Good grub

Photo by David Robert

At first glance, I was moderately unsure whether I would be able to actually obtain a meal at this place. The bar itself totally dominates the room, and the air had a film of smoke that the single ceiling fan did little to dissipate. A sinister-looking character glanced up at me from his pool shot, his black, tattered, macramé shirt barely concealing his skin. I stared back, trying to figure out if he was putting me on.

Tony and I took a table by the window and ordered beers after the bartender discovered that the ingredients on the drink-special table tent were not available. Oh, well. That frou-frou junk just gives you headaches anyway.

The bar was populated with the most diverse crowd I’ve seen in a while. A hippie with blond dreadlocks lording masterfully over the jukebox, a scraggly dude with a biker mullet haircut and a bandana, a couple in complementary-colored polo shirts and a few bitter divorcees rounded out my selection of fellow diners/barflies.

The rest of the room, aside from a mural of giraffes (hence the name Longneck’s), was done up in the wash-and-wear texture that only comes from indestructible furniture and indoor/outdoor carpeting that could use a hosing down. Nevertheless, it had a certain worn-in charm that only old, smoky bars can claim.

The menu was far more impressive, boasting a selection of hearty sandwiches, bar snacks and pizza that can be delivered to you at home for an extra couple of bucks. There is even a section with more dinner-like items, such as pasta, lasagna or fried chicken.

Among the usual bar-food items, there was one item that was unique. We ordered the Garlic Gnarls ($3.29) mostly for the goofy name. These little hunks of deep-fried pizza dough are the ultimate in junk-food decadence, kind of like a cross between a garlic breadstick and a doughnut. It might sound gross, but I can see this being the world’s most perfect food to accompany a long drinking binge. They are morbidly addicting, and I am certain they are devoid of nutrition, therefore all the tastier. Dunk them in ranch dressing or ask for a side of marinara.

I had the meatball sandwich ($7.29), and it arrived in a basket with parmesan-seasoned shoestring fries. The sandwich itself was pretty big and oozing with melted mozzarella cheese and marinara. Not too messy, but plenty yummy. In fact, when I ordered it, I thought I heard our server’s stomach growl as she approved of my choice. “All the grub is really good here,” she said. “The meatball sandwich is one of my favorites.” All I can say is that it is a good sign when the employees give such enthusiastic testimonials. Plus, it’s funny when people say “grub.”

Tony ordered the bar standard, the fish and chips ($6.79). He got the same fries I received, along with the flaky, battered pieces of cod. They were crisp and not too greasy, with a balanced batter-to-fish ratio. The coleslaw was not too bad except for the fact that it contained raisins. I don’t ever think I have seen that before, and I can’t say that I liked it. They lent a freaky sweetness that the salad would have been better off without.

All in all, if you can get past the slightly aberrant neighborhood and the smoky air, you can get some good grinds here. The quirky clientele is just an example of all types being welcome. Besides, you can always change the atmosphere to your liking if you have enough quarters to run a monopoly on the jukebox. If you get stuck picking your tracks, get the hippie to help you. It turns out he works there and has great taste in tunes.