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Don’t they always say: It’s the poor who pay? The rich don’t have to?

Here at McCormick and Schmick’s (675 L Street, in the Omni Hotel downtown, 619-645-6545), I’m testing this out. They’re a chain of business-class eateries that stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Swing up to the bar, quarter of seven, still just in happy hour (3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m., daily). Place is crowded with baseball fans and a bunch of conventioneers attending a weight-loss marketing outfit named Isagenix. They have their green plastic shake bottles with them.


Ann, Barbara, Isagenix conventioneers

Luckily, the baseball fans are emptying out to get to the ballpark next door in time for the game. So I sit up, and because time’s running out, order a half-pound cheeseburger, some black mussels, and two blackened fish tacos.


Half-pound burger and fries


Mussels in white wine and curry sauce


Fish tacos

Madness, in this swish noshery? Nuh uh. Turns out they do a real loss-leader deal for bar food.

The burger’s $2.95, the mussels are $3.95, and so are the two tacos.

The rub? You’ve gotta buy a drink of $3.50 or more. I get a Karl Strauss Red Trolley — their only local draft — ($5).

Still, I know I’ve gone way over the top food and cash-wise — nearly a Jackson’s worth — when the burger arrives, and the mussels, and the tacos.

Lucky for me, I’ve got talking to Ann and Barbara, Isogenix ladies. They agree to have at least some of the French fries.

The best item’s the black mussels in a white wine and curry sauce. But the burger’s fine and the tacos are a good mess with plenty of cabbage, pico de gallo salsa, and a limey cream.

What I missed? For just under five bucks I could have had blackened two chicken taquitos or two mahi mahi sliders with caramelized onions.

But hey, I confess: tonight was greed. I coulda done fine on the half-pound cheeseburger. With the beer that would have been eight clams.

My punishment? Stuffed halfway, but can’t leave till I’ve eaten the last mussel, the final fry.

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