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Dobermans in Earthquake Park

And hints of stories etched in bar

Outside-inside’s the place to be.
Outside-inside’s the place to be.

“It was beauty that killed the beast,” reads the sentence etched into the blond bar counter.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Place

Storyhouse Spirits

1220 J St, San Diego

On and on. Sayings, thoughts, bon mots, the print stained into the blond wood counter. Every bit of bar space is filled with wisdom, or at least “Huh!” stuff.

It’s all in this old warehouse, which is modern and full of memories at the same time: the Storyhouse distillery. It is a bar, an eatery, and a spirits manufacturing place. Whisky, mostly. And the plant is incredible: steampunk, filled with vats, pipes, mysterious gurgles. Plus, the über-cool crowd here adds a kind of zest to everything.

Stephanie delivers my happy hour slider.

“Listen up and I will tell a story,” one of the bartop sayings reads. “We are all storytellers.” proclaim the beer mats.

I have just heaved in from the Blue Line stop at Park and Market. Missed the #3 bus by a hair. Dang! While I waited, I took a wander. I had been thinking about checking for a HH at Callie, that way-cool and expensive new place down from the trolley stop. Except a) no sign of a happy hour and b) closed anyway. Oh right: this is a Monday.

Then I see a sign at the corner of Park and J. “Distillery - Kitchen,” it says. “Storyhouse Spirits.”

Great! Because they’re open, it’s still only ten to six, and I’ve heard these guys at Storyhouse have a happy hour, four to six. You just know that anything around this gentrifying-on-steroids district is gonna be pricey. I mean, look up the street: UCSD itself has come out of its ivory tower in La Jolla to dip its tootsies in this sea of humanity they call East Village. They built their own block-sized downtown HQ at Park and Market. Gown meets Town! So I’ve got ten minutes to get my HH savings on.

My $5 slider. Notice yummy bacon jam with oozy house source in middle.

Inside, it’s pretty much all bar, black walls, blond wood counter, lots of house spirits on display, plus a rack of tables between us and the sidewalk. Yes, I remember now. This used to be the Kiwi place. Even though I’d be hard-pressed to know what Kiwi food actually is. Whatever, now we’re looking at a concern that has joined the newest gold rush of “spirit houses” — places that make their own spirits and add nosh on the side. Ooh. Check watch: zero minus thirty seconds! I fling myself onto the one free stool.

“Happy Hour?” I wheeze to the bar guy.

“Just,” he says. He shunts one of those menu-splot things you point your camera at. “What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?” says the beer mat. I aim my iPad. And brrrp! Up pops happy hour. Kinda lean on choices, but beggars can’t be choosers. Specially here, because the average non HH food item goes for $13-17. A Margherita pizza’s $17, you pay $12 for two “Surf and Surf” (blackened shrimp and lobster salad) sliders, and a fried chicken sandwich costs $13. And people must like it: for a Monday, this place is rockin.’ Packed already. I’d say a kind of IT crowd. People talking about advertising budgets, running with their Dobermans in Earthquake Park, the latest Apple updates.

But first things first: cecision time is, like, now!

The little HH menu keeps it simple. They call it Bar Bites. “Beef slider, $5, BGB’s...? “Brian’s Garlic Balls,” says Stephanie with no hint of irony; she’s one of the servers. “He was a cook. But the BGBs are off today anyway.”

They were $6. Okay, but we still have a carnitas street taco, a vegan slider, and onion rings, all $5. That’s it, except for cocktail deals, and a can of, uh, Gilly’s Legendary American Lager, $5.

I should choose vegan. But with 30 seconds to go, I ask for the beef slider, the taco, and the Gilly’s. Total spent, fifteen bucks. And guess what? This looks like quality stuff. I check the full price menu for clues about my slider. For $17, it says, you get two 4-ounce Wagyu burgers, with aged white cheddar and — here’s the selling point, for me anyway — bacon jam. Yum! And house sauce. And when Stephanie slides the slider in front of me, I swear, I’m getting one of those 4-ounce burgers for my $5. Because here’s the creamy sauce, onions, the glowing dark bacon jam. I take a chomp. The brioche resists in a delicately petulant way that suddenly relaxes and lets the floodgates open, freeing the sweet and creamy lusciousness of the burger meat itself to race through my mouth.

