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Clem’s Tap House: deelish, and perfect with the Böen Pinot Noir

Dang! They give good pour.

Allison and my pretty massive spicy sausage pizza.
Allison and my pretty massive spicy sausage pizza.

How do you get the best out of happy hour?

Place

Clem's Tap House

4108 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Mandy and I think we have the perfect in: Bleu Bohème in Kensington. She knows the place. It looks expensive and French, but she says if you can make it there by five, you can catch their happy hour, which is just that: one hour of happiness, five until six. Actually, the food is still kinda pricey, but they do knock off a couple of bucks on certain items. 

Really, we just want this ideal scenario: luscious French food and wine in what feels like the middle of the day. The thing I’m looking forward to is the thick wad of rippable French bread you get with dippable HH dishes like moules. That, and a nice glass of HH red wine in Bohème’s cozy country French atmosphere is all I really want. 

But whack!? No tables ready? No happy hour signs?

Mandy prepares for serious eating action.

“Oh, man,” says Mandy as we walk in. There’s no-one, except two wait-staff throwing white tablecloths over tables. 

“We’re not doing happy hour right now,” says the guy, with that practiced nonchalance you’ve gotta have as a waiter in a classy joint. 

“But it says you do, on your website!”

“Oh. Sorry about that.”

“What now, chief?” I say to Mandy. 

Mandy’s the expert around Kensington. “We’ll find a place,” she assures me. But 15 minutes later, we have traipsed through all the obvious alternatives, and most of them are either closed or are Happy-Hour-Free zones.  

Mandy: “Let’s go down here.” 

We turn down this L-shaped alley, passing arch after arch of an arcade, which is now hiding behind a temporary covid exterior. “Clem’s Tap House, 50 On Tap,” says the signage in the pit of the elbow. Impressive. But is it just a drinking joint, or something more? We step in, and then step up to a bar with nice solid-backed stools.  

I can’t believe this, but we forget to ask if these guys have a happy hour. Must be the hunger. We just ask if they have food. (Yes.) And if they have a house red. This guy Paul hauls out two elegant glasses and executes a beautifully generous pour of Böen Pinot Noir, 2019. I mean, I’m a fly-by-wire guy when it comes to wine, but Mandy and I look at each other after this first gulp. OMG. Smooth, warm, kind of earthy, definitely fruity, no acid edge to it, and did I say smooooth? “Beautiful,” I say. Mandy just nods.

Tap List lives up to Clem’s Tap House claims.

Paul — owner, I think — puts the bottle down so we can look at it. California. A blend from Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Monterey counties. My eye catches the words at the bottom of the label. “Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers therefore are true founders of human civilization.” 

Turns out they do have a happy hour. This is $10 a glass, HH price. Man. It’s dangerously easy to glug. 

“Guess we should eat something too,” says Mandy. She is a wise, gutsy lady. She has been all over the world, including bike-riding through Mongolia. “Not afraid of fools or food,” she says. OK. Think she’s saying she’ll put up with me. 

Whatever, we get a menu each. Quick peruse. Uh huh: cheapest seems to be the grilled cheese panini on a toasted ciabatta roll, or the mini quesadillas on corn tortillas ($9.50 each). But most common prices are like $15 (for the Ultimate Veggie Panini) or $18 (for Clem’s Philly: grilled roast beef, onions, shrooms). So, not cheap. Guess we must be in Kensington, Toto. 

Mandy looks up. “Sliders! Why not these sliders? It says you get three for $13. With fries! We could share.” Oh yeah! Boar’s Head Sliders. With tomato, onion and mayo. Chicken or beef. Mandy has already made up her mind. Allison the server looks at me. 

And here, under pressure, I make my biggest mistake. I’ve already spotted the best deal: one of “Clem’s Specialties,” the spicy sausage, topped with jalapeño, bell peppers, red onions on a ciabatta, all for $10! Except I see a pizza go by. I mean, pizzas have been on my meh list for months. And yet, under these two pairs of eyes impatient for a decision, I hear myself saying “Uh, okay, the Baconator pizza (a mix of bacon, cheese and marinara sauce)… Or, no! The Wild Mushroom and Sausage pie! Yes. That one.”

