If, in a sequel to Top Gun, Maverick went on a meth bender and decided to open up his own bar, The Landing Strip would be it. Located inside the Brown Field Municipal Airport (1424 Continental St. in Otay Mesa), and with killer views for days, thanks to some nifty floor-to-ceiling windows, it's the definition of off-the-beaten-path.
Neon signs, vintage glider pictures galore and an artist's larger-than-life rendering of Jimmy Buffet's Volcano album cover autographed by Monsieur Margaritaville himself decorate the walls (turns out Buffet is a fan of the haunt, but he's not the bar's only brush with fame—Nickelback and Christina Aguilera have also earned their wings at the Strip).
In an ode to nearby TJ perhaps, beer is sold in buckets. A six-pack of Tecate runs $12, while a mixand-match grab bag will set you back $17.
“What's your name, hun?” the affable bartender enquired. After responding, I asked for hers.
“Nova” she replied. “Like the car,” I said. “Hold on,” she responded.
“There's a car named Enrique?”
Needless to say, I was sold right then and there.
Nova cranked up Depeche Mode's Black Celebration, much to the dismay of an older regular by the name of Joe. Then she challenged me to a game of 9-ball and offered to mix her signature drink.
“It's called ‘Pink Pussy' and everyone loves it,” she grinned.
I hadn't had one since my college days, so I happily obliged.
“The secret is the Mary Poppins technique,” she said as she topped it off with a spoonful of sugar.
After some good pussy pounding, we switched to another local favorite, the Crash Landing—a vodka, peach Schnapps and, for all I know, jet-fuel-topped concoction. She kept the “secret” ingredients hidden from view.
Clearly, I'd picked the wrong day to quit drinking. Like a TSA patdown to the liver, a couple of those drinks later, I was left feeling not so much fly like a G6, but more like a lower-budget Soul Plane.
Capping the night off with a piña colada—another Nova recommendation—I gazed at Buffet's hand-written dedication and his mangled attempt at Spanish.
“Look closely,” Joe indicated. “It says, ‘A todo mes amigos' instead of ‘Todos mis amigos,'” he pointed out.
“I guess you can say he messpelled it.”