At least for me, the main draw at Downtown's Stout Public House has nothing to do with the food. It's all in the Guinness, or, rather, its presentation. Not only do the bartenders pour it methodically and serve it at just below room temperature, the way they should; they configure that cute little shamrock on the top of the foam in the blink of an eye. They can get a little sloppy every now and then—once, one came out looking sort of like a digger wasp, touching off my phobia about stinging insects and fueling a $3-billion malicious-mischief lawsuit that lasted 73-and-a-half years.
But before all that, Stout had served me some of the best cheap eats in this city, a few of which don't necessarily comport with the Celtic idea behind the place. There's nothing particularly Irish, for example, about spicy Thai chicken drumettes or pasta primavera, but both are absolutely delicious, especially in the face of the price ($7 and $10, respectively). But the Irish character of the food here may center on the shepherd's pie ($9.50)—it's gotta be the lamb that makes it so good, and somebody knows how to marinate the ground beef to boot.
I have no idea why shepherd's pie is so often maligned for its blandness; Stout does it to perfection, and you need only stop in at 1125 Sixth Ave. between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. seven days a week for proof (the number is 619-702-7933). There's a happy hour every day from 4 to 8 p.m., too. Just don't let your cat around your Guinness. Shamrocks, after all, are potentially toxic to felines. And we already know what happens when they take to the air.