By Dr. Ink
A friend of mine, Joe Gorst, who hits the drinking and dining scene regularly with his husband, Rik Nelson, snatched the words right out of my booze-soaked brain in describing Uptown Tavern.
“It’s very people-focused. And the drinks and food fit the space perfectly. The whole package works,” he said.
Gorst and Nelson were among a group of us that turned out for a friend’s 50th birthday party recently, held beneath panels of skylights in the tavern’s quaint backroom, which features reprinted pages of The New York Times dating back to the 1930s as wallpaper. A close look at some of the advertisements reveal women’s coats selling for under $4 and cigarettes going for 35 cents a pack.
For those of us who arrived before 7 p.m., all drinks were 50 percent cheaper than normal, except for bottles of wine, the tavern’s big, boozy “fishbowls” and one particular draft beer of a label I can’t remember. Otherwise, you name it, and you got it.
“Even top shelf gin?” I asked the socially polished bartender when inquiring about the price of a Bombay Sapphire martini with three olives tossed in.
“Yes, we bring it down halfway,” he replied suggestively.
And so there I was, throwing back two of the martinis for only $5.40 apiece before they rose to full price. To no surprise, I later learned that each contained traditional two-ounce pours of the gin. Hence, my initial greeting to the birthday girl was rather loud and sloppy.
The friend I arrived with managed to throw down a glass of well-structured Josh Cabernet from the Central Coast ($5) and a pint of Wipeout by Port Brewery ($3.25) before happy hour ended. He was content on both counts.
For those in our group arriving only minutes before drinks switched to full price, the bartender jumped into high-speed mode in order to accommodate them. We were impressed.
If you’ve never tried Uptown’s five-spice wings, you’re missing some of the best in San Diego. They’re crispier than most and glazed judiciously in a tantalizing sweet-chili sauce. Priced normally at $12, they drop down to $7 during happy hour along with several other dishes such as white bean hummus, truffle fries and goat cheese flatbreads.
Uptown Tavern recently celebrated its third anniversary, and though still a baby, it has firmly established itself as an anchor establishment that is both stylish and unpretentious, and one that knows how to nurture the community with impressive food and drinks.