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Ruby Room

1271 University Avenue, Hillcrest

(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)

Formerly the San Diego Sports Bar, Ruby Room is tucked off of the clubby Hillcrest strip behind the newish Ruby Kitchen. Weekend parking can be difficult.

“When we bought the place about a year and a half ago, we 86’ed a lot of the old regulars, changed the interior a little, and began attracting a different crowd,” says co-owner Paul. Adorned with red velvet curtains, local art, and the rear end of an old Cadillac protruding from the ceiling, the place evokes the feel of a deep-South bordello, complete with unisex bathroom.

A drove of drunks take turns smashing the shit out of a buck-a-swing punching bag near the entrance. Some regulars mingle on the off-red pleather booth in the elevated not-actually-V.I.P. area. Others congregate around pool tables, alternately shooting solids and scotch. A few snap $5 photos in a booth. Somewhere in the back, locals Riddle the Roar animate a scarlet-draped stage. I ask the bartender Brian if we are watching a Kubrick film, soft-core porn, or a Power Rangers rerun on the big screen. He thinks it may be a bit of each and serves up the legendary Philly special, a $5 P.B.R. tallboy with a shot of low-grade whiskey.

Out front, a redhead talks about Coachella. “HD does not do Robert Smith justice,” she says. She claims to be in the master’s program for geography at SDSU. “Chad, that’s the capital of Sudan, right?”

Gun Runner kicks off their first show, harkening back to the good ole days of San Diego music with a ring of GoGoGo Airheart. Show-goers spin circles on the dance floor and shout callbacks to the chorus. Tommy Graff belts out noise solos on the guitar. Front man Sean Davenport hoists his keyboard over his head and tickles out an epic coda.

A regular inserts a dollar into the punching game and insists I take a swing. High fives all around.
Chad Deal

Prices: beer, $4–7; mixed drinks, $4–$5; cover on Friday and Saturday nights is about $10
Happy hour: 6 to 9 p.m. offers $2 wells and $3 drafts
Food: Ruby Kitchen offers comfort food for under $10
Hours: Monday through Friday, 2 p.m.–2:00 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m.–2:00 a.m.
Best deals: PBR tall can and a shot of Jim Beam $5; $1 hot dog Wednesdays; Thursdays from 7 to 8 p.m., $1 drafts; $1 mimosas on weekends

Ruby Room

1271 University Avenue, Hillcrest

(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
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