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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tip Top Del Club Jalisco



After visiting the last bar, St. Mary’s Pub, I was really excited to get going on my trek. Tip Top Del Club Jalisco wasn’t as inviting from the outside. The exterior doesn’t look bad, it just doesn’t look inviting (the picture doesn’t really do it justice). That being said, the door was closed and it looked dark inside. But as the Mission states I have to enter and so I did.

The interior of the Tip Top couldn’t be more different from St. Mary’s Pub. The place is a decent size but feels cramped. That’s not a bad thing just a very different feel from the bar across the street. I definitely stood out the minute I walked in. I’m tall for being a Mexican, at least I keep telling myself that being all of 6 feet tall*. The average height for a White Male in the USA is 5’10” and the average height of a Mexican-American in the USA is 5’6”. Tonight I am a good 6 inches taller than most in the bar.

On this night I’m dressed in jeans, sneakers and a long sleeve tee. Definitely not nice “going out” attire but clean and I stick out like a sore thumb. I couldn’t really put my finger on it at first but I figured it out later.

I found myself a spot at the bar and ordered a Modelo. I’m not a Modelo drinker but figured a Fat Tire probably wasn’t the beer of choice at this establishment. There are a few things I’ve noticed in making two trips down Mission Street and one is that 6 pm is not too early when it’s time to get your drink on. The regulars seem to have their spots around the pool table well on their way to tying one on.

The pool table sits in the center of the room which gives everyone just enough space to walk around but when playing you sometimes have to angle your stick just right because you’re either too close to the wall or too close to people sitting at the bar. I didn’t have trouble finding a seat at the bar and met the only female in the house, the bartender, Marta. A TV behind the bar on the Spanish channel (the news was on tonight). I briefly contemplated asking to change the channel but thought better of it. My feeling is there are only two things they watch here, the Spanish station and soccer. I can only imagine what this place is like when there’s a soccer game on.

Everyone here was speaking in Spanish. Now I speak Spanish and understand Spanish, at least I thought I did before tonight. I couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying! I don’t know if it was the speed at which they spoke or if it was the dialect of Spanish. It wasn’t my beer consumption because I just started. I tried talking to the guy next to me but was struggling to understand what he was saying. I did catch that he worked at some factory or warehouse working with iron or something like that. It couldn’t be further from the office job that I have which is probably why I got the funny looks when I first walked in. He pegged immediately as a white collar guy.

After a few beers my confidence grew, I wasn’t talking to many people just nodding and smiling. That seemed to work ok as I was invited to play pool a couple of times. Some of you know I suck at pool. There is a window where I’m decent which is between the 3 ½ to 4 beers range. Any less or any more and I’m no good. I figured why embarrass myself tonight I’ll just hang back and watch the drunk guy who is pretty awful play. There were a group of guys that were serious players. They hit some crazy shots and knew what they were doing. That being said, they too have their windows and I saw one clearly pass his peak losing on a couple of easy shots.

After hanging out for a bit it was time to break the seal. You walk to the back of the bar and get buzzed through a gated door by Marta. Walk upstairs and there’s the bathroom. It was only about 7:15pm and the bathroom already had the stench of someone having tossed their lunch. I’ll leave it at that.

Walking back to my seat at the bar I was suddenly approached and hugged by Francisco. Yup, that’s right, hugged. He gave me a big hug, told me that I was a friend of the bar and that I should get wasted with him. I didn’t quite agree with him, as it was only 7:15pm, but he insisted so we shot a couple tequila shots. After 3 rounds of shots he hugs me again, tells Marta that I’m a friend and should be given plenty of shots to get me drunk. She smiled, served up two shots and walked away. Francisco also walked away so I shot the two shots and sit there washing them down with my Modelo.

The bar doesn’t serve dinner but after I’ve been there for over an hour and a guy walks in with a backpack and a lunch bag/box type container (used to keep food warm) and starts taking orders. He pulls plates, napkins and plastic spoons out of his backpack and starts serving up tortillas with beans and rice. I couldn’t really tell but I think he had some type of meat available as well. This was the weirdest thing but it made complete sense. Go to where the drunk people are, bring them food and they will pay. Genius! People were ordering up like crazy and I realized this guy had a good gig going. He was there a good 45 minutes then took off; I’m sure to the next bar down the street. I wonder if I’ll see him next week when I’m out. I wonder how late he’s out and if he samples his own cuisine? Is he the chef? Does he cater? I have so many questions for this guy. Before my mission is done I must find him and find out. Only problem is, I need to learn the language first…

The Tip Bar was a true exploration for me. It felt like I was in a foreign country and couldn’t understand the language, the culture and a complete stranger to my surroundings. To the people here I was the Mexican who doesn’t work with his hands, on weekends It’s pretty interesting taking all that in and knowing that I’m only about ½ mile from my own house and I’ve lived there for 3 years. I’m sure I’ll have similar experiences at other bars down Mission Street but this was the first time I’ve paid attention to it.

In only my second stop of my mission, I am coming to find out that people are pretty nice to you when you’re the new person to a bar. It’s almost like being welcomed into a community of people. I didn’t say much and didn’t interact much but still managed to engage with a few people, get a few names, have a shot bought for me and meet a few of my neighbors. Not a bad night.

*Note: I am 6 feet tall, I’m not throwing in the extra 2 inches of height that I’ve heard other guys do.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Another good update.... 6ft, you can't serious?