What $18 buys
1409 C Street , San Diego
Sign on C Street
This is where professors come to start affairs with their students.
Okay, kidding. But it's easy to imagine. This dive called The Hive sits right across the street from City College. It has a kind of dark hideaway feel, and, hey, for starving students and hard-up associate profs, it sports a pretty darned good happy hour.
I'm sitting at the table next to the steep stairs. You need to be good and sober to get down those suckers in one piece. Plus, don't choose this table. Heckuva draft blows down the stairwell onto the back of your neck.
Art direct on the wall
But atmosphere-wise, great. Dark, with sienna-red walls, and a huge mural of a gnarled old tree that looks like a thin old lady dancing. It reaches up to the rafters which are at street level. We're talking cellar bar here.
Gal comes up. Tia. Looks just like Modigliani's model. Anna? I know because Carla has been ramming some art down my throat yea these last few weeks. Tia hands me the happy hour menu. And wow, even a student could indulge at this one. Sushi rolls, soup and other stuff are all between $1.49 and $3.99.
Seaweed salad is $2.99, one piece of albacore is $1.49. Spicy tuna roll is $3.99. Coco shrimp hand roll's $2.99.
First off though, I order up some happy hour grog. Hey, it's Friday night, and such deals. I get a large pot of hot sake for $2.99, and a 20-ounce Bud Light draft for $3.50 to play the chaser.
"The most filling would be something like the Philadelphia roll," says Tia when I ask. "You get eight pieces on the rolls, and I like the cream cheese on the Philly."
Also have to ask — am I the only person here who doesn't know? — just what a hand roll is. "It's something in a nori cone. Seaweed. So it's easy to pick up in your hand," she says.
The Philly Roll: Something about the cream cheese-salmon combo
She recommends the spider hand roll, because it has soft shell crab legs sticking out the top. So I order it ($2.99), a spicy tuna roll ($3.99), and just to help the sake down, that Philadelphia roll.
Too much, I know, and it all comes to $18.86, but hey, HH and Friday night. Jes' got paid.
The spider hand roll is interesting. It's like "Look Ma, no chopsticks!" And talk about iodine fix. The seaweed wrap has a week's worth. Deep-fried crab legs, sticks of cucumber, and lettuce. Lovely combo.
Spider hand roll
My favorite? Have to say, Tia's right. That cream cheese kicks up the flavor of the salmon in the Philly roll. Yes, it's one of the cliché ones, but, 'specially after you roll it around in the bath of soy and mustard, and slap on some ginger, the cream cheese just nails the combo.
It is a lot, but I make it through. The place is filling up as I fill up. Lots of college talk, but not rarified like in UCSD. Pretty soon we have quite a scene going, the kind where Amedeo Modigliani and his model Anna would have fit right in.
Tip: you don't have to climb those stairs to get out. Just turn into the Nectar Room, the other bar area, and you walk straight onto 14th Street, and the sight of guys whacking each other next door in the City Boxing gym.