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12 San Diego Uptown News | March 4-17, 2011

Get Happy! Dr. Ink

Come On


Meat and greet over drinks at Fat City's modest digs Fat City Steakhouse

1243 University Ave. (Hillcrest) 295-1188

Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m., Monday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday


gnore the fact that the historic Art Deco building housing Fat City Steakhouse needs a power washing and that it shares space with a Denny’s and the now-defunct China Camp. If you’re looking for drinks and steaks on the cheap, you’ve come to the right place. Established in the 1930s as

Top’s Supper Club, a trysting spot for visiting celebrities and hotrod showoffs, the restaurant remains less withered inside compared to its aging pink exterior. The ambiance of a classic chophouse is comfortably captured through hexagon-tiled flooring, mahogany paneling, stained-glass ceilings and what appears to be a breeding ground for Tiffany lamps. With a couple of cigar smok- ers in our group, we took to the spacious garden patio that sits

With a large heated patio for guests, Fat City also offers patrons cheap brew and tasty bulging burgers. (Dr. Ink/SDUN)

under a circus-like white tent. The space is adorned by potted palms, an outdated water fountain made of glass blocks and white string lights hanging unlit for some reason during our visit. But there’s a lot of potential here for festive gatherings, and plenty of patio heaters to keep the blood flowing on chilly days.

Draft beers are $2 apiece, includ- ing the local artisan stuff like Karl Strauss Amber Lager and Airdale Pale Ale. We seized upon both, sur- prised by the fact they’re served in decent-size glasses that we estimat- ed contained at least eight ounces. Well cocktails are only a buck more and wine sells at $4 a glass.

Dr. Ink’s prescription for curing those hunger pangs generated by copious intakes of hops and malts: a charry steak glistening in clear, thin juices. During happy hour, New York strips are served as open-faced sandwiches with a nest of shoestring fries for only $7.95. Add a few brews to your tab, and

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you come away with a bellyful of suds and beef for less than $15. In addition, appetizers are slashed by 50 percent, including lib- eral servings of crispy fried green beans escorted by Ranch dressing. Priced at $3 per order, their crispy snap and seasoned breading struck an addicting match to the mildly bitter finish of Strauss’ lager. Deals such as these call for sustained consumption. So we opted also for a $5 order of fried shrimp coated evenly in golden- brown batter and containing wisps of coconut. The happy hour grub extends to crab and artichoke dip, Buffalo wings and potato skins. And then there’s the longstand- ing half-pound house burger that kept winking at us between brews and the deafening blares of train horns whizzing past. The burger is crowned with shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, grilled onions and cheddar—an intriguing creation that Dr. Ink is reserving for a cheap whiskey bath in the next visit.u

RATINGS: Drinks:

Discounts on beer extend beyond the usual domestic brands, allowing you to venture into artisan and local craft labels that include Karl Strauss and Airdale. Well drinks cover the gamut, while the wine selection sticks to basic bulk varieties.


The open-faced New York steak sandwich presents mediocre texture, but very good flavor. Most of the other happy hour offer- ings (green beans, shrimp and fries) are put through the deep fryers, but nobody’s pushing them away while imbibing.

Value: You’ll be hard-pressed to find craft beers at only $2 apiece. And who else out there is serving New York strips for a mere $7.95?


Our table enjoyed the full service of an order taker, a water boy and a food runner. The staff was affable, and their timing impeccable.

Duration: Happy hour runs only on weekdays for an accommodating three hours. But we’d sure love to chuck our chores on Fat’s garden patio during some sunny weekend afternoon while eating and drinking to our wallets’ content.

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