The Navy owns San Diego, but San Diego owns the Navy’s stomach.
- Sandy Eggo
Putter around America’s Finest City long enough in uniform and you’ll end up lunching at a Navy hangout. Per wikipedia: San Diego hosts the largest naval fleet in the world. So you can imagine how many legendary joints there are in this town.
Generally, the fleet-staff bubbas roll down the hill into Point Loma with the Spawar and undersea crowd; the black-shoe 32nd Streeters go taco crazy; and the Coronado bunch (Naval Air Station, Amphib’ers, and SEALs) have good selections on-island*.
- McP’s SEAL Pub
One such Coronado haunt is McP’s Irish Pub & Grill. It is world famous as a SEAL hashery (so I don’t feel like I am breaking any secrets by divulging the info.)
Despite being stationed in Sandy Eggo for more than a year, I had still not been to McPs. No problemo. We took care of that issue this last Friday. Promising to meet a friend from the Gator (Amphib) base, my Senior Chief, another O, and I took off in search of some mean chow.
San Diego is oddly micro-climatey. Case in point, streaming down the I-5 at about 10 miles per hour faster than we shoulda (yikes Senior), the Midway and the airport was off our right shoulder. And it was sunny. As soon as the Coronado Bridge loomed, the fog enveloped us, licked us shut, slammed a stamp on our car, and airmailed us off to misty-land. It was like we were in Ireland, minus the brogue and the little Brosephs with pots of gold everywhere. Ahh, yer blarney.
- Coronado Bridge: The Bridge to somewhere with good food.
We poked over the bridge carefully, so foggy was it. Rumor is that the despondent, the lovelorn jump from the Coronado Bridge to off themselves. (Or I am mixing up my bridges? My intention with this post is to build bridges, not to mistake them.) Ask any Sailor on Coronado how bad the traffic is cummuting across the two-lanes during oh-anytime-rush-hourish. It’s bad, trust me.
But not Friday at high noon. We shimmied right across and dropped into Coronado pretty as pelicans spotting some sour sourdough. Traffic’s funny on the island. Not funny, as in ha-ha funny, but funny as in hellish funny. 25 MPH, check. Cops lurking, wating. Check too.
We hung a left on a lettered street (Perhaps B Street? Shakespearean segue: B Street or Not B Street?) and slid up near McPs. By this time, Senior was grumpy. ‘Tis the nature of E-8s to be ruffled. It is a privilege of the rank. The issue? No parking. C-town was notorious for parking issues. Bee-you-tee-ful place, truly. But parking? Faa-get-about-it.
Twice around the blocky, and twice no dicey. Until out of nowhere a space beckoned right in front of the Pub. We swooped in, only to discover that the O we were meeting from the Amphib base had been saving it for us.
My heart leapt in my khakis. Sailors are like German Shepherds to each other. Trustworthy, clean, reverent, kind, campassionate, humorous. Wait, we sound like Boy Scouts! You get the idea.
- Mission Accomplished: McP’s proud owner
We popped out and ducked into the Pub. It was a little dark and we wound past the bar on our left and out to the outside garden. (The outside, I have discovered, is usually the paradise waiting just beyond the door from the inside.)
Indeed, we were rewarded with a table and quick drink. Please read the traits I have listed above should you question our frosty beverage choices. Strictly cokes and ice-teas all around. Lushes we are not. Not on the taxpayers’ dime (errrr, quarter) when we had to go back to work. No special boat drinks for us.
The waitress was smiley and tank-topped. Order in and my friend from the amphib base tried to extract hair stories out of me. No way. Yes, I went to Berkeley, but my hair was not much longer than it is now. I won, she lost. . .No Berkeley hippie stories to tell.
Note to all inquiring souls: hippie is the correct spelling. Not hippy. A hippy is a female with thighs like an outside linebacker. Or inside. But not like a cornerback. I better stop, all this talk of football is reminding me that Cal lost again again again to USC this last Thursday. And it wern’t pretty. Sob, sniff sniff.
Lunch, it harketh. A feast titled the Saint Paddy’s Day Burger. Yup, I lunched at an Irish bar and ordered me a March 17th special. No one pinched me until it came time for the bill and then one of the Lieutenant Commanders touched me for a twenty. Rank and all, I duly rogered up a Jackson. The only interest on the twenty, I told him, was that I was interested in getting it back some day.
- McP’s St Paddy’s Cheeseburger, get some!