“One of our best pizzas,” says Allison. What I see, too late, is that it costs $18. Like the Baconator.

Great HH deal on wine, sets the flavors of sliders, pizzas.

The balm on all this is that Mandy’s sliders are really big, meat-filled (she chose beef), and all-round generous. She hands me one, and I swear it would be enough. 

But woah! Then comes my pizza. Thick, bubbling, with chunks of spicy sausage, onion, and mushrooms, and melted cheese, of course. Have to say, deelish, and perfect with the Böen Pinot Noir. I’m man enough to say we get another glass. (Mandy takes two sips. I have the rest. She’s driving.) 

Of course, there’s a ton of food, period. Mandy takes home one of the three sliders. I eat the other. And the pizza? I pack what must be half a dozen slices. It is spicy, cheesy, meaty, moist, and crunchy in the crust. But above all, lushly sweet-savory. Oh boy. 

Next time, I might try the green apple and Brie pizza ($16), and I definitely will try something from theose 50 beers they say they have on tap. Guess they call themselves a tap house for good reason. But I’m inclined to call it Clem’s “Pour” House, because, dang! They give good pour.

  • The Place: Clem’s Tap House, 4108 Adams Avenue, North Park, 619 255-4526
  • Hours: 11am-10pm daily (till 12am, Friday, Saturday)
  • Prices: Grilled cheese panini, $9.50; mini quesadillas on corn tortillas, $9.50; Ultimate Veggie Panini, $15; Clem’s Philly (grilled roast beef, onions, shrooms), $18; sliders with fries, three for $13; the Baconator (bacon, cheese marinara sauce), $18; Wild Mushroom and Sausage pizza, $18; green apple and Brie cheese pizza, $16; queso tacos (chicken or roast beef) on corn tortillas, $11 
  • Bus: 11
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Marlborough and Adams
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Louvar and moonfish surprise the locals
Allison and my pretty massive spicy sausage pizza.
Allison and my pretty massive spicy sausage pizza.

How do you get the best out of happy hour?

Place

Clem's Tap House

4108 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Mandy and I think we have the perfect in: Bleu Bohème in Kensington. She knows the place. It looks expensive and French, but she says if you can make it there by five, you can catch their happy hour, which is just that: one hour of happiness, five until six. Actually, the food is still kinda pricey, but they do knock off a couple of bucks on certain items. 

Really, we just want this ideal scenario: luscious French food and wine in what feels like the middle of the day. The thing I’m looking forward to is the thick wad of rippable French bread you get with dippable HH dishes like moules. That, and a nice glass of HH red wine in Bohème’s cozy country French atmosphere is all I really want. 

But whack!? No tables ready? No happy hour signs?

Mandy prepares for serious eating action.

“Oh, man,” says Mandy as we walk in. There’s no-one, except two wait-staff throwing white tablecloths over tables. 

“We’re not doing happy hour right now,” says the guy, with that practiced nonchalance you’ve gotta have as a waiter in a classy joint. 

“But it says you do, on your website!”

“Oh. Sorry about that.”

“What now, chief?” I say to Mandy. 

Mandy’s the expert around Kensington. “We’ll find a place,” she assures me. But 15 minutes later, we have traipsed through all the obvious alternatives, and most of them are either closed or are Happy-Hour-Free zones.  

Mandy: “Let’s go down here.” 

We turn down this L-shaped alley, passing arch after arch of an arcade, which is now hiding behind a temporary covid exterior. “Clem’s Tap House, 50 On Tap,” says the signage in the pit of the elbow. Impressive. But is it just a drinking joint, or something more? We step in, and then step up to a bar with nice solid-backed stools.  

