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Ye Olde Plank Inn
24 Palm Avenue,
Imperial Beach
619-423-5976

The Plank is IB's old-line hangout (it opened in 1886 as a liquor store). The low, palm-frond palapa dangles with nets, puffer fish, mini brass divers' helmets, and fishermen's colored glass floats. Customers at its oblong bar wear biker jackets, long ZZ Top beards and shaved heads, or are old Navy hands and Air America jocks. Mein Host for the past 30 years has been Alan Winkelman. But Sunday morning, you want Babs, out at the cookery on the beachfront deck. She'll make you an offer you can't refuse: a six- or eight-ounce steak (your choice), plus from one to ten eggs, home fries, and a pick-me-up drink -- maybe a Bloody Mary, a screwdriver, or a Salty Dog -- from the bar, all for $5.95. Or substitute the steak for six sausages or a slab of ham or a pork loin. How come so much for so little? "We're a kind of club," says Al, the owner. "Like, if someone has medical bills, we pitch in. Or we've all helped put up a clinic down in Honduras." Beginning on the pub's birthday (February 4) Al stages a weeklong birthday bash. Drinks cost the pub's age -- $1.15 this year; the discount drink changes daily (Tuesday's screwdriver is Wednesdays rum and coke). Another popular Plank event: the last Sunday in April is annual Robe day -- at 6:00 in the morning you'll find folks in negligees and bathrobes lined up outside.

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