Okay, by now, you are probably on the edge of your seat. Won’t this yappy Sailor tell us all about his burger! Enough with teh Navily schtuff. Disclose the gastronomical details, pwease. Was it worth the trip across the suicidal bridge, a growly Senior, and a parking sitch from purgatory? Yup, it was all that.
I ordered the burg medium rare. I like ’em even rarer, but I have yet to find a place to serve it alive, what with the a coli, b coli, c coli, d coli, and e coli issues we got in Cali. That coli family, a regular bunch of Mansons.
And yes indeedy, the meaty masterpiece was medium rare. Red, slightly bloody. Damn. I want one right now. It is hard to type over a slobbery keyboard. Call me Sylvester.
The fries were great. Fresh. Perfect. I was in love. Not like it was hard with me, rye cheeseburgers, and grilled onions. The cheese, Schwiss. Sheeeshburger, it was. Don’t call me Sylvester, rather call me Romeo and I had me a lovestory. And then the tragedy when Juliet disappeared, only to wail from my stomach: O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? My cheeseburger called and I did not answer. Nothing left to tell really, other than the history of McPs.
From the LA Slimes:
While there are other watering holes favored by SEALs — including Danny’s Palm Bar and Grill in Coronado and Ye Olde Plank Inn in Imperial Beach — McP’s Irish Pub & Grill remains the most popular.
It’s here that SEALs come when they return from an overseas mission. This is the place where newly initiated SEALs celebrate after completing the grueling 26-week basic training at the Naval Special Warfare Center here.
TMZ even got in on the act (ignore the soldiers line below) lauding the Frogs after a successful midnight visit in Pok-ee-stan:
We’re told the soldiers went through 8 kegs, 15 cases of beer and TONS of cocktails in just four hours … while leading the bar in several “USA!” chants.
McPartlin tells us, “It’s great — Osama was expecting his 72 virgins, instead he got 24 Virginians!” (The Navy SEAL team that executed the mission is based in Virginia.)
- Combat Corpsman, no hamburger recipes
As for the McPartlin mentioned above, he is the great American who owns the joint. A decorated SEAL himself, he is an author too. From the Amazon jungle website:
All his life, Greg McPartlin wanted to be a Marine corpsman, a medic skilled at saving lives. Three months of “bagging-and-tagging” bodies during Vietnam’s Tet Offensive took the luster off being a Marine-but not off McPartlin’s desire to serve his country.
After assisting in the sea-recovery of Apollo 11-the first ship to bring men to the moon-the twenty-year-old McPartlin was redeployed to Vietnam as an elite Navy SEAL. Barred as a medic by the Geneva Convention from the make-or-break training considered vital to service as a Navy SEAL, McPartlin had to show he had what it took.
Prince Harry, that princely O-3 (aren’t they all?), even snuck off to McP’s while doing some whirly bird training out at El Centro (Spanish for the center):
- Captain Prince Harry
Harry, a.k.a. Capt. Harry Wales, visited several San Diego nightspots, including McP’s Irish Bar and Grill in Coronado, owned by a former Navy SEAL and favored by off-duty SEALs from the nearby base, according to KGTV (Channel 10).
He also visited the rooftop restaurant/bar of the Andaz hotel in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.
A tweet from the Andaz staff said that “Harry and his friends relaxed with some drinks while watching rugby.”
McP’s is a block from the Hotel del Coronado where local legend holds that Edward, Prince of Wales, met Wallis Simpson, who was then married to a Navy officer, during an official visit in 1920. Their romance caused Edward to renounce the crown in 1936 for “the woman I love.”
- Colonel Jerry Sanders, USMC. El Mayor, San Diego
The mayor of San Diego is Jerry Sanders. Due to the amazing amount of good grub in our fine village, I intend to start the rumor that Jerry was a Colonel in the Marine Corps and he has a predilection for friend chicken and very stringy ties. (Or is this not as funny as I imagine it to be? Note: Colonel Sanders is neither in the Corps, nor a fried chicken maven. He was, however, Police Chief and not the Village People version. The real deal.)
I started this post with the line: the Navy owns San Diego, but San Diego owns the Navy’s stomach. Perhaps I should re-write it to: San Diego owns both the Navy and the Navy’s stomach. Nothin’s easier to snare than a hongry Sailor.
Tell me, have you got a favorite cheeseburger?
* Upon fourteenth reading and recollection, Navy Sailors go anywhere for sweet chow. We some roamy types. Not restricted to locale or scared by cultural specaility. Ever heard of Pho, that Vietnamese miracle? Yeah, I’ve slurped me some serious bowls of ‘dat. Ox tale, tendons, volkswagons, all of it. . .