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Clutch Bar’s Bar Monster requests you stay off your phone

“You can drink alone at home. We’re here to talk.”

“I tawt I taw a baw monstah.” - Image by Chris Woo
“I tawt I taw a baw monstah.”

Were it not for the name and the salvaged “CUSTOM SERVICE” sign overlooking the pool table, you might not guess that the Clutch was once an auto shop before becoming a neighborhood bar in the ’60s. Recent memory will recall it as a sketchy dive affectionately known as the Mo (“Morena”) Club. The garage got a tune-up in mid-2015 when owner Robert, a Providence transplant, buffed out Mo’s edges and reopened the location as a polished beer and cocktail lounge.

Place

Clutch Bar

1319 Morena Boulevard, San Diego

Robert offers me a sample of the daily whiskey as he introduces patrons to one another. There’s a woman on her way to do taxes, an older gentleman who calls two his limit and hits the road, and then — what’s this? — a rare sighting of the Bar Monster? Look at this beast!

He comes out of nowhere like an upset timing belt, making loud noises about shots for the whole bar and leaving the entire discography of AC/DC squealing from the vintage jukebox in his wake. He’s a dying breed, big, boisterous Gabriel, who shakes my hand for too long, questions my sexuality, and buys me a shot all in the same breath.

“Fuck this being-on-your-phone shit,” he declares as we cheers our whiskeys, even though nobody is on their phone anyway. “You can drink alone at home. We’re here to talk.”

So we talk about how he used to be racially profiled in East County for driving a low-rider and spent most of high school in juvi, and now he buys shots for everyone that will talk to him as a matter of protocol. There aren’t many left like him. His natural habitat of unruly conversation and the singular urge to booze is grossly endangered. Perhaps sensitive to this fact, Robert gives him our shots on the house. And for about 20 minutes, the Bar Monster thrives here. He elicits names from everyone in earshot in exchange for a piece of forgettable Mötley Crüe trivia and then, migratory creature that he is, he disappears.

The instance seems fairly indicative of how the mood in the small space shifts over the course of the day with the injection of one or two high-octane personalities. Which is to say, your mileage may vary. Regardless, Robert will be there to make sure you don’t feel like a stranger. If you’re lucky, the Bar Monster will be, too.

Prices: pints, $4–7.50; cocktails $6+

Food: free popcorn, several take-out options nearby

Hours: 3pm–2am daily, earlier on football weekends

Happy: all day Monday; Tuesday–Friday, 3–7pm; $1 off everything

Parking: out front, on Morena Boulevard, and on Tecolote

Capacity: 50

All-the-time specials: $9 craft Irish Car Bombs, $8 PBR and Jameson, $6 Rolling Rock and Old Overholt Rye

Daily specials: Monday, all-night happy hour and free pool; Tuesday, $5 Teeling whiskey, trivia, 8pm; Wednesday, $5 Moscow Mules, karaoke, 9pm–1am; Thursday, $5 Orange Crush; Friday, $5 Jim Beam sours; Saturday and Sunday, $6 margaritas

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“I tawt I taw a baw monstah.” - Image by Chris Woo
“I tawt I taw a baw monstah.”

Were it not for the name and the salvaged “CUSTOM SERVICE” sign overlooking the pool table, you might not guess that the Clutch was once an auto shop before becoming a neighborhood bar in the ’60s. Recent memory will recall it as a sketchy dive affectionately known as the Mo (“Morena”) Club. The garage got a tune-up in mid-2015 when owner Robert, a Providence transplant, buffed out Mo’s edges and reopened the location as a polished beer and cocktail lounge.

Place

Clutch Bar

1319 Morena Boulevard, San Diego

Robert offers me a sample of the daily whiskey as he introduces patrons to one another. There’s a woman on her way to do taxes, an older gentleman who calls two his limit and hits the road, and then — what’s this? — a rare sighting of the Bar Monster? Look at this beast!

He comes out of nowhere like an upset timing belt, making loud noises about shots for the whole bar and leaving the entire discography of AC/DC squealing from the vintage jukebox in his wake. He’s a dying breed, big, boisterous Gabriel, who shakes my hand for too long, questions my sexuality, and buys me a shot all in the same breath.

“Fuck this being-on-your-phone shit,” he declares as we cheers our whiskeys, even though nobody is on their phone anyway. “You can drink alone at home. We’re here to talk.”

So we talk about how he used to be racially profiled in East County for driving a low-rider and spent most of high school in juvi, and now he buys shots for everyone that will talk to him as a matter of protocol. There aren’t many left like him. His natural habitat of unruly conversation and the singular urge to booze is grossly endangered. Perhaps sensitive to this fact, Robert gives him our shots on the house. And for about 20 minutes, the Bar Monster thrives here. He elicits names from everyone in earshot in exchange for a piece of forgettable Mötley Crüe trivia and then, migratory creature that he is, he disappears.

The instance seems fairly indicative of how the mood in the small space shifts over the course of the day with the injection of one or two high-octane personalities. Which is to say, your mileage may vary. Regardless, Robert will be there to make sure you don’t feel like a stranger. If you’re lucky, the Bar Monster will be, too.

Prices: pints, $4–7.50; cocktails $6+

Food: free popcorn, several take-out options nearby

Hours: 3pm–2am daily, earlier on football weekends

Happy: all day Monday; Tuesday–Friday, 3–7pm; $1 off everything

Parking: out front, on Morena Boulevard, and on Tecolote

Capacity: 50

All-the-time specials: $9 craft Irish Car Bombs, $8 PBR and Jameson, $6 Rolling Rock and Old Overholt Rye

Daily specials: Monday, all-night happy hour and free pool; Tuesday, $5 Teeling whiskey, trivia, 8pm; Wednesday, $5 Moscow Mules, karaoke, 9pm–1am; Thursday, $5 Orange Crush; Friday, $5 Jim Beam sours; Saturday and Sunday, $6 margaritas

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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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