Key West Bar Hops
The Keep Calm and Hop On Tour
Hops MacBarley's Ongoing
Key West Bar Boondoggle
Saturday, 24 April 2021, 5:45 PM
Jai Alai IPA (draft) $7.00
Wahlburgers is the new kid on the block – sorry, I just had to say it – on the Historic Key West Harborwalk. It has filled up and overflowed the space formerly occupied by White Tarpon (#31, #185, and the relocated #332). It is an open-air place, with the bar under the overhang anchored among the red brick pillars that I always liked at the Tarpon.
What used to be open walking area in front of that overhang is now a roped-in eating area with a dozen or so four-top tables. The chairs, like the lettering in the sign, are that vivid shade of green that you see as one of the primary colors on your computer.
When I first saw that color swatch, way back last century, I thought, “Nothing is that color! Grass isn’t that bright. Leaves aren’t that bright. That’s nuts.”
But, when I started consciously looking for it, well, it’s there. If the sun is shining brilliantly, the shades of green can get dazzling. I even saw some moss that was that vibrant shade of green at Yosemite.
Huh? Wahlburger’s? Oh yah.
Anyway, Mark Wahlberg was not in the 1980’s boy band that I semi-mentioned in my opening sentence; his older brother Donnie was. You’re probably thinking of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, the semi-rap band of the early 1990’s.
Or maybe you’re remembering those 1992 Calvin Klein ads, luring white males into the ghetto style of sagging. I never saw the point of having the top 4-6” of your underwear in plain sight (it is underwear, yes?), but what do I know?
Wahlburger’s, though, is about food to most people. Apparently, there was even a reality TV show about it, but it never crossed my path. I’ve worked in F&B, so I certainly do not need to see a show about the whoop-de-doo’s of restaurant work.
I read a couple of online reviews about this newest link in the Wahlburger’s chain. The most positive responses were about the Happy Hour. Ooooh, now that sounded promising.
As much as I searched, though, nobody listed the actual hours of HH -- a significant omission, I thought. It was closing in on 5:30, so if it was one of those 3-5 jobs, I was SOL for today. A 4-6 HH would fly, but I needed to know, and soon. Google was failing me, so I went back in time and called the bar on the damn phone! Really, I’m not kidding! I used the phone.
A woman answered. I got right to the point: “Hi. What time is your Happy Hour?”
I was half-expecting her to tell me “You can look that up on our web site.” If she had said that, I was going to go down, shove my iPad in her face and scream, “WHERE????”
But she replied, “Oh, it’s four-till-six,” and thereby avoided what would have been a very awkward moment.
Don’t you HATE it when you have a question for, oh, I dunno, an insurance company, or some government agency, or your cable provider, or your ISP, and their website just isn’t giving you the info you need, so out of total desperation you make the call – IF you can even find their damn phone number – and as you pick your way painfully through their automated menu, you get told in condescending tones, You can find the information on our website, www.oh-shut-the-hell-up-you-bitch-if-I-could-find-it-there-I-would-not-be-going-through-this-dumbass-freaking-menu.com.
So, yeah. Happy Hour ends in 30! Time to go!
One really nice thing about KW is that I can be at ANY of these 200+ bars within 20 minutes driving time. I can get to MOST of them in less than 15 minutes on my bike. And I can get to any of the nearest 100 or so of them with a leisurely 20-minute walk.
I took Trekko The Wonderbike this time -- partly to give him some exercise -- locked him to the hitchin’ post near Conch Republic Seafood Company (#19) and wove my way on foot through the almost-sunset crowd on the boardwalk.
Straight to the bar I went, pausing only to snap a few pix (see photos). With just 15 minutes of Happy Hour left, there was some degree of urgency. If this was anything like the HH at the new White Tarpon (#332) or old Boathouse (#58), seats would be very hard to come by. I was prepared to take a stand (as opposing to taking a seat).
No need, though. The bar is big – maybe 25 seats? -- and it was about two-thirds filled. I walked more than halfway back and chose my seat. Nice seats they are, too! Tall, wide, comfortable, with a generous back and arms. Hey, FreshCo, this is what you should have!
The barkeep was busy doing some tasks, so I settled in and unwound. I had not been all that wound anyway, but now that I had not missed HH, mission was accomplished and I could reeeelax.
That there was a Happy Hour, I knew. But I knew nothing else about it. IT never occurred to me to ask for such info on the phone. And, no, it was not on the web site either.
I didn’t see any menu readily available, nor was there a tidy plastic table tent handy. Yes, I know I was not at a table, but those things are often found on the bar too and I’ve never heard them referred to as bar tents.
Luckily, my barkeep emerged from the kitchen, spied the new face (mine), and asked me what I was drinking. I had chosen my seat well -- right in front of the taps – and had a good bead on the all the brews from which to choose, Cruz.
First off, though, I had to know the scoop on HH. She told me that some drafts were $3 and my spirit soared: a Jai Alai for tree bux, could it be?? But she finished her sentence with “Bud Light or Blue Moon” and that spirit stalled and sputtered and flopped back to earth.
Now, I can’t tell you what I thought she said. I clearly heard “Bud Light or Blue Moon” but for some unknown reason, I heard it as “Bud Light or (some equally shitty beer).” WTF, I like Blue Moon, that smooth Belgian Wheat Beer that is commonly served with a wheel of orange. I can do without the fruit, actually; the beer stands up well on its own.
Buuuut, I blanked on it. Totally blanked. I ordered the non-HH Jai Alai (for $7!). I guess I just had JA on the brain and my mind would hear of nothing else. I was halfway through it – and enjoying it completely – when it struck me: “Wait a tick, she said Blue Moon. I coulda had a Blue Moon for tree bux! What a dumb fu—”
“Would you like something to eat while Happy Hour is still on?” She came along and cut me off right before I could cuss myself out. Good thing. My inner cuss fights get nasty.
“Yeah, whatcha got?” She handed me a menu.
I was a bit disappointed in the selection. Loaded Fries, Loaded Tots, Fried Pickles (fried pickles??), couple of taco things. The only that that tickled my taste buds were the chicken tenders, but let’s try ‘em without the “sweet chili glaze.” Two 3-ounce tenders didn’t sound like much, but, yeah, only tree dolla, so bring ‘em on.
The pickles are allegedly “deep fried to perfection.” Perfection. Wow. The perfect fried pickle. Wouldn’t that be a bit subjective, though? You might think it’s perfect while I might think it sucks. But I guess that means you can never get sued for saying it. As long as one person – even Marky Mark himself – says, “Mmmmm, that pickle is perrrrfect,” you’re covered.
Ahh, but what about the next pickle, and the one after that. How can they ALL be perfect, hm??
Mercifully, my tenders arrived and nipped the perfect pickle rant in the bud.
My order came in a small, shiny, silver basket. It was small enough, in fact, that two 3-ounce tenders made it look full to overflowing. Stuffing some paper in there helped the effect too.
But, you know what? Those tenders were gooooooooooooooood. Yup, 16 o’s worth of good. Hot, tender (as the name would imply), crispy, juicy, and mmmm tasty. I seriously thought about getting a refill.
And I probably would have done just that if I hadn’t gone over budget with my full-price Jai Alai instead of the HH Blue Moon.
Maybe next time…
That vibrant green...