What’s not to love? Ribs’ll fill you on their own
Mr. Peabody’s gets right to the point. “Please: No Assholes. No Hookers. No Tweekers.”
136 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas
It’s on signs behind the bar. It’s on the backs of tee shirts the bar crew wear. But up here in genteel North County? I’m shocked. Shocked!
A word of caution: if you’re coming by bus, put your walking shoes on. And with North and South Counties running totally different transit systems, the right hand doesn’t know what left hand’s doing. Horse and buggy days! It sucks! No wonder nobody wants to use transit.
I’m up in Moonlight Marketplace, in the hills behind Encinitas. I had to hike nearly half a mile from the 101 bus stop on Highway 101 to get here. Now I’m standing beside the Jolly Clean Giant laundromat, looking for this place my friend Mary says she always eats at while her clothes are washing. “I make sure I wash during Happy Hour,” she says, “because this place has the happy hour to beat all happy hours. I kid you not, kid.”
Tessa and KC
Jolly Clean Giant and a Jersey Mike’s bracket a bar and grill called Mr. Peabody’s, making it look kind of small. But when I go in past couples and families noshing on the patio in the late afternoon sunshine, the dining space inside seems to go back forever. And if voting with your feet counts, these people have got won in a landslide. Place is ker-rowded.
I find a spare seat at the bar, in front of two waitresses who look blurry from the speed at which they’re working. But when one of them, KC, comes up and gives me a happy hour menu, I’ve got one thought after all that hauling butt up the hills: beer. And believe it or not, a draft Bud is what I want, and not because it’s $3 in happy hour (3-6 weekdays). I just don’t need strong flavors or lots of alcohol now. Somehow this hits the spot.
And boy, does that Mary know how to sniff out a bargain. I’m looking at the HH menu. It’s really simple, and there’s not a lot of choice. But that’s its beauty. Domestic draft beers, house wines, and well cocktails are $3 each. Foodwise, tacos — fish, turkey or chicken — are $1.50; chicken wings go for 75 cents each, and — what sounds best of all — they have ribs at 75 cents each.
“Go for two ribs, two wings, and a taco,” Mary said. She used to live up here. “They’ll cost you all of $4.50. Beat that! And believe me, it’ll fill you.”
Setting the rules
’Course now decision time is here, greed steps in, and Tessa, the other waitress comes up with order pad in hand. I ask for the Mary meal, including one fish taco. Then I add an extra mashedpotato taco,, just in case. So we’re up to the outrageous sum of $6. With the cerveza, $9.
I look around. It has a kind of “I Love This Bar” flavor. You can tell from the conversations: this is these folks’ hangout. It has rough timber walls, TVs everywhere, and a rack of cooks, black caps on backwards, working steadily behind the counter. “It’s family-run,” says Tessa, when she brings my food. “I’ve never worked at a place where the cooks take so much pride in their cooking.”
And the name? Who is Mr. Peabody?
“It’s out of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the TV show. The owner’s daughter suggested it when they were opening (in 2003) and trying to think up a name.”
“Thank you, baby,” Tessa says to the gent who’s hoisting himself off his barstool. Gotta be a regular. “I’m usually here Sunday nights for the jazz,” he says. “Tony Ortega! Sax. He toured with Quincy Jones.”
Wow. So next, I take my whole meal outside, just because the horizontal sun looks delicious, and the crowd there seems to be having beaucoup fun.
Am I going to starve? No way. The two ribs have a ton of meat on them, and the wings are bathed in some kind of golden sauce, and they come with a bowl of ranch dressing. Tessa says the sauce has garlic butter and a buffalo sauce base, with cayenne peppers in there too. Ooh, yes. Can feel the heat.
Prime rib: three nights a week. Worth the $13.95
Actually, the ribs could have done it for me on their own. Lush, slightly crunchy, so-o savory.
The tacos have plenty of fresh greenery: chopped lettuce, cilantro, tomato chunks. And you have to love the potato taco. It’s comforting. The fish taco is nice and crunchy and not too fishy. Fact is, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Should have stuck to the $4.50 meal plan.
But can you believe these prices? You feel a generosity about the whole place. For instance, they have a Breakfast Happy Hour with $1.50 breakfast tacos and $1.50 mimosas.
As I finish up, KC is bringing out prime rib dinner specials to the table of four next door (available from 4pm till close, Thursday through Sunday). They include 10-ounce slabs of prime rib, a loaded baked potato, sautéed mushrooms and onions, horseradish, salad, croutons, the whole nine yards. Not bad for $13.99.
Guess that’ll have to be next time. Maybe I can get Mary up here for Tony Ortega. The guy is 91 and still playing sax, every Sunday.
By the time I waddle out, it’s dark. Happy to report that, far as I can tell, it’s been an evening free of assholes, hookers, and tweekers.