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They say breaking up is hard to do. . .

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 Dear "Cheaters",

There is no easy way to say this, so I’m just gonna spit it out:  I’ve been seeing someone else. 

I want you to know that I’ll always have love for you.  When I was new to town, you took me in, and I’ll never forget that.  We’ll always have Oregon basketball; who knows, maybe we can ring in the new arena together next fall.

You need to understand that it’s not you, it’s me.  Please, don’t cry.  Stop it.  You’re a still wonderful bar, I’ve just found someone I’m more compatible with.  

It’s been going on a few weeks now. I wanted to watch the Giants game and grab a beer, but it was raining, and I didn’t want to go all the way down Folsom to do it. I’d noticed this place on 19th that looked pretty cool.  I went in, had a drink and, well, one thing led to another. Next thing I knew, the Giants game was over and the NBA playoffs had started and I was still there, having a great time. It was as if we’d known each other our whole lives.

O.K., O.K., I’ll tell you who it is, but you have to promise not to make a scene.  You probably know her, and this is already awkward enough. Are you gonna be chill?

It’s The Zebra Club.  I’m sorry, it just happened!   I think I may be in love. Don’t say that. Please don’t cheapen what we had.  Fine, you wanna know why? I’ll tell you why:

The Zebra has everything you have: the flat screens, the sports packages (all of them), the Golden Tee, the wireless, the jukebox,  the darts, the hugely eclectic group of regulars, the friendly bartenders playing dice with the customers for drinks.  It has all that, and it’s right in the heart of Midtown!

No, I’m not too lazy to go across town. If it were just that, I’d be comfortable with a long(er) distance relationship. The Zebra has plenty of things you don’t: a large, covered patio out back complete with plenty of tables and an outdoor big screen.  

Inside, to go along with the Golden Tee, there are two pretty sweet old-school pinball machines. Sometimes, I like to get my "Simpsons Pinball Party" on, and I just can’t do that with you.

Also, the drinks are a little cheaper, and they have, like, 20 beers on tap.  You don’t have an answer to $1.75 draft PBR, do you?  And don’t tell me about $2.25 Olympia cans. I don’t want to hear it.

All these things are nice, but what really sets the Zebra apart is the tiny kitchen and the fantastic pub fare that flows from within.  

On the day I had lunch, the specials were spaghetti and meatballs, a chicken club, and a pastrami and bacon cheeseburger.  I saw all three, and they looked great, especially the burger, but I went with the New York steak sandwich.  The garlicky steak was as tender as can be, smothered in grilled onions and mushrooms and served on a toasted soft roll. I got it with a crisp green salad as well as a side of very well prepared fries.  Thanks, Bert!  I got all that and six PBRs for under 20 bucks.  You can’t beat that with a stick.

There is nothing fancy about the menu. For lunch, they’ve got burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, hot wings and a couple of salads. That’s it.  The chefs, Bert and Eric, don’t do too much, but that which they do, they do very well. A huge plate of the wings just walked right by me.  They look and smell amazing.  

And they are awful accommodating.  I was there in the late afternoon two weeks ago, and one of the regulars returned from the coast with a bunch of seafood he’d picked up.  Bert took it back into the kitchen, and emerged an hour later with piping hot bowls of cioppino, complete with crusty slabs of garlic bread. Maybe one day I’ll go to the coast and get some seafood.  You’d probably kick me out if I pulled a stunt like that.

Oh yeah, did I mention that The Zebra is open for breakfast every day? Breakfast? At a dive bar? Yeah, breakfast. At a dive bar.  And you know what? It’s fantastic. Jess and I went in around 11:30, but Eric was happy to prepare us breakfast even though the lunch crowd had started arriving.  We split the chicken fried steak and eggs and the biscuits and gravy.  They were among the  best examples of each dish I’d ever had.  The biscuits were perfectly fