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Most popular spot on Golden Hill?

Has to be here, just about opposite the fire station.

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Counterpoint (830 25th Street, Golden Hill, 619-564-6722), is, a kinda boxy-modern place between Broadway and the 94 freeway.

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But walking past about 5:30 in this sun-flooded evening (and aren't they all, up here?) the place is packed. Stacked, outside and in.

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"Happy hour?" I ask this guy in the pork-pie hat. Ben.

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"You're good for half an hour," he says, and lists off a bunch of cut-price drinks.

"Food?"

"No happy hour deals on food," he says. “Just $3 wine and beer specials.”

Dang. But seeing I'm here, and seeing it's such a scene...and seeing as how they have a few single-figure eats on the menu he leaves, guess I could try.

I settle onto the last free stool at the stainless steel bar counter. Hmm. Yucca fries, $9. Mac and fries, "goat + blue + orecchiette" – huh? Turns out it’s Italian for "small ear," type of pasta - $8. Or bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese and spicy bitter chocolate, $5.

But I end up getting the first thing on the list, Brussels sprouts (with "kimchee + salt + chive") $6.

The price is what draws me, of course, but also I’m crazy for this craze for sexed-up Brussels sprouts. The first, and greatest, was at South Park’s Vagabond (now morphing into the Belgian-style Brabant Bar & Café). Theirs were done with bacon, lemon and pecorino Romano cheese. Oh man. Beautiful. Or was it first time’s the charm? Now I gotta see.

On the other hand, the couple next door is eating tacos. Michelle, Dave.

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"They're really really tasty," says Michelle. And she should know. She’s eaten everywhere from Singapore to Tokyo to spots across the States. I check the menu. Think she’s talking about the braised pork carnitas with kimchee sauce, cotija cheese, pickled red onion and apple butter, $9 for two.

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I suddenly remember to order a beer in time for happy hour. Get a Mad River Extra Stout (from up Humboldt County way), and dee-lish it is. Kinda sweet, which I love every now and then, in contrast to all the hoppiness that I’m used to. Usually $5, now $3. Deal.

Michelle and Dave are into grilled salmon ($16)...

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...and pan-roasted chicken breast ($15)...

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...by the time Brittney the barista lays out a (nice tan, real leather) table mat and brings my sprouts in one of those paddle-shaped china skillets.

I start chomping into my sprouts.

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And, have to say, easily as good as Vagabond’s (same price too). But these sprouts are disguised in a kimchee sauce, the whole Korean thing of fermented cabbage, soy, chili … they're salty and citrusy in a rich and addictive way. I end up downing every sprout – grandma would be patting me on the back about now, except these are nothing like he ghastly steamy things – and the thing is, these succulent suckers are so-oo filling.

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Counterpoint has been here about three years. Guess they must have been pioneers in the gentrification of Golden Hill. Suddenly this place is becoming a destination. Must come back in the morning sometime when the sun shines right in the patio. Maybe next weekend. I hear their weekend brunches are great.

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