in-the-wall bar gives off a Cheers vibe that extends even to first-timers.

Whether they know your name or not, regulars will greet you with a smile or a crude joke that somehow doesn’t seem offensive and the lively bartender Scott Finney will crack jokes at your expense, but not before he buys you a welcome shot of Fireball.

“I love it here because in the same night, I’ll have a multimillionaire and a homeless man sitting right next to each other,” Finney said.

The Quill is one of the longest-running dive bars in Santa Ana and holds one of the oldest liquor licenses in the city. There might not be any draft beers to toss back, but they carry an impressive selection of booze for such a small bar.

The Quill’s many amenities — an old jukebox that seems to play only ‘80s hits, a single dart machine and super cheap drinks before and after happy hour — make the perfect recipe for a great time. But the greatest part about The Quill isn’t just the $4 wells, it’s the people.

The Fling
Like many other bars of this type, The Fling opens at 6 a.m. and serves hard liquor at low prices. There is a little stage in the back for live bands and if you go on a Saturday, you’ll witness the whole place bowing down to one of the greatest guitar players in town, Mike Fleetwood, who plays with the cover band MPG. Friendly staff and a fun, older crowd, make Fling a great time.

Father’s Pub & Grub
Tucked away behind a smoke shop and a tattoo parlor off 17th Street, Father’s gives off the feeling that it wants to be hidden. The interior is small, with one pool table in the corner and a stage in the back for live bands. But what really draws in the crowds is the always smiling, scantily-clad female bartenders. As one regular put it: “Come for the $5, 32-ounce beers and stay for the pretty girls behind the bar.”

Aurielle Weiss

Aurielle Weiss is el Don's managing editor 2016-2017.

Latest posts by Aurielle Weiss (see all)