July 14 2010 10:06 AM

Currant is where it's at

Photo by Jeff "Turbo" Corrigan

CURRANT  @ Sofia
140 W. Broadway

The best thing about a hotel bar is the bathroom. Elaborately folded-over toilette paper ensures freshness. Polished marble. Automated everything. Yeah, hotel-bar bathrooms are the best, I decide as I walk through the lobby of the Sofia Hotel back toward Currant, the Downtown restaurant that boasts a bar shaped like a rounded diamond (or a pointy oblong, depending on how you look at it).

My partner and I seat ourselves at one end of the point, then it's his turn to experience the bathroom.

I talk to a martini-filled, Chicago-based traveling man who swears this is his last trip to San Diego.

“I'm movin' here real soon,” he says with a slur, closing his bill and stumbling toward his room upstairs.

Most of the bar patrons are pretty lit. In fact, the let-loose, what-happens-out-of-town-stays-out-of-town feeling might just be the second best thing about bars hidden away inside hotels.

“Hotel bars are also awesome because you can dress however you want,” says my partner, who's notably less excited by the bathrooms than I. “There was this guy in the lobby wearing cargo shorts and Teva sandals and carrying a full bag of potato chips in one hand and a bomber of Corona in the other.”

Partner's got a point. Currant is an elegant joint, but you wouldn't know it by looking at our bar buddies—casual conventioneers mixed with a few vacationing foreigners.

Two Japanese men order sangria behind us and I follow suit— one sangria, one passion-fruit caipirinha. They're sweet, but pretty damn good.

I glance at the menu and nearly fall off my stool when I see the late-night happy-hour specials. For just a few bucks a pop, fried pickles, fried green beans, fancy-sounding french fries—even truffle-oil mac and cheese—are mine. All mine. I order 'em all and let my partner take a few bites.

Thanks to the over-sharing power of Twitter, I've been privy to several of the crazy popcorn concoctions Currant chefs come up with—buffalo blue cheese and yellow curry with cilantro, just to name two. It's tempting, but I resist. Instead, I check in on Foursquare.

“We're all about the Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare biznatch,” says the chirpy bartender, noticing the glow of my smart phone. “You talk to my manager about that and he gets the tingles, I swear.”

It's true. I've seen the 10-percent-off “Twitter Tuesday” deals tumble down the Currant Tweet feed from time to time.

Partner and I go back to drinking and eating the gourmet fried food. It's 10:30 p.m., and I giggle as I watch black-dress girls on their way to the Downtown clubs wobbling on their spiked heels outside.

“They get all scandalicious,” says the peppy bartender. “That's why we close at midnight; because any later and the Downtown douchebags would flood the place.”

I look toward the other end of the bar at the shoulderless-turtleneckwearing cougar and the convention men with their ties off and decide that she's right. It's best to close early, keep catering to the tourists and let whatever locals happen to wander in enjoy their lucky discovery.


See all events on Tuesday, Oct 25