Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
I went to Slater’s 50/50 – Burgers by Design in Liberty Station over the weekend, not knowing that it’s a sports bar before I got there. I haven’t been to a sports bar in a long while. I don’t have anything against them, it’s just that it can be hard to find one with good food and good beer. Too many places hang up some team jerseys and a half dozen flat screens, stock up on frozen jalapeno poppers, and call themselves a restaurant.
Slater's 50/50 is a small chain, with additional locations in Anaheim and Huntington Beach.
The first thing I noticed was a huge exhaust stack over the place, pumping billows of meat-scented smoke throughout the neighborhood. It hung over the nearby Ace Hardware in a grey cloud.
A large bronze burger stands out front, a knife sticks up like a pike. That’s the way all their burgers and sandwiches are served, stabbed through the middle with a giant blade.
There's a big, comfy-looking patio, but we opted to sit inside, partly because it was chilly, mostly to avoid inhaling smoke throughout our meal.
We were seated at a raised table in the bar area. The view was pure electronic overload – I had sixteen screens available by barely turning my head. I could watch the Padres, the Masters, hockey, NBA basketball, auto racing and a couple of other MLB games. The soundtrack was a mix of 70s/80s/90s dancy-music and the chatter of the predominantly twenty-something crowd. Pleasantly loud, like being at a party where everyone’s having fun.
The beer selection is better than most sports bars, with several local brews available. During Happy Hour, ten selected beers are half price, as are some appetizers.
The appetizer menu was short and heavy on the deep fried side. We skipped over it and ordered the house burger, the 50/50 ($9.95). It’s 50% Sterling Silver Premium ground beef, 50% ground bacon, and comes in 1/3 lb., 2/3 lb. and full pound sizes. Fries are extra at $3.95. Standard garnishes include a sunny side up egg, avocado mash, pepper jack cheese and chipotle aioli, encased in a brioche bun.
The whole 50/50 thing sounds a bit gimmicky – it seems as though adding bacon is the lazy chef’s way of garnishing almost everything from calamari to cookies. I’m glad to say that it worked pretty well in this case. I’ve often been disappointed by under seasoned burgers, but the bacon added a good, salty, smoky flavor without overwhelming the beefy taste. Although I wasn’t asked how I wanted it done, it came out medium rare, nice. The runny egg and avocado made it pretty slippery, so it squished and squashed, but the bun held up it’s end of the deal and didn’t fall apart. Messy and good, a three-napkin burger.
The fries were pretty good, too. Long, medium cut with plenty of skin. They could have used another 30 seconds in the fryer, but still had decent crispiness. There was a cup of bacon-ketchup for dipping, which didn’t add much, but wasn’t terrible either.
Slater’s 50/50 also serves sandwiches, salads and design your own burgers. A full bar is available in addition to beer and wine. Milkshakes choices include toasted marshmallow, maple bacon and Guinness mint chocolate ($4.95 for vanilla, plus $.50 for each addition).
2750 Dewey Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Daily - 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.