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Hob Nob Hill happy hour: Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey with a Mother Earth Nitro Vanilla Cream beer chaser

This is probably the first whiskey I have actually liked.

They’re ba-ack! Fresh-painted Wizard of Oz mural keeps it nostalgic.
They’re ba-ack! Fresh-painted Wizard of Oz mural keeps it nostalgic.

“Let me get this right,” I say to this fellow Jeff. “You’re offering me a shot of whiskey and a can of beer for $6. Six bucks?”

Place

Hob Nob Hill

2271 First Avenue, 4, San Diego

“Yes, sir, that’s it,” says Jeff. He’s the bar manager here. “We’re kind of enticing people back to eating out. 'Specially in happy hour.”

Didn’t expect this here. My friend Annie and I are outside one of the institutions here on Banker’s Hill. It’s honestly a place where you’d expect to see bankers and their frauen, meeting at the end of the day for a glass of wine as they count their piles of money.

Jeff: Covid enabled compete refresh of this 78-year-old eatery.

Still, how many times have I marched past this place and thought “This is über Old School. Must go in here sometime.” Because the sign says “Hob Nob Hill,” and it has been here and open since — get this — 1944. That’s nearly eighty years. I start imagining sailors and soldiers 80 years ago, trooping into this very place for a drink with their hot dates while World War II was raging across the sea. They say this is the oldest restaurant still in the same location in all of San Diego.

One good thing about covid: the closure gave the owners an opportunity for a major facelift. I pop my head around. Ooh. Sure looks fresh. And they have a happy hour from 3-6 every weekday. “Let’s just go in and see,” I say to Annie. “Because, hey, happy hour can’t be bad, right?”

Sponsored
Sponsored

“Long as it’s not just dried-up chicken wings,” says Annie.

Most popular soup. At $6, this minestrone sells out.

We risk it. Inside the place is all black, gray, and white, except for one nice touch: the cushions and the waiters’ aprons are a bright teal green. Tabletops are marble. Classy. My one worry: this is gonna be above my pay grade. My one hope: this is happy hour.

We sit at one of the gray and silver booths and look at the Happy Hour menu. At first glance, it seems standard fare. They have $4, $5, $6, $7 choices. The $4 includes a Bud Light, Coors Banquet, and mimosas. The $5, Stella, house Cabernet, and a basket of frings — French fries and onion rings. It’s only when we get to $6 that we start talking serious nosh, like soup of the day — today’s is minestrone — or an avocado special. Natch, you get most food in the $7 section, like a quarter-pounder “Carlito’s Way” burger, or a half-order of fish and chips.

Jeff’s got his order book out. Annie knows what she wants. “I’ll take the $7 salad, the $5 frings…and the $6 minestrone soup.” She also takes a Moscow Mule for eight bucks. So it does add up. Me, I go for the $7 burger. This is when I notice the $6 happy hour boilermaker in the HH list. Hmm. Beer, shot of whisky, $6. Not a bad price…what da heck. I order one.

The $7 “Carlito’s Way” burger has cheese, bacon, and a sweet-tangy BBQ sauce.

We split the frings and the salad (delicious pilings of chicken, bacon, tomato chunks, scrambled eggs, chicken and bleu cheese), and I have at the burger. For starters, that quarter-pound is surely enough, and second, there’s a little sausage flavor in there, along with a sweet BBQ tang. Plus the bun is nicely toasted.

But the real news for me in all this is the nice full shot glass of whiskey. Confession: I never really liked that danged heathy, peaty liquid. Until now. This one is rich and sweet like a liqueur, oh-so seductive.

“It’s a peanut butter whiskey,” says Jeff.

Say what?

“Yes. It’s a peanut butter whiskey. An invention from San Diego.”

