2907 Shelter Island Drive #108, Point Loma
Hurry-up time: Have to hit happy hour because, well, this is Point Loma. Million-dollar yachts, hundred-dollar eateries. Can’t afford full-freight. I’m here for three days. Work. So, hey, three chances at happy hour happiness!
Day One. Loping up Avenida de Portugal. In this woody, gray, Cape Cod strip mall, I see a sign: “The Wine Pub.”
Wine… pub? Inside is a lot bigger than you’d guess. It angles around the bar to a protected outside patio filled — and ok, this is Friday evening around five — with wine-drinking couples, and others getting stuck into serious nosh. Me, I sit up to the bar next to a distinguished-looking gent. He’s eating some kind of crostini and cheese, and sipping a glass of Chard. On the other side, a guy’s convincing his friends how great Baja is, specially the Guadalupe Valley.
“We have a couple of Guadalupe wines,” says the gal behind the bar, Melissa.
Wow. Unusual. “Any in happy hour?” I say.
“Sorry,” she says. She hands me a little card that says, “4-6pm Happy Hour Food, $5.”
You get four choices: Toasted levain bread with caramelized onions, gorgonzola & sausage; cheese of the day; arugula salad; and pimento cheese crostini. Drinks-wise, they have a couple of whites and a couple of reds, along with draft beers, all $5 each.
“I’d go for the toasted levain,” says Melissa, when I ask. “It has a lot of flavor.”
So I do, plus go for the cheese of the day ($5). This turns out to be a derby sage, which I’ve never heard of. “It’s like a cheddar crossed with bleu,” says Melissa. “Blue cheese except less stinky. From Wisconsin. And it has sage in there too.”
And — also on her rec. — a Cab-Sauv., Cedar Brook from California. And for five bucks, it’s a generous glassful with plenty of guts.
The cheese is okay, though not much of it, but the levain bread, onions, gorgonzola, and sausage are the total champs here. Oozy, crispy, and sweet-savory.
Gerard, next to me, says he gets the $5 pimento cheese crostini every time. Turns out to be a bigtime trucker. Sells them for, like, $125K each. But also, wow, has written a novel about Cuba (Cuba Unchained) which he’s published himself. “I’ve had to keep my day job,” he says.
1125 Rosecrans Street, Point Loma
Day Two. Wednesday. Heading along Rosecrans towards Cañon. Attracted by noise from a place bulging with people. Has half-outside tables, and a long dark interior. Looks cozy. Harbor Town Pub. Someone out here says they have luscious HH barbecue pork sliders at $2 each.
Manage to grab a stool at the bar, under this giant Stars and Stripes bandera stretched across the ceiling. I ask Christe (pronounced “Christie”) if we’re still good for HH. She shakes her head. “But Wednesdays we have an all-day special. Any draft beer with a plate of six wings for $10.”
Huh. I check the chalkboard for local beers. They have a bunch. I pick the Thorn Street Hazy IPA (usually $7.50), and what a combo. The wings are charred, with sweet notes. Christe says something about ginger, plus they come with a bowl of “Dojo sauce,” a sweet chili mix that has a pineapple-habanero thing going on. And my Thorn’s truly hazy, almost milky, like English beer, but hoppy. And it sets those wings off beautifully.
Day 2.5. Next day I’m back here, and make it in time for Happy Hour. Get two $2 sliders, and yes, they’re stuffed with lush, delish, shredded pork that has a definite BBQ vibe. But versus those zingy wings and the hazy Thorn? No contest.
1005 Rosecrans Street #101, Point Loma
Day Three. So now it’s next Monday. I’m at Rosecrans and Talbot. Corner spot’s “Seaside Pho and Grill.” Kind of attractive with red and yellow canopies outside. And one canopy that reads “Happy Hour Specials.”
So, in like Flynn, checking the menu, and I see they have ten HH items, $4 to $8.
“My wife’s a foodie, from Saigon,” says Waco, the guy behind the bar. “So you know the Vietnamese food is for real.”
HH menu starts at $4. That buys you pot stickers or a beef and pineapple roll. For $5 you get two fish tacos or two chicken skewers. For $6, four crispy imperial rolls or small chicken salad, and for $8, coconut curry mussels, or six “jumbo garlic butter wings,” or calamari, or garlic noodles with grilled chicken.
I go for a large cup of green tea ($2.75), with a pot of spare hot water. Then the beef and pineapple roll, and last, garlic noodles.
First surprise is the roll. It’s mainly raw, apart from the beef, and consists of cucumber, sprouts, and pineapple, wrapped in lettuce, so fresh inside the clingy skin, and nicely enhanced by nuoc mam, the Vietnamese fish sauce.
And the garlic noodles with chicken? Garlicky for sure, plenty of chicken, and a meal in themselves. A side of parmesan cheese is nice, too, and some sriracha helps. It is more than enough. Definitely worth $8.
So, hey, Point Loma. So quiet, so deceptive. Everyone’s just passing through here, on their way to the beaches or the bases. Maybe they should stop awhile, in the magic hour.
The Wine Pub
Happy Hour: 4-6pm daily
Happy Hour Prices: Toasted levain with caramelized onions, gorgonzola & sausage; cheese of the day; arugula salad; and pimento cheese crostini, $5 each
Harbor Town Pub
Happy Hour: 3-6pm Monday to Friday
Happy Hour Prices: BBQ pork sliders, $2 each; other specials include Wednesday wing special: any draft beer plus plate of six wings, $10
Seaside Pho & Grill
Happy Hour: 3-6pm daily
Happy Hour Prices: pot stickers, $4; beef, pineapple roll, $4; two fish tacos, $5; two chicken skewers, $5; four crispy imperial rolls, $6; chicken salad, $6; coconut curry mussels, $8; six garlic wings, $8; calamari, $8; garlic noodles, grilled chicken, $8;
Buses: 28, 84
Nearest Bus Stops: Rosecrans at Cañon (28, 84, eastbound); Shelter Island Drive at Rosecrans (28, 84 westbound)