TF My HH carnitas taco ($5). Green tomatillo avo sauce is the star.jpg

Wow. Waxing poetic here, but it is an experience. Guess ya gotta be hungry to appreciate this. And all the more delicious because I wasn’t expecting it.

The taco is an interesting experience, too: we’re talking shredded carnitas with a squirt of green tomatillo avo sauce, pico de gallo, and the tart bonus of feta cheese.

And guess what? That little slider and taco combo provides enough grub to keep me going. The slider plate sits on top of “It was Beauty that killed the Beast,” and I rejoin, “But it was burger filled my belly.” As for grog, the lager is just enough, and is your typical lager. I do my usual moan about “Where’s Arrogant Bastard (Stone’s pioneering IPA) when you need it?” But actually, this lager lets all those interesting umami flavors have their day in my buccal cavity (heh heh, look it up! I had to).

Hate to leave, but I’ve done my dash. And I’ve got a bus to catch. Best thing: I now have a cool and cheap go-to place to drop in on next time I miss the #3 stretch limo. As long as I miss it during Happy Hour.

  • The Place: Storyhouse Spirits, 1220 J Street, 619-241-2780
  • Hours: 4-10pm, Monday-Thursday; 4-11pm Friday; 12-11pm Saturday; 12-10pm Sunday
  • Happy Hour Prices: Beef slider, $5; BGB’s, (Brian’s Garlic Balls), $6; carnitas street taco, $5; vegan slider, $5; SH Onion rings, $5; Gilly’s Legendary American Lager, $5;
  • Non Happy Hour Prices: two **4**four-ounce wagyu burgers, $17; Margherita pizza, $17; two “Surf and Surf” (blackened shrimp and lobster salad) sliders, $12; fried chicken sandwich, $13
  • Buses: 3, 12, 901 929
  • Nearest bus stops: Park and Market (3); 11th and Market (12, 901, 929);
  • Trolleys: Blue Line, Orange Line
  • Nearest trolley stop: Park and Market
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New owners, new life for Palms, Windsor, and Friendship Hotels

Oldest continuously run hotel in San Diego among purchased properties
Outside-inside’s the place to be.
Outside-inside’s the place to be.

“It was beauty that killed the beast,” reads the sentence etched into the blond bar counter.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Place

Storyhouse Spirits

1220 J St, San Diego

On and on. Sayings, thoughts, bon mots, the print stained into the blond wood counter. Every bit of bar space is filled with wisdom, or at least “Huh!” stuff.

It’s all in this old warehouse, which is modern and full of memories at the same time: the Storyhouse distillery. It is a bar, an eatery, and a spirits manufacturing place. Whisky, mostly. And the plant is incredible: steampunk, filled with vats, pipes, mysterious gurgles. Plus, the über-cool crowd here adds a kind of zest to everything.

Stephanie delivers my happy hour slider.

“Listen up and I will tell a story,” one of the bartop sayings reads. “We are all storytellers.” proclaim the beer mats.

I have just heaved in from the Blue Line stop at Park and Market. Missed the #3 bus by a hair. Dang! While I waited, I took a wander. I had been thinking about checking for a HH at Callie, that way-cool and expensive new place down from the trolley stop. Except a) no sign of a happy hour and b) closed anyway. Oh right: this is a Monday.

Then I see a sign at the corner of Park and J. “Distillery - Kitchen,” it says. “Storyhouse Spirits.”

Great! Because they’re open, it’s still only ten to six, and I’ve heard these guys at Storyhouse have a happy hour, four to six. You just know that anything around this gentrifying-on-steroids district is gonna be pricey. I mean, look up the street: UCSD itself has come out of its ivory tower in La Jolla to dip its tootsies in this sea of humanity they call East Village. They built their own block-sized downtown HQ at Park and Market. Gown meets Town! So I’ve got ten minutes to get my HH savings on.

My $5 slider. Notice yummy bacon jam with oozy house source in middle.

