Urban Mo-mosas

A brunch-time budget-seeker’s jackpot:

Sundays, 10 am – 2 pm at Urban Mo’s
All you can eat brunch & all you can drink mimosas– $19.95
Bottomless mimosas only — $9.95

Okay, brunch isn’t quite the same thing as happy hour, but a bargain is a bargain.

This weekend, Mrs. Thirsty and I were entertaining some company from out of town, and we wanted to do something quintessentialy San Diego, or more specifically, Hillcrest.  So, at the behest of another thirsty friend (let’s call him Mr. Cottonmouth), we went to Urban Mo’s on University in Hillcrest.  Their Champaign brunch is one of Hillcrest’s best kept secrets, so claims Mr. Cottonmouth.  Although judging by the sheer number of people pushing through the doors by 11 a.m., I’m hesitant to say it’s a secret at all.

Here’s the tasty deal, for $19.95 you get bottomless mimosas and all-you-can-eat breakfast/brunch.  And it’s worth every penny.

Not only are the mimosas bottomless, they’re made with Salmon Creek Champaign (not a bad brand considering it’s all-you-can-drink) and splashed with an afterthought of OJ.  Purely for color, one supposes.

The all-you-can-eat buffet includes delectable french toast, omelets made to order, eggs Benedict, corn beef and hash, biscuits and gravy, and a whole table devoted to deserts.  I was so enthusiastic about the eggs Benedict and the chicken fingers (both fried and barbequed) that I ate too much too fast and suffered an acute attack of the food-dizzies.  Fortunately, the kindly Champaign lady was never far off, and I was able to stabilize myself with a few more mimosas.  Crisis averted.

Caveat: if you have issues with self-control and gorging yourself at buffets like I do, consider consulting a trustworthy friend and coming up with a “safe word” which will, if need be, serve as a cue to you to stop eating.  (Note: Rapscallion, cockamamy, and portmanteau are all fine safe words.)

Our group of 6 felt about perfect for a small Sunday morning shindig.  Two people would probably have fun at this brunch, but with the lively outdoor setting and loud-ish (but well-chosen) music, this is the kind of place where more is merrier.  We got there relatively early and stayed until 2 p.m.–when the unwelcome bottoms of our mimosas finally emerged.

Bottom line: if you haven’t checked out the Sunday champaign brunch at Urban Mo’s, then clear your calendar, blow off your Sunday chores, and make a deal with your maker to get out of church, because this brunch is a MUST…especially if you live within walking distance, or otherwise aren’t planning on driving afterward. Otherwise prepare for a bumpy ride.

308 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

Mo’s Champaign Brunch


See how Mo’s rates on Urban Spoon

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Bar Dynamite

After selling our old mattress to a friend for $20, we erred on the side of indulgence and squandered the whole profit reviewing a new joint for Thirsty’s Happiest Hour. Just to clarify, we did not intentionally set out to sell our furniture to fund our pursuit of booze, the idea came afterwards when 5pm rolled around and that $20 started burning a hole in our proverbial pocket. Furthermore, the search for the best happy hour in town isn’t going to conduct itself…if anything, it was our duty! So to Bar Dynamite we went.

This place was a ghost town when we arrived, but we’ve been told they’re still getting their sea legs when it comes to hosting happy hour. One of the perks they have in that department is the free food from Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop next door. If you’re planning to stay for a couple of drinks, you’ll get a “token” flyer that can be cashed in for free street tacos. The tacos are mini versions of the glorious confections from Lucha Libre’s regular menu, just tiny Tijuana style.

The bartender was perfectly nice and told us everything we never wanted to know about college basketball and March Madness. He also endeared himself to us by playing Abby Road and Pet sounds on vinyl. Interestingly, when he realized we were taking notes for a happy hour blog, he spent the next 15 minutes suggesting places other than Bar Dynamite. So do what you will with that information. We’re not sure where the enthusiasm came from, but he had it in abundance for Shades and Southbeach, both located off Newport in Ocean Beach.

As far as drink specials, happy hour at Bar Dynamite offers $3 wells and import bottled beer, $2 domestic bottle or draft, and $4 pints of Bass and Guinness. We started off with a vodka and tonic and McCormicks whiskey. I’m not sure if I was left unimpressed because I usually prefer sweeter drinks or because it was crappy vodka.  Mr. Thirsty suspected the later, but thought his McCormick wasn’t bad for a wells. If you’re just looking to go through the motions of wetting your whistle, this place will do it, and cheaply, but otherwise I’d save a trip to Bar Dynamite for nights of all out dancing when the tastiness of drinks doesn’t matter as much as the courage they provide.

