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Here's the Deal: Tower Bar

Place

Tower Bar

4757 University Avenue, San Diego

Tower Bar’s namesake tower in City Heights is visible from blocks away, jutting skyward between Vietnamese Laundromats and Ethiopian restaurants like a cartoon monument to a forgotten Aztec deity.

The place is almost at maximum capacity. A line of patrons extends from the door. I show the doorman my I.D. and get a stamp. “Fucktard,” it reads.

Videos of glam babes in bikinis shooting automatic weapons illuminate the crowded bar. A sign above the bar advertises absinthe for $10. Framed photos on the wall show where a drunk driver plowed into the bar in 1964, inspiring the moniker “the original hole-in-the-wall.” Now, all the support beams lean west in homage to that fateful day.

I grab a tall bottle of Racer 5 ($7) from the jovial bartender, Thaddeus, and disappear into the sweaty mass of show goers.

Local happy punks the Beaters make some noise while, outside, patrons smoke cigarettes and line up to re-enter as a wizened Vietnamese woman named Lom Sok sweeps garbage and butts from the sidewalk and gutters.

An Arrogant Bastard ($7) later, S.D. heroes the Soft Pack (formerly the Muslims) unleash Drive Like Jehu–inspired post-punk breakdowns overlaid with candid Pavement-esque vocal melodies. Celebrating a self-titled album release, the Soft pack has made the Tower one of their first stops before embarking on a tour throughout the U.S., the U.K., and Europe.

After, the place empties out until a handful of steadfast boozers remain. The owner, Mick, a laidback Aussie with a greaser hair-do, slides me a 24-ounce “man can” of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($5) and laments the bureaucratic absurdity of permit regulations in San Diego. “You have to have a permit for alcohol, a permit for music, even a permit for dancing,” he relates with a distant look. “But the City doesn’t want to give out any of them.” Iggy Pop comes over the jukebox and a few girls leave their stools to groove around on the vacant floor. “Do me a favor,” Mick says with a grin. “Tell those girls to stop dancing.”

Place

Tower Bar

4757 University Avenue, San Diego




  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $5–7; mixed drinks $4; no cover
  • Happy Hour: until 7 p.m.(ish), $3 drafts
  • Food: sometimes
  • Max Cap: 73 persons
  • Hours: Mon–Tues. 7 p.m.–2 a.m.; Wed–Sun. 2 p.m.–2 a.m.
  • And: free eating contest Thursdays and free BBQ at 4 p.m. Sundays
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Place

Tower Bar

4757 University Avenue, San Diego

Tower Bar’s namesake tower in City Heights is visible from blocks away, jutting skyward between Vietnamese Laundromats and Ethiopian restaurants like a cartoon monument to a forgotten Aztec deity.

The place is almost at maximum capacity. A line of patrons extends from the door. I show the doorman my I.D. and get a stamp. “Fucktard,” it reads.

Videos of glam babes in bikinis shooting automatic weapons illuminate the crowded bar. A sign above the bar advertises absinthe for $10. Framed photos on the wall show where a drunk driver plowed into the bar in 1964, inspiring the moniker “the original hole-in-the-wall.” Now, all the support beams lean west in homage to that fateful day.

I grab a tall bottle of Racer 5 ($7) from the jovial bartender, Thaddeus, and disappear into the sweaty mass of show goers.

Local happy punks the Beaters make some noise while, outside, patrons smoke cigarettes and line up to re-enter as a wizened Vietnamese woman named Lom Sok sweeps garbage and butts from the sidewalk and gutters.

An Arrogant Bastard ($7) later, S.D. heroes the Soft Pack (formerly the Muslims) unleash Drive Like Jehu–inspired post-punk breakdowns overlaid with candid Pavement-esque vocal melodies. Celebrating a self-titled album release, the Soft pack has made the Tower one of their first stops before embarking on a tour throughout the U.S., the U.K., and Europe.

After, the place empties out until a handful of steadfast boozers remain. The owner, Mick, a laidback Aussie with a greaser hair-do, slides me a 24-ounce “man can” of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($5) and laments the bureaucratic absurdity of permit regulations in San Diego. “You have to have a permit for alcohol, a permit for music, even a permit for dancing,” he relates with a distant look. “But the City doesn’t want to give out any of them.” Iggy Pop comes over the jukebox and a few girls leave their stools to groove around on the vacant floor. “Do me a favor,” Mick says with a grin. “Tell those girls to stop dancing.”

Place

Tower Bar

4757 University Avenue, San Diego




  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $5–7; mixed drinks $4; no cover
  • Happy Hour: until 7 p.m.(ish), $3 drafts
  • Food: sometimes
  • Max Cap: 73 persons
  • Hours: Mon–Tues. 7 p.m.–2 a.m.; Wed–Sun. 2 p.m.–2 a.m.
  • And: free eating contest Thursdays and free BBQ at 4 p.m. Sundays
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Comments
3

One of the best damn bars in San Diego. Don't go there.

March 11, 2010

Good report, Chad.

March 11, 2010

I feel close to you, in terms of what we both do with, and to, commas, Chad. The detail of Lom Sok hit me in the best sudden way--I think part of your success has to do with how you work the reader's attention, like this complex shifting of the reader's mental gears. Tell your proofreader to work harder, though: "the Soft pack has made the Tower..." and respect this writing from one of the baddest ass writers in this publication!

March 16, 2010

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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