Walter Mencken 1:04 p.m., Sept. 4
Krizanto sings his heart out.
I chomp into my $5 dinner: ribs, carrots, broccoli, blob of mash, bread bun, and butter. I take a slurp of my $1 beer.
In Old Town? I had to rub my eyes, too. Was leaving the Plaza. Crossed Twiggs. Hit San Diego Avenue and the main tourist section. First up, on the corner, O’Hungry’s. Opened here over 33 years ago, they say.
It's a place I keep meaning to come back to. I need to see if I’m man enough to handle their yard of ale, that long flute glass. Tried the half-yard once. That was tough.
I carry on towards the Old Town Saloon. Figure they may have some cheaper-than-tourist-trap food. Because I’m starved. This is around seven at night.
“No food,” says the barman. Dang.
That’s when it hits me. Something I’d seen but not computed a moment ago. The sandwich board outside O’Hungry’s (2547 San Diego Avenue, 619-298-0133):
“$5 Dinner: Baked Chicken; Ham Steak; Country Fried Steak; Mahi Mahi; Spaghetti; BBQ Ribs.”
Says something about $2.99 breakfasts, too. A roadrunner moment later, I’m back at O'Hungry's, this woody, kinda Wild West place...
...with wooden floor, wooden chairs and tables, and pub-y timbered ceiling.
I order the BBQ ribs. Can’t believe they're just five bucks, but Andrea the waitress says it happens every day 4:30 till close, around nine.
Ask for a beer. Bud Light. Says $4 on the menu. “Actually we only charge $1,” she says, “for your first three mugs. After that it goes back to $4.”
Lawdy. Andrea says the owner, Stan Chu, figures these are hard times, and he needs to meet his customers halfway. I’d say this is more than half, Stan.
The ribs are fine -- three of them. Big, meaty...
...okay, not totally Texas BBQ rip-roaring seared-flavor feel, but plentiful and with plenty of veggies to round them out. And six bucks all in? Unbelievable.
This is when I notice Krizanto, the elderly mariachi. Doing the rounds of the tables. Nobody’s interested. As he passes I say, “La Malagueña?” Figure I can afford him, just six bucks down and eating, drinking hearty.
He launches into the finest rendition I’ve heard of that haunting song. The guitar work. The clear, passionate voice.
Dang. Is that tears I feel sprouting?
Can’t be the beer. It’s Miller Light.