Inside, it’s pretty much all bar, black walls, blond wood counter, lots of house spirits on display, plus a rack of tables between us and the sidewalk. Yes, I remember now. This used to be the Kiwi place. Even though I’d be hard-pressed to know what Kiwi food actually is. Whatever, now we’re looking at a concern that has joined the newest gold rush of “spirit houses” — places that make their own spirits and add nosh on the side. Ooh. Check watch: zero minus thirty seconds! I fling myself onto the one free stool.

“Happy Hour?” I wheeze to the bar guy.

“Just,” he says. He shunts one of those menu-splot things you point your camera at. “What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?” says the beer mat. I aim my iPad. And brrrp! Up pops happy hour. Kinda lean on choices, but beggars can’t be choosers. Specially here, because the average non HH food item goes for $13-17. A Margherita pizza’s $17, you pay $12 for two “Surf and Surf” (blackened shrimp and lobster salad) sliders, and a fried chicken sandwich costs $13. And people must like it: for a Monday, this place is rockin.’ Packed already. I’d say a kind of IT crowd. People talking about advertising budgets, running with their Dobermans in Earthquake Park, the latest Apple updates.

But first things first: cecision time is, like, now!

The little HH menu keeps it simple. They call it Bar Bites. “Beef slider, $5, BGB’s...? “Brian’s Garlic Balls,” says Stephanie with no hint of irony; she’s one of the servers. “He was a cook. But the BGBs are off today anyway.”

They were $6. Okay, but we still have a carnitas street taco, a vegan slider, and onion rings, all $5. That’s it, except for cocktail deals, and a can of, uh, Gilly’s Legendary American Lager, $5.

I should choose vegan. But with 30 seconds to go, I ask for the beef slider, the taco, and the Gilly’s. Total spent, fifteen bucks. And guess what? This looks like quality stuff. I check the full price menu for clues about my slider. For $17, it says, you get two 4-ounce Wagyu burgers, with aged white cheddar and — here’s the selling point, for me anyway — bacon jam. Yum! And house sauce. And when Stephanie slides the slider in front of me, I swear, I’m getting one of those 4-ounce burgers for my $5. Because here’s the creamy sauce, onions, the glowing dark bacon jam. I take a chomp. The brioche resists in a delicately petulant way that suddenly relaxes and lets the floodgates open, freeing the sweet and creamy lusciousness of the burger meat itself to race through my mouth.

TF My HH carnitas taco ($5). Green tomatillo avo sauce is the star.jpg

Wow. Waxing poetic here, but it is an experience. Guess ya gotta be hungry to appreciate this. And all the more delicious because I wasn’t expecting it.

The taco is an interesting experience, too: we’re talking shredded carnitas with a squirt of green tomatillo avo sauce, pico de gallo, and the tart bonus of feta cheese.

And guess what? That little slider and taco combo provides enough grub to keep me going. The slider plate sits on top of “It was Beauty that killed the Beast,” and I rejoin, “But it was burger filled my belly.” As for grog, the lager is just enough, and is your typical lager. I do my usual moan about “Where’s Arrogant Bastard (Stone’s pioneering IPA) when you need it?” But actually, this lager lets all those interesting umami flavors have their day in my buccal cavity (heh heh, look it up! I had to).

Hate to leave, but I’ve done my dash. And I’ve got a bus to catch. Best thing: I now have a cool and cheap go-to place to drop in on next time I miss the #3 stretch limo. As long as I miss it during Happy Hour.

  • The Place: Storyhouse Spirits, 1220 J Street, 619-241-2780
  • Hours: 4-10pm, Monday-Thursday; 4-11pm Friday; 12-11pm Saturday; 12-10pm Sunday
  • Happy Hour Prices: Beef slider, $5; BGB’s, (Brian’s Garlic Balls), $6; carnitas street taco, $5; vegan slider, $5; SH Onion rings, $5; Gilly’s Legendary American Lager, $5;
  • Non Happy Hour Prices: two **4**four-ounce wagyu burgers, $17; Margherita pizza, $17; two “Surf and Surf” (blackened shrimp and lobster salad) sliders, $12; fried chicken sandwich, $13
  • Buses: 3, 12, 901 929
  • Nearest bus stops: Park and Market (3); 11th and Market (12, 901, 929);
  • Trolleys: Blue Line, Orange Line
  • Nearest trolley stop: Park and Market
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