Final Damage: $15 (1 well vodka tonic, 1 well whiskey, 1 Amstel draft + 4 street tacos)

Final thoughts: a budget friendly winner if your looking for quantity over quality.

Bar Dynamite

1808 West Washington Street
San Diego, CA 92103-3734

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Martinis Above Fourth

This lesser known gem serves up 10 oz martinis shaken in pint glasses, and believe us, these drinks are not for the weak livered! Case in point: by the end of the evening, I was gushing to the waiter about how good he smelled. And while Axe body soap (yes, I asked), may be chemically engineered to have that effect, something tells me it was the tini talking.

They boast a broad menu of 58 specialty martinis, and bartenders are willing to try any recipe you can dream up (given they have the ingredients). Happy hour specials offer just $1 off wells/beer/wine and $2 off specialty drinks, but since we’ve yet to taste an impressive cheap’tini, the prices are reasonable for the quality. We tried the Sangria Tini (a potent mix of vodka and Pinot Nior) and the Dirty Executive (your more traditional tini with a dash of fresh ground pepper and hand stuffed blue cheese olives) – both were something to write home about! If staying on a budget hadn’t been part of the mission, we would have tried the “Ophelia Later” – a mega martini requiring 3+ people to order, but if consumed by a solitary patron, requires said patron to turn in their car keys AND wear a protective helmet.

The ambiance at is chill and intimate – a great place to take a date. The piano singer performing in the dining room also increased the swank-factor, but she’s difficult to hear from the patio where happy hour is served. Martinis Above Fourth is located securely in the heart of queer friendly Hillcrest, so Prop 8 supporters need not apply.

Things to note: Take the elevator from street level to the 2nd floor. They also have discounted bar bites all day on Tuesdays. But watch out! Even if you decide not to snack at the bar, the greater challenge is fighting off the delicious smell-marketing of rolled tacos and cheese enchiladas wafting from Cuervo’s Mexican Food on the walk home. We had no will power, and totally succumbed.

Final Damage: $24 (2 specialty martinis) + $11 (5 rolled tacos and a cheese enchilada combo)

Bottom line: While not $20 budget friendly, definitely a keeper if your looking to sip just one, solid drink.

Martinis Above Fourth (Hillcrest)

3940 Fourth Avenue, Suite 200 San Diego, CA 92103

Serving up the happiest hour 5-7pm TUE – THURS and 4-7pm FRI-SAT

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Casa de Guadalajara

There are few quests in life as pressing as finding the ultimate happy hour watering hole. We’ve taken up the challenge, with the greater good in mind of course, and made it our mission to do the ground work for you. Our first stop was Casa de Guadalajara; where the house margaritas are cheap and the free mini burritos flow like an artery clogging river of cheesy tastiness. But while the complimentary snack buffet may be enough to bring you back, the $3.75 house margaritas were disappointing. The fact that the bartender filled our glasses from a soda spout was a big red flag: All mix and no character, they tasted like mass produced lemon-lime floor cleaner.  However, you might like them if you have a weakness for sour flavors. We decided to try a couple of top shelf margaritas for comparison and liked those much better. The Margarita Tradicional and the 1800 Reposado are made with better tequilas and mixers, and even though they blew our $20 budget, we would definitely recommend them!

The overall atmosphere was loud and lively, and the bartenders are busy, but friendly. This is not a good place to go if crowds or cackling groups of coworkers grate your nerves, but even if they do, $20 worth of $3.75 margaritas may keep you from caring for long. “Casa de Guad” as we’ve heard people call it, is located just off the beaten path in Old Town next to the shops of El Bazzar del Mundo, making it an easy pit stop if you’re making the tourist rounds or hosting out of town guests.

Final Damage:$30.32 (2 house margaritas, 2 top shelf margaritas)

Bottom line: Come for the free appetizers, stay for the top shelf margaritas.

Casa de Guadalajara (Old Town)

4105 Taylor St. San Diego, CA 92110

Serving up the happiest hour 4-7pm MON-FRI

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