Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
Happy hour at The Spot
The Spot in La Jolla has been around just about forever. The building itself dates back to 1900, when it was The White Rabbit (not to be confused with the long-closed children’s book store on Girard of the same name) and sold cigars, soda, candy, ice cream and lunches. It had an incarnation as The Village Cupboard, finally becoming The Spot in 1976, when the late Jerry Herman purchased it. Jerry’s inspiration for his restaurant was one of his old hangouts in Evanston, Illinois, a popular neighborhood eatery also called The Spot.
Fast forward a quarter of a century, and The Spot changes hands again, this time to Ryan Tondro, former CFO of Sizzler. Sadly, the timing could not have been worse, as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a serious health problem occurred shortly after.
Ryan, along with his son, Doug, who joined as general manager in 2004, have survived and then some. Two years ago, they added chef Albert Serrano, from King’s Fish House in Mission Valley.
The surroundings are as unpretentious as the name. Longtime bar manager Mario Delgado greets regulars by name; he remembers what each of them drinks.
The classic American menu changes seasonally. There’s Chicago style pizza, both thin and thick, pasta, steaks, burgers, a few seafood items and sandwiches, as well as several of Chef Serrano’s spicy signature appetizers.
I popped in with John recently to have a beer and maybe some munchies for happy hour. It’s a good deal, $4 drafts and wells, half off appetizers, and accordingly, it can get crowded. We settled in with a couple of drafts and ordered up some wings ($5.45 at hh) and “Frings”, a combo basket of fries and onion rings ($3.25 at hh).
It was just about as straightforward bar food as you can get. That’s not a bad thing. The wings, ten nice sized pieces, were fried crispy and drenched in traditional buffalo style hot sauce, vinegary, and spicy. The celery was very fresh, the blue cheese sauce standard.
The fries and rings were good, again, typical bar food, but they were crunchy and piping hot - enough to melt the sprinkle of shredded Parmesan that topped them. Perfect with a cold beer.
He may have had a rough start, but Ryan Tondro has kept the original spirit of The Spot alive. It’s as comfortable as a good friend’s living room, and you don’t have to bring your own beer.
1005 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037
Open daily, 11:00 am - 2:00 am
Happy Hour - Monday - Friday - 3:00 - 6:00 pm
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