By Dr. Ink
Pow! Bar Dynamite’s happy hour puts free food alongside your suds and liquor. And we’re not talking peanuts. For every drink purchased, the bartender furnishes you with a paper coupon displaying a masked wrestler, good for one free taco at the funky Lucha Libre Mexican eatery next door. Drink heartily, and you’ll be well fed.
A thick row of baby bamboo marks Dynamite’s windowed façade, which will soon make way for paned glass doors that open to the street. Inside, the welcome mat extends to red pleather booths arranged beneath a wildly colorful dragon mural stretching across a large wall opposite the bar. More living greenery sprouts along the front windows. And barren space in the center of the layout renders scads of standing room for crowded nights – or for dancing and sing-alongs on Wednesday evenings, when the unplugged sounds of Tripp take to the floor.
An original number titled “The Jack Off Song” is a customer favorite, said the band’s singer, Steven Esparza, as he imbibed with us while hanging at the bar on a rare Wednesday night that his group wasn’t playing.
“Bummer,” blurted Dr. Ink and cohort as we imagined applying our unlawful singing voices to naughty drinking songs sans any karaoke microphones.
Happy hour caters to weekday bargain hunters, running from 5 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. Customers need only a small lump of pocket money for slugging down domestic beers from bottle or tap for $2 apiece, or Bass, Guinness and wells for $3 each. Had my friend and I exchanged fluids (among our glasses), we could’ve enjoyed the “black and tan” thing. Sticking instead to our singular choices of the imported ales, we soon began accumulating enough taco coupons to cure our dinnertime appetites.
“I am so over the free tacos,” said Esparza, who admitted to often walking home drunk with a belly-full of adobada, the delicious chunky spiced pork that ranks among the meat fillings. But realizing we were newcomers, he enthusiastically encouraged us to “go for it.”
Making a quick jaunt next door to redeem our vouchers, I was greeted by the strange décor of Lucha Libre, where more than a hundred depictions of masked wrestlers dressed in Superman tights appear ready to pick a fight. Photographs and paintings of them in every size surrounded me as I waited out my order. I could almost smell their testosterone with the same clarity as the Guinness on my breath. Needless to say, the atmosphere was buzz-altering and the tacos waterslid down our throats when returning with them to the bar. Excellent drinking food by all accounts!
Katie, the bartender filling in for an employee on a two-month vacation, was young, swift and convivial, greeting us and other customers as a nurturing house host would when leading you to the living room liquor cabinet. But this is a quasi dive joint, a little rough around the edges, though with an appealing vibe that has been affording patrons with dynamite good times for the past 10 years.
1808 W. Washington St.
San Diego, CA 92103
Happy Hour: 5 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday
Bass and Guinness play starring roles against a beer selection that is commercially domestic. Fans of Bud and Bud Light will find their groove in bottles or from the taps. Well drinks are standard, though obliging, and the wine selection is negligible.
Sustenance comes in the form of free “street tacos” from Lucha Libre next door. Choices include grilled chicken, adobada (chunky spiced pork) and carne asada that was a trifle chewy. Otherwise, all are Tijuana-delicious, especially when mixed and matched to the eight spunky salsas available. The only catch is that you have to fetch the food yourself.
When every purchased drink is rewarded with a tasty mini taco, the establishment deserves top rating. Even better, the drinks bear no hidden costs: $2 for domestic beers from bottle or tap (normally $3), and $3 for Guinness and Bass (normally $5). Well drinks are also $3 (regular prices vary).
Visiting in a slow time slot, we barely needed to motion our eyeballs at the bartender to obtain refills. The rating here is provisional since we didn’t witness the popular cattle lines.
The happy hour extends to 9 p.m., which allows time to tear out of your geeky work clothes for something for comfy and hardcore casual.