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THE CORNER BAR

Trocadero Is an Oasis of Tropical Delights

March 18, 1993|JON NALICK

The pink and green neon pineapple above the front door lights the way to the Trocadero in the Marketplace across from UC Irvine.

Nestled between a movie theater and a frozen yogurt store, "The Troc," as many regulars call it, has a comfortably split personality: cool and breezy restaurant by day, hot and hoppin' bar by night.

The decor, including ceiling fans and a polished wood floor and bar plus lots of plants, is designed to evoke an image of a Jamaican plantation. The bar maintains a relaxed atmosphere, and people generally dress casually.

Despite being across the street from UC Irvine, the bar plays host to more thirtysomething career types than students, especially at lunchtime. Still, students flock there on Mondays for UCI Night, when there are low-priced drink specials (with student ID) and free chips and salsa from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Although there's not much room at the bar, the Trocadero offers plenty of indoor and patio seating. Four large televisions are usually tuned to ESPN or other channels offering sporting events. Outside, patrons can people-watch; foot traffic through the shopping center is generally heavy much of the night.

Twelve-ounce domestic draft beers, including Miller Lite and Michelob, cost $2; bottled beers run 50 to 75 cents more. Imported draft beers such as Bass Ale are $2.75; bottled imports such as the Amstel Light, Bohemia and Buzzard's Breath cost $3. During happy hour, 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays, the bar offers $1.50 well drinks, and all domestic draft beers cost $1.

Other beverages include bottled waters, fruit smoothies, soft drinks and ice tea, which range from $1.25 to $2.50. The Trocodile, a popular house specialty combining rum, melon liqueur, pineapple and grapefruit juices, costs $5.50.

The wine list includes a dozen labels; by-the-glass prices are $3 to $5. The bar also specializes in coffee drinks including espresso, cappuccino, mocha coffee and Irish coffee.

The bar menu offers a wide range of excellent foods, including wood-fired barbecue chicken pizzas ($8.50), seafood fettuccine (9.95) and angel hair pasta with tomato and basil ($7.95). There are also spicy chicken soft tacos ($5.95) and bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwiches ($5.50), not to mention great desserts such as the mud pie ($4.95) and chocolate blackout cake ($3.25).

The Trocadero also offers live rock and reggae music Wednesdays through Saturdays--with dance bands on Friday and Saturday nights--at no cover charge.

On Troco Tuesdays, beef and chicken tacos are 75 cents from 3 until 9 p.m., and 12-ounce margaritas are $2.50.

The Trocadero, 4237 Campus Drive, Irvine. Open weekdays Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 a.m., Sunday from noon to midnight. (714) 854-5599.

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