On Friday and Saturday nights, Hogue Barmichael's continues to live up to its reputation as a premiere meet market, where party animals pack the building like they're riding a morning subway.
But weeknights, it's a definite happening place for those who enjoy ordering hearty saloon food and chatting about the day's events over an ice-cold pitcher of beer.
Hogue Barmichael's truly does live up to its slogan, "A Saloon for All Reasons."
Midweek, there is plenty of room to sit, order a sizzling steak, a crisp salad or a juicy hamburger and take in the decor of this funky establishment.
Country-Western artifacts, beer signs and posters clash on the walls. And flags from various countries and states drape from the cavernous ceiling. But the eclectic design--or lack of it--serves to enhance the coolness of this joint rather than detract from it.
All ordering and picking up of food must be done at the counter in front of the kitchen door and paid for in cash. The place does not take credit cards.
The most expensive (if you can call it that) item on the menu is the 10-ounce top sirloin steak ($6.95), which is served with a dinner salad and onion rings.
The most unusual-sounding item is the Hogue Birdmichael ($5.50), a 10-ounce boneless breast of chicken, marinated in teriyaki sauce, grilled and served with buttered broccoli and a dinner salad. Everyone but President Bush is sure to love this dinner. The teriyaki is not too overbearing and the chicken is served tender, not dry.
In addition to the wide assortment of hamburger dishes (ranging in price from $3.75 to $4.95), the kitchen offers five sandwiches, including a good hot dog smothered in meaty chili that's neither too spicy nor too bland.
Thinking of Hogue Barmichael's as a restaurant and not simply as a bar may be a little strange to most folks. But a little change of perspective will definitely be rewarded.
Hogue Barmichael's, 1976 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa. The kitchen is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. (714) 645-3678.