I love movies, but I don't watch them in movie theaters much. I remembered why on a recent Saturday night, when I left a downtown theater and realized it was barely 9 p.m. It felt lame to go home, but also almost too late to do much else—except drink. Without a plan, my friend and I began to wander. We figured we'd find a bar that served food and, hopefully, offered specials, since movies seem to cost more every time I go. (I had briefly considered selling a kidney to pay for my giant cinema soda.)
But tourism hot-spots aside, downtown isn't the most happening place on a weekend night, and finding a Saturday night deal takes some digging. Some bars close early; others aren't even open. First we tried Pippin's Tavern, which was acceptable for the first 45 minutes until it suddenly tripled in population (just like chicken pox!). I went to the bathroom, where one stall was broken but still being used (that plan won't play out well, ladies) and someone was getting sick in the other. Suddenly, it seemed so less important that I reapply lipstick. Pippin's is a fine bar, but it's more my scene during the week, so we decided to leave.
I remembered a bar that I was almost sure had daily specials: Jake Melnick's Corner Tap. A short walk away, Jake's felt a little bit country (why hello, checkered tablecloths) and not at all crowded, though there was a really drunk girl who seemed more interested in talking to the Golden Tee machine than her date.
We instantly snagged a corner table—and a deal. All appetizers cost $5 from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., when the kitchen closes. (In the few weeks since I went there, Jake's has changed their long-running food special to just include weeknights, but Friday nights count! The $5 menu is also available from 3:30 to 6 p.m.)
Most of the above-average bar food, like the garlic and cayenne buffalo wings, spicy popcorn shrimp and fried mushrooms, gets a lengthy douse in the fryer, allowing you to deliciously, carelessly hinder your health. We ordered spinach and artichoke dip, which was as gooey and rich as I had hope for, and a basket of fries. Kudos to the waitress, who was patient enough to answer our probing cheese fries questions: My friend feels that grainy faux cheese won't cut it, and I'm happy to report that Jake's puts real melted cheese atop its fries like a lovely, golden blanket.
The bar also has pretty cheap weekend drink specials. The night I stopped by, there was a Bud beer special: $12 Bud, Bud Light and Bud Select buckets. Although it usually feels like more of a bargain when drinks come served in a pail rather than on a tray, we just didn't want to commit to having two-and-a-half brews each. And putting the extra bottle in my purse to take home just felt wrong. Instead, we perused Jake's 80-plus beer menu, and I selected a domestic draft. I drank it down and then ordered another; perhaps the bucket would've been our best bet after all. Foiled again by you, Saturday night!
But alas, hindsight is 20-20. And I knew that if I drank anymore, my blood alcohol level would be approaching that number, too. So I went home.
Looking for some Saturday night specials? Jake's now has $3.25 Coronas and $6 Jägerbombs on Saturday nights.
Erin Brereton is our resident urban cowgirl on a bi-weekly search for life on the cheap. If you know of the mythic happy hour that she missed, do clue her in.