Gladstone Street Pub
3737 SE Gladstone
Only on rare occasions does a person want to drop $100 in a fancy restaurant where servers theatrically open bottles of expensive wine while ridiculously calling you ma'am or sir. Truth be told, I enjoy a good number of meals in bars or old people diners, eating iceberg lettuce salads, Reubens, hamburgers, and gyros—which means I know the difference between a great working man's meal and a crappy one. Some bars serve food just to keep the OLCC off their asses, others serve it to compliment a cold pint of beer and lure in the neighbors. The Gladstone Pub is the latter sort of place: a clean, mellow bar with great pub food.
The Pub isn't anything fancy. They have solid wood tables and a slight sports bar theme, but the pro-team paraphernalia is kept to a minimum and a modest television hangs comfortably above the bar. They also have a number of outdoor tables that wrap around the outside of the building, so if you want to avoid themes all together this is a great place to enjoy a late afternoon sandwich in the sun. Also, they serve food until 2 am and let you sit outdoors until late, so it's a convenient last stop for the evening if you're nearby or don't feel like dealing with the hipsters at Dot's Cafe.
For a place that really does make great bar food, the Pub sticks refreshingly to the classics. The menu is made up of deli sandwiches, soup and chili, chef and taco salads, and even a Shrimp Louie salad for the blue hairs. The turkey, Black Forest ham, and cheese that come on the club sandwich are topnotch deli quality, sliced thin, and helped along with a modest spread of mayo, fresh tomato, and a leaf of lettuce. Notably, the sandwiches are served on chewy Grand Central bread, which elevates them far beyond those of their sports bar brethren.
The taco salad at the Gladstone Pub is splendid, made with thick, beany homemade chili, fresh lettuce, chunks of tomato, bits of red onion, olives, sour cream, chunky salsa, and pieces of crunchy (as in not stale) tortilla chips mixed throughout. I applaud the Pub for omitting the annoying Taco Bell-style tortilla bowl. I always end up eating that stupid, soggy, cholesterol-laden bowl and wish to Christ I hadn't. The Pub's Rueben is a real star—one of the best I've had in years. It features all the qualities I demand in an ideal Reuben: great bread, quality thin-shaved corned beef, melted Swiss, a heap of sauerkraut and a generous smear of Thousand Island dressing. Along with the charmingly presented iceberg lettuce salad topped with shredded cheese, tomatoes, and red onion slices, this meal belongs smack in the middle of your Sunday afternoon.
While the Pub doesn't usually serve burgers or fries due to limited kitchen space, they do barbecue hamburgers and chicken sandwiches outdoors on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5-10 pm—so if you're lazy or out of charcoal, this is your spot. Monday they'll be grilling hot dogs and sausages to go along with the Monday Night football games, and starting in early September they'll be serving breakfast.
While the Gladstone Street Pub may not be a place for special occasions, it does a great job at making an everyday occasion special. And how many sports bars can say that? ■