8282 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa
Mark Twain was only sort of correct when he said, “Eating and sleeping are the only activities that should be allowed to interrupt a man’s enjoyment of his cigar.”
At least, that’s the philosophy at Hoffer’s, where a rotating cast of premium suds and live jazz supplement Twain’s trinity of smoke, snack, and slumber.
Stogie savant Phil Hoffman opened the bar almost five years ago, lending an air of elegance to a neighborhood dominated by dives, antique malls, and mediocre Mexican sit-downs.
Now, you can walk into Hoffer’s dual cedar-lined humidors and choose from a selection of cigars that would make Castro chortle, grab a pint from the bar’s 24 taps, and light up on the heated patio, where the Full House trio and guests jam every Saturday night from 7:30 to 10:00 ($5 cover).
“We go through about 80 beers in 60 days,” says general manager and oat-soda aficionado Michael Craig. “By 10 tonight we’ll have a different beer list.”
By 6:45, the board is being updated (check their website for current taps) while I enjoy, at Craig’s recommendation, a pint of Ballast Point’s spritzy bOOb Check rounded out with a splash of Lagunitas’ Wilco Tango Foxtrot strong ale.
Craig volunteered several tasters before I settled on my drink, offering insight into each brew as I tossed them back. Bottled beers are also available and can be purchased to go.
“It’s easy to miss,” Craig says of the location, which rubs elbows with Cosmos and Swami’s cafés. “My regulars love that about it.”
Both neighboring bistros will deliver from their menu to your bar stool at no extra charge, along with nearby eateries La Torta and Trattoria Tiramisu.
You can eat at the smoke-free bar while you chat with the locals or send off a forgotten email from the in-house laptop before stepping out front to browse a vintage-car show every Thursday evening (5–8 p.m., June through August).
Parking can be difficult on car-show nights and weekends, but meters are free after 6 and the trolley stops a block west. Hoffer’s closes at 11 most nights, and they will take your glass, empty or full, at 10:58. You can keep it going ’til midnight down the street at Pete’s Place or roll your smoky bones home for a Twain-approved interlude of sleep.
— Chad Deal (@chaddeal)
Attire: Humidor haute
Food: Free delivery from neighbors
Happy Hour: ‘til 7 p.m. daily, $4 pints and wine
Max Cap: 40 inside, 40 on patio
Hours: Mon–Sat, 11 A.M.–11 P.M.; Sun, 1–8 P.M.