992 Palm Avenue, Imperial Beach
Like most sterling life decisions, the Salty Frog was born out of little more than camaraderie and a sturdy dollop of beer-addled whimsy.
Jason Hasty, his wife Alisha, and Kanai (pronounced “Can-I”) — a buddy since high school — opened the joint on Saint Patrick’s Day of 2011, having no idea that they were inaugurating what is now one of I.B.’s most lively drankin’ holes.
“When we opened we would pay $1600 for a UFC fight and do a total of $750 in sales,” Jason recalls. “It was brutal. After a while word got out and people started to really like us. We are very grateful because it was not fun to own the bar at first! No glory, no parades, just losses.”
Back in the ’80s, it was called the Far East Rock, infamous for its “backroom antics that included dingy couches and even dingier women.”
“It stayed like that for years but slowly faded until it was purchased by a Navy Seal named Ty Woods. Ty changed the reputation and then the name — the Salty Frog because he was a Navy Seal (Frogman) and he was retired (salty).”
Today, the iodized amphibian plays host to a steady crowd of locals, college kids, Navy dudes, and weekend partiers who got sidetracked on their way to TJ. In addition to free pool and shuffleboard, the bar offers karaoke Thursdays, free live music every Friday and Saturday (UFC fights are $5), the illustrious $4 Avodkalypse Bloody Mary bar on Sundays, and — greatest of all — Toss it Tuesdays (6 to 10 p.m.), when the bartender flips the house coin and a frog up merits a drink for 25 cents.
Be warned: I.B. cops are notorious for lurking outside bars at closing time, so groups are encouraged to reserve the Frog van (call well in advance) for free pick up and drop off in South Bay.
As for the future, Jason says: “We have always wanted to do frog races. It’s the only idea we have not figured out yet. Seems simple, but we don’t want to have frogs getting killed from excited patrons. The best current idea is a clear Plexiglass straightaway that’s only open on the ends. You would get a four-foot long straw to blow paper wads at them to get them moving. And then the idea fades. That’s it. I told you it hasn’t all come together yet.”
- Prices: Drafts $5; Cocktails $3.50, $5ish
- Hours: Monday–Saturday, 2:00 pm–2:00 am; Sunday, 12:00 pm–2:00 am
- Happy: 2–7 pm Monday–friday: $3 well, $2 dom drafts, $4 select premium drafts
- Capacity: 99
- Food: Pretzels
- Cards: Yes
- The Deal: 25-cent Toss it Tuesdays