I can’t believe this, but we forget to ask if these guys have a happy hour. Must be the hunger. We just ask if they have food. (Yes.) And if they have a house red. This guy Paul hauls out two elegant glasses and executes a beautifully generous pour of Böen Pinot Noir, 2019. I mean, I’m a fly-by-wire guy when it comes to wine, but Mandy and I look at each other after this first gulp. OMG. Smooth, warm, kind of earthy, definitely fruity, no acid edge to it, and did I say smooooth? “Beautiful,” I say. Mandy just nods.

Tap List lives up to Clem’s Tap House claims.

Paul — owner, I think — puts the bottle down so we can look at it. California. A blend from Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Monterey counties. My eye catches the words at the bottom of the label. “Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers therefore are true founders of human civilization.” 

Turns out they do have a happy hour. This is $10 a glass, HH price. Man. It’s dangerously easy to glug. 

“Guess we should eat something too,” says Mandy. She is a wise, gutsy lady. She has been all over the world, including bike-riding through Mongolia. “Not afraid of fools or food,” she says. OK. Think she’s saying she’ll put up with me. 

Whatever, we get a menu each. Quick peruse. Uh huh: cheapest seems to be the grilled cheese panini on a toasted ciabatta roll, or the mini quesadillas on corn tortillas ($9.50 each). But most common prices are like $15 (for the Ultimate Veggie Panini) or $18 (for Clem’s Philly: grilled roast beef, onions, shrooms). So, not cheap. Guess we must be in Kensington, Toto. 

Mandy looks up. “Sliders! Why not these sliders? It says you get three for $13. With fries! We could share.” Oh yeah! Boar’s Head Sliders. With tomato, onion and mayo. Chicken or beef. Mandy has already made up her mind. Allison the server looks at me. 

And here, under pressure, I make my biggest mistake. I’ve already spotted the best deal: one of “Clem’s Specialties,” the spicy sausage, topped with jalapeño, bell peppers, red onions on a ciabatta, all for $10! Except I see a pizza go by. I mean, pizzas have been on my meh list for months. And yet, under these two pairs of eyes impatient for a decision, I hear myself saying “Uh, okay, the Baconator pizza (a mix of bacon, cheese and marinara sauce)… Or, no! The Wild Mushroom and Sausage pie! Yes. That one.”

“One of our best pizzas,” says Allison. What I see, too late, is that it costs $18. Like the Baconator.

Great HH deal on wine, sets the flavors of sliders, pizzas.

The balm on all this is that Mandy’s sliders are really big, meat-filled (she chose beef), and all-round generous. She hands me one, and I swear it would be enough. 

But woah! Then comes my pizza. Thick, bubbling, with chunks of spicy sausage, onion, and mushrooms, and melted cheese, of course. Have to say, deelish, and perfect with the Böen Pinot Noir. I’m man enough to say we get another glass. (Mandy takes two sips. I have the rest. She’s driving.) 

Of course, there’s a ton of food, period. Mandy takes home one of the three sliders. I eat the other. And the pizza? I pack what must be half a dozen slices. It is spicy, cheesy, meaty, moist, and crunchy in the crust. But above all, lushly sweet-savory. Oh boy. 

Next time, I might try the green apple and Brie pizza ($16), and I definitely will try something from theose 50 beers they say they have on tap. Guess they call themselves a tap house for good reason. But I’m inclined to call it Clem’s “Pour” House, because, dang! They give good pour.

  • The Place: Clem’s Tap House, 4108 Adams Avenue, North Park, 619 255-4526
  • Hours: 11am-10pm daily (till 12am, Friday, Saturday)
  • Prices: Grilled cheese panini, $9.50; mini quesadillas on corn tortillas, $9.50; Ultimate Veggie Panini, $15; Clem’s Philly (grilled roast beef, onions, shrooms), $18; sliders with fries, three for $13; the Baconator (bacon, cheese marinara sauce), $18; Wild Mushroom and Sausage pizza, $18; green apple and Brie cheese pizza, $16; queso tacos (chicken or roast beef) on corn tortillas, $11 
  • Bus: 11
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Marlborough and Adams
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