By Dr. Ink
It was just over two years ago when I supped on fried chicken skins and caccio e pepe pasta at Two Seven Eight, the residence-turned-restaurant that was previously home to The Tractor Room.
At the time of my visit, shortly after chef-owner Jessica Fisher returned to San Diego from kitchen gigs in San Francisco and New York as both a savory and pastry chef, her new Two Seven Eight resembled something of a Nantucket cottage. The walls were mostly white, which matched elegantly to the structure’s paned windows, pillowed banquettes and wooden joinery comprising the tall ceiling.
Though not a fine-dining place, it felt radically more upscale compared to The Tractor Room’s dim hunting-lodge atmosphere.
To my surprise, Two Seven Eight now features a more casual élan. The walls are black. Edison bulbs hover over the middle of the dining room. And tunes by Bowie and Morrissey played at semi-high volume made me fall immediately in love with the interior alterations. Our waitress said the changes were made “about a month ago.”
I’m not sure if the current happy-hour deals were around in 2017, but if they were, I missed some mighty swell opportunities to stretch out my leisure budget since then.
Nearly all drink and food items are $5 or less, starting with beer-shot combos and wines by the glass. Prices come down from there with well drinks selling for $4, and draft beers or blood orange “hard” kombucha going for $3 apiece.
Most impressive are the $5 “smash” burgers, a menu staple that sells for $16 on the regular dinner menu. Granted, it comes with french fries during that time, but what you get for the money during happy hour will thrill most stomachs.
The burger is constructed with two thin beef patties cooked under weighted pressure on a flat grill, plus two slices of American cheese, and a liberal smear of garlic aioli. It’s similar to the wildly popular burgers slung at The Friendly in North Park, except here, the kitchen accepts modifications.
I ordered mine with the addition of raw onions, which raised the burger to my gold standard, adding that precious measure of crunch. It washed down swimmingly with a glass of the kombucha, which hails from JuneShine in North Park. Ringing in at 6% alcohol, your probiotics come with a buzz.
My drinking cohort ordered the beer-shot pairing — a pint-size can of Hamm’s American lager and a standard shot glass filled with some lower-rack brand of tequila. It’s a decent dose of booze for $5. For the same cost, he ordered a sizable bowl of tater tots that were crispy and perfectly salted.
For those willing to pay full price for other libations, there are staff-created cocktails, numerous tequila and mezcal choices, and more than a dozen locally distilled spirits. The draft beer selection is rather small, confined to only a handful of taps.
Other food choices during happy hour include $2 street tacos, $5 skinny fries, a $5 smash chicken sandwich, and a $6 pulled pork sandwich, which we also scarfed down while applauding its sweet and smoky overtones.
Given the attractive happy-hour prices and diverse patronage at Two Seven Eight, which features a loungy dog-friendly front patio, chances are great you’ll want to stay a while.