It turns out that this is an extraordinary story. This guy Steven Yeng is a Cambodian-American who lived his childhood through the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, and despite contracting polio and being confined to a wheelchair while growing up in the refugee camps, he made it with his family to Ocean Beach. From the early care baskets his family received, he started to improve — and to fall in love with peanut butter. It was while he and his family were operating a couple of restaurants in OB that they came up with the idea of incorporating peanut butter into everything from drinks to wings to fried rice. They launched Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey in 2019, say they have sold an incredible million cases in their first two years, and are already known for the charities they give to — including helping mothers and children fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Whatever the story, this is probably the first whiskey I have actually liked. And for your six bucks, you get this can of Mother Earth Nitro Vanilla Cream beer to drink as the chaser.

The sweetness of the PB whiskey really works with the burger. In fact, this whole place really works. Yes, old school, laced with history, but at the same time, new, and bright. And, turns out, it is open for breakfast every day from seven. Next time: brekky, and outside in the sun on the patio. Or maybe dinner, if we’re feeling flush. “We do a prime rib, Thursdays thru Sundays,” says Jeff.

“Oh wow. Happy Hour?”

“Uh no. More like $23. But lots of fixings.”

Annie takes a sip from my PB whiskey. “Ooh. Sweet,” she says, “Of course, my Edinburgh ancestors would turn over in their graves at this whiskey, but hey, we’re in a New World out here.”

  • The Place: Hob Nob Hill, 2271 First Avenue, Banker’s Hill, 619-239-8176
  • Hours: 7 am to 10 pm daily
  • Prices: Two breakfast eggs, sausages, $14.50; breakfast burrito, eggs, potatoes, $13; corned beef hash, Belgian waffle, $11; grilled ham and cheese, $13; tuna salad sandwich, $14; Hob Nob burger (avo, cheese, bacon), $17.50;
  • Happy Hour (3-6pm, M-F) Prices: basket of frings - French fries, $5; soup of the day, $6; avocado special, $6; quarter-pounder “Carlito’s Way” burger, $7; half-order of fish and chips, $7; Hob Nob fries, $7; small cob salad, $7
  • Hours: 7am - 10pm daily
  • Buses: 11
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 1st at Ivy or Juniper

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They’re ba-ack! Fresh-painted Wizard of Oz mural keeps it nostalgic.
They’re ba-ack! Fresh-painted Wizard of Oz mural keeps it nostalgic.

“Let me get this right,” I say to this fellow Jeff. “You’re offering me a shot of whiskey and a can of beer for $6. Six bucks?”

Place

Hob Nob Hill

2271 First Avenue, 4, San Diego

“Yes, sir, that’s it,” says Jeff. He’s the bar manager here. “We’re kind of enticing people back to eating out. 'Specially in happy hour.”

Didn’t expect this here. My friend Annie and I are outside one of the institutions here on Banker’s Hill. It’s honestly a place where you’d expect to see bankers and their frauen, meeting at the end of the day for a glass of wine as they count their piles of money.

Jeff: Covid enabled compete refresh of this 78-year-old eatery.

Still, how many times have I marched past this place and thought “This is über Old School. Must go in here sometime.” Because the sign says “Hob Nob Hill,” and it has been here and open since — get this — 1944. That’s nearly eighty years. I start imagining sailors and soldiers 80 years ago, trooping into this very place for a drink with their hot dates while World War II was raging across the sea. They say this is the oldest restaurant still in the same location in all of San Diego.

One good thing about covid: the closure gave the owners an opportunity for a major facelift. I pop my head around. Ooh. Sure looks fresh. And they have a happy hour from 3-6 every weekday. “Let’s just go in and see,” I say to Annie. “Because, hey, happy hour can’t be bad, right?”

Sponsored
Sponsored

“Long as it’s not just dried-up chicken wings,” says Annie.

Most popular soup. At $6, this minestrone sells out.

We risk it. Inside the place is all black, gray, and white, except for one nice touch: the cushions and the waiters’ aprons are a bright teal green. Tabletops are marble. Classy. My one worry: this is gonna be above my pay grade. My one hope: this is happy hour.

