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Cottage Café
2321 Fifth Avenue, Banker's Hill
(619) 696-0071

Your standard lite beer has 4.5 percent alcohol by volume and tastes like lemonade without the sugar, right? Then you drop into a Polish café. "You want beer? This is beer." The guy's thrusting a bottle with a black-and-green label featuring a goat on its hind legs quaffing a glass of hops. "Okocim Beer, 1845," it says. For a moment you're sure they've printed the label backwards. Has to be Micoko, right? Japanese? Wrong. "Okocim is a small town in Northeast Poland," says Yuri. "They make a lager and a porter. But you need to be careful with that dark one [porter]. It's very, very strong. Bitter-sweet. A molasses-type beer." He points to the label: "8.1 percent alcohol," it says. Certainly there are stronger beers around. Like San Diego's AleSmith Horny Devil Ale, 10 percent by volume. But here among expatriate Poles you get the right atmosphere and food thrown in. Try a grilled Polish sausage sandwich with grilled peppers, onion, and sauerkraut ($4.99) with your half-liter bottle ($4.95). Have another Okocim. Sing a few songs. Weep for all the women you left. Then call a cab.

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