The wheel of happy hour fortune
10053 Maine Avenue, San Diego
Outside, you’d never know it. But this is the spot where Mr. La Madrid used to build stagecoaches, here on the corner of Maine and Laurel in Lakeside, 100 years ago. “In 1916,” says a little plaque, “this was La Madrid’s blacksmithy where horses were shod/stagecoaches built.” Plus of course, we’re also right near the Lakeside Rodeo Arena. So, this is cowboy country. And inside “Eastbound,” for sure, you feel the wild west spirit alive and well. It’s Friday. Happy hour. The wheel is spinning.
“And yes, Richie’s going to do it!” calls a gal through the mike. “$4 Screwball? Dollar boat of fries? Free popcorn? $3 sake bombs? Spin that wheel, Richie!”
Richie, the guy in the Vans hoodie and shades, hauls that wheel around. It’s on the back wall, right next to the old photo of the El Capitan High Vaqueros football team.
“Alright! It’s a $2 Coors bottle! Good job. $2 Coors bottle, everybody. Why not chase it with a Tullamore Dew?”
Richie comes back to swing aboard his stool at the corner of the square bar. The spin happens every half hour during Happy Hour.
Me, natch, interested in food, but also interested in grog. Like the sign says,
“Alcohol may not solve your problems. But then again, neither will water.” I get a Karl Strauss Boat Shoes Hazy IPA. Costs $7 but you get $3 off during happy hour, so $4. Good deal.
Hmm. Casting eyes about the menu. Big. I mean, you know it’s gonna be bar and grill comfort food all the way, so just go with it.
“My head says gym, but my heart says burgers,” says the bon mot on the menu. Burgers are front and center. And looks like half-pounders are it. “The Rodeo” has American cheese, bacon, smoky BBQ sauce, plus onion rings, for $12.95, but you can save a buck by going for a third- pounder patty). Also, you can substitute a chicken breast or black bean patty.
“Sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to diss a brie?” This is beside the grilled cheese burger, a half-pounder with American, Swiss, and bacon on an inside-out kaiser roll, also $12.95.
They have a bunch of pizzas, all going for $13.95. And sandwiches are $10.95. Like, La Madrid’s Philly, which is marinated steak, grilled onions and cheese whiz on a toasted roll. And they have “street tacos” like chicken or carne, four for $8.95.
Four sliders. It’s the sweet Hawaiian buns that make them so delish
But the gal next to me, Emma, has just ordered up a bowl of pozole. “Cost me $8.95,” she says. She’s waiting to go pick up her kids from — wow — Mandarin class at school. “They’ve been learning it ten years,” she says. “They rattle it off like it’s their native language. I have learned a little, but I can’t keep up.”
Man. That’s really impressive.
And so’s the pozole. I always think of it as a soup. But it’s way more. Tons of meat chunks, tons of hominy grits. “I’ll have what she’s having,” I tell Alysha, the barkeep.
My pozole comes with three thick corn tortillas wrapped hot in paper, plus bowls of chopped onions, cilantro, and sour cream.
“I make pozole too,” says Richie. He’s sitting on my right. “Pork butt, hominy, garlic, red roux. Sometimes I add tomatoes and celery. Cook it slowly, six to eight hours. And I make my own hot sauce too. Dried red chili peppers, soak ’em in vinegar. Bit of hot water, put the Vitamix on soup setting, add garlic and you’re home free.”
The bottle of Cholula I have to use sounds tame by comparison, but with the sour cream and cilantro and a ton of hominy, it’s good. Honestly, I’m trying to tell if my meat is pork or beef, but with plenty of it, nice and hot, this is a fabbo meal for a chilly day.
Turns out Richie doesn’t just cook up pozole. He also cooks cannabis. He’s a commercial pot grower. “Since it became legal, we can’t keep up,” he says. He talks of how much good it does. “I have arthritis. It really helps. And they’re using cannabis now to help get people off opiates.”
Place is getting packed, even though it’s only around 2:30 in the afternoon. “You should see it tonight,” says Alysha. “Friday nights, it gets loud.”
Wow. My kind of scene. But I should end it here. Tons of stuff to do. Except, they have this “Lakesliders” deal going. Four sliders, with American cheese, grilled onions, “house-made chipotle sauce,” on Hawaiian sweet rolls, $11.95.
That appeals to me. The sweet thing. I order them. Richie takes another beer. Societe. The Pupil. “So-o good,” he says. “Kinda fruity for an IPA.” And again, only four buckeroos. As I chomp into my second and last slider, I start thinking about all the rodeo riders who must come in here, and then about all the cowboys and miners who must have passed up and down this street, and the music and rebel calls that must have yipped out of saloon doors. ’Cause everybody came to Lakeside. Lake Lindo was — is — San Diego’s only natural lake.
“‘Stressed’ is ‘Desserts’ spelled backwards,” says the section header for desserts, and man I’m tempted by the Eastbound Brownie. “Giant brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, peanuts, chocolate, and caramel drizzle ($9.95).” But stomach’s bursting and wallet’s anorexic. Just have to hope they still have it next time I ride into town.
- The Place: Eastbound Bar and Grill, 10053 Maine Avenue, Lakeside, 619-334-2566
- Hours: 8am – 11:00pm, Sunday – Wednesday; 8am – 1am, Thursday - Saturday
- Happy Hour: 2-5pm Monday to Friday
- Prices: Country fried steak breakfast, $10.95; omelet (choice of three items), potatoes or fruit, $9.95; Irish hash breakfast (corned beef and two eggs), $10.95; The 1/2lb Rodeo Burger (cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, onion rings), $12.95, (1/3rd pounder, $11.95); chicken breast burger, $12.95; black bean patty burger, $12.95; 1/2lb grilled cheese burger (with American, Swiss, bacon), $12.95; basil pesto chicken pizza, $13.95; rhinestone cowboy salad (black beans, chicken), $10.95; La Madrid’s Philly sandwich, $10.95; bowl of pozole, $8.95; giant brownie with ice cream, peanuts, chocolate, caramel drizzle, $9.95
- Buses: 848, 891, 892
- Nearest Bus Stops: Maine and Laurel (848); Mapleview and Vine (891, 892)