We sit at one of the gray and silver booths and look at the Happy Hour menu. At first glance, it seems standard fare. They have $4, $5, $6, $7 choices. The $4 includes a Bud Light, Coors Banquet, and mimosas. The $5, Stella, house Cabernet, and a basket of frings — French fries and onion rings. It’s only when we get to $6 that we start talking serious nosh, like soup of the day — today’s is minestrone — or an avocado special. Natch, you get most food in the $7 section, like a quarter-pounder “Carlito’s Way” burger, or a half-order of fish and chips.

Jeff’s got his order book out. Annie knows what she wants. “I’ll take the $7 salad, the $5 frings…and the $6 minestrone soup.” She also takes a Moscow Mule for eight bucks. So it does add up. Me, I go for the $7 burger. This is when I notice the $6 happy hour boilermaker in the HH list. Hmm. Beer, shot of whisky, $6. Not a bad price…what da heck. I order one.

The $7 “Carlito’s Way” burger has cheese, bacon, and a sweet-tangy BBQ sauce.

We split the frings and the salad (delicious pilings of chicken, bacon, tomato chunks, scrambled eggs, chicken and bleu cheese), and I have at the burger. For starters, that quarter-pound is surely enough, and second, there’s a little sausage flavor in there, along with a sweet BBQ tang. Plus the bun is nicely toasted.

But the real news for me in all this is the nice full shot glass of whiskey. Confession: I never really liked that danged heathy, peaty liquid. Until now. This one is rich and sweet like a liqueur, oh-so seductive.

“It’s a peanut butter whiskey,” says Jeff.

Say what?

“Yes. It’s a peanut butter whiskey. An invention from San Diego.”

It turns out that this is an extraordinary story. This guy Steven Yeng is a Cambodian-American who lived his childhood through the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia, and despite contracting polio and being confined to a wheelchair while growing up in the refugee camps, he made it with his family to Ocean Beach. From the early care baskets his family received, he started to improve — and to fall in love with peanut butter. It was while he and his family were operating a couple of restaurants in OB that they came up with the idea of incorporating peanut butter into everything from drinks to wings to fried rice. They launched Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey in 2019, say they have sold an incredible million cases in their first two years, and are already known for the charities they give to — including helping mothers and children fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Whatever the story, this is probably the first whiskey I have actually liked. And for your six bucks, you get this can of Mother Earth Nitro Vanilla Cream beer to drink as the chaser.

The sweetness of the PB whiskey really works with the burger. In fact, this whole place really works. Yes, old school, laced with history, but at the same time, new, and bright. And, turns out, it is open for breakfast every day from seven. Next time: brekky, and outside in the sun on the patio. Or maybe dinner, if we’re feeling flush. “We do a prime rib, Thursdays thru Sundays,” says Jeff.

“Oh wow. Happy Hour?”

“Uh no. More like $23. But lots of fixings.”

Annie takes a sip from my PB whiskey. “Ooh. Sweet,” she says, “Of course, my Edinburgh ancestors would turn over in their graves at this whiskey, but hey, we’re in a New World out here.”

  • The Place: Hob Nob Hill, 2271 First Avenue, Banker’s Hill, 619-239-8176
  • Hours: 7 am to 10 pm daily
  • Prices: Two breakfast eggs, sausages, $14.50; breakfast burrito, eggs, potatoes, $13; corned beef hash, Belgian waffle, $11; grilled ham and cheese, $13; tuna salad sandwich, $14; Hob Nob burger (avo, cheese, bacon), $17.50;
  • Happy Hour (3-6pm, M-F) Prices: basket of frings - French fries, $5; soup of the day, $6; avocado special, $6; quarter-pounder “Carlito’s Way” burger, $7; half-order of fish and chips, $7; Hob Nob fries, $7; small cob salad, $7
  • Hours: 7am - 10pm daily
  • Buses: 11
  • Nearest Bus Stops: 1st at Ivy or Juniper
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