A logo of an amphibian wearing a sailor hat and an Elvis-esque sneer, a pool stick in one hand and a frosty mug o' beer in the other, welcomes you to The Salty Frog in Imperial Beach, where, like its namesake, some of the die-hard regulars are jumpy, slimy and just might give you warts.
Formerly known as The Far East Rock—an homage to the Thai brothel of the same name, with which the bar shared a dubious reputation—a gimmicky theme and fresh coat of green paint helped cover its past life, although some memories remain. A sign that reads “Beware, poker players and loose women are known to frequent this establishment” rests by the entrance, while three ceiling lights hanging over the pool tables attract an army of mosquitoes and gnats. The walls are decorated with vintage beer containers, and by the bar area, a brass bell hangs with a second caution: “Whoever rings the bell in jest, pays the drinks for all the rest.”
While it's been seven months since its doors reopened under the new motif, many of the joint's Far East decorations live on, such as several Southeast Asian license plates displayed throughout and a wooden statue of a Philippine warrior holding up a severed human head. The back cinder-block rec room is a must-see, with its gnarly murals, shuffleboard table and unique vending machine that's sure to add to the revelry—just don't try to make barmaid Courtney the Miss Piggy to your Kermit. Freshly back from a second tour in Iraq, she can kick your ass all the way to Fraggle Rock.
Behind the bar—which sports 13 beer taps—a cornucopia of party essentials awaits, ranging from a large Folgers can to a tin of Old Bay fish seasoning. Then there's the ultimate sign of a dive: a covered glass jug filled with pickled eggs that hold the power to give you explosive diarrhea within three minutes of ingesting them. Trust me.
Time to add another warning sign.The Salty Frog is located at 992 Palm Ave., Imperial Beach.www.thesaltyfrogib.com.