Silky Sullivan’s Wins Irish-Pub Sweepstakes

Sandwiched between an assortment of faceless office complexes in Fountain Valley is a slightly more distinctive building, a bar named after a racehorse.

Strangers to Silky Sullivan’s may drive up and down Slater Avenue several times before finding the place. But once you’ve been there, you’re not likely to forget it.

Silky Sullivan’s is a singular, spirited gathering spot, part sports bar and part nightclub and, most strikingly, Orange County’s most authentic Irish pub.

If you’ve never been to Ireland or even to an East Coast pub in an Irish neighborhood, you’ll have to take my word for it: The bars are a lot like Silky’s.


This is a wonderful neighborhood hangout that attracts a loyal crowd of regulars, mostly transplanted East Coasters, Chicagoans and native Irish. Folks will drop by at noon for a bite, return after work to down a pint and chat with the mates, and then bring a crowd for a Saturday night outing.

There’s a distinctive pulse inside Silky’s, a spark of life and camaraderie--even for the first-time visitor--that is sorely lacking at most Southern California bars.

If you’re sports-minded, whatever event might be airing over the satellite dish or has been previously recorded can be viewed from the television monitors dotting every corner of the place. And if you’re a horse-racing buff in particular, you may want to peruse the hallway walls adorned with newspaper clippings chronicling the feats of Silky Sullivan, the swift chestnut colt famous for his remarkable come-from-behind victories during the late 1950s.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, live entertainment fills the hall, usually a local band covering rock tunes or, on occasion, an Irish folk ensemble.


But the main attractions of this 6-year-old bar are the people and the atmosphere, whether you prefer to hole up with your group at a booth or mix with the colorful regulars while sipping pints of Guinness.

And by the way, the pints of Guinness at Silky’s are unequaled in these parts. The bartenders are skilled at the painstaking technique of pulling the proper pint, which means a 10-minute wait for a frothy head of stout. And the brew is served up in true Irish-pint glasses, 20 ounces tall rather than the Americanized 16-ounce versions.

If your taste buds haven’t yet acquired an appreciation for the rich Irish stout, seven other beers are available on draught, including Ireland’s next-finest beers, Harp and Bass ale, and Canada’s best offerings, Moosehead and Molson. Ten bottled beers, both import and domestic, are also served.

Silky’s reputation for its Guinness is matched by its superb Irish coffee, made with a rich, flavorful Irish cream and coffee and topped with the house’s whipped cream.


And there are always daily drink and food specials. Although some full meals are available, Silky’s specializes in a delicious assortment of appetizers, most notably its Buffalo hot wings and Irish bangers (sausage).

If you arrive late on a weekend night, don’t expect to be able to sprawl out with a group around an empty table, because there rarely are any. From 9 p.m. on, the place usually is teeming.

So, you may have to get your Irish up to work your way into the crowd or up to the bar. But it very likely will be worth the trip.

Silky Sullivan’s, 10201 Slater Ave. (one block east of Brookhurst), Fountain Valley. Open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. (714) 963-2718.