By Dr. Ink
The last time I moseyed into what is now the End Zone Sports Bar & Grill, it was under different ownership and named Endzone Pub & Grill.
The suggestion of a “pub” back then was quite misleading in the face of a weak beer list, scant football memorabilia and multiple flat screens airing whatever sporting matches were in season.
Those jock elements still exist. But a few positive changes have been made.
Outside of live major-league games, the flat screens are muted as to allow for tunes to be played from an illuminated wall-mounted juke system that cranks out the likes of Melissa Etheridge, The Pretenders, and Sly & The Family Stone.
For this non-jock who prefers music over scoreboards, such vintage groups heard loudly through fine, crisp speakers kept me happily planted on my bar stool.
Since the establishment was taken over more than a year ago by the owners of the adjacent liquor store, the sidewalk patio has been filled in with reasonably comfortable furniture, and the interior feels warmer thanks to a little bit of added décor.
Also, the beer list better fits North Park’s criteria for quality and quantity. There are now more than two dozen craft beers to choose from, most of them from esteemed local breweries. Better yet, the average cost for a pint is $6, minus $1 during happy hour.
In addition, “mocktails,” wines by the glass, and appetizers are $2 off its regular prices. The latter run between $8 to $14 a plate. The options include everything from steak bites and fish-n-chips to avocado eggs rolls, nachos and loaded French fries.
The low-alcohol cocktails are made with various rice wines that are supposed to mimic different liquors.
I tried a mojito, which appeared like ice water in a mug. The mock rum lacked mojo, and the requisite mint was muddled and strained into the concoction. I could taste it but couldn’t see it.
As far as mock cocktails go, I’ve had better and certainly worse.
Visiting on a Tuesday meant that pairs of tacos (chicken, shrimp, fish or steak) are half off. Herein lies End Zone’s best grub deal considering the taco duos regularly cost between $6 and $8.
I ordered a pair filled generously with cubed chicken breast. They set me back only $3. The meat was slightly under-seasoned, but creamy white sauce and pico de gallo perked it up, along with purple cabbage and shredded cheddar.
If raucous Sunday crowds during football season isn’t your thing, End Zone’s weekday happy hour is less intense and offers some of the best deals on local suds within a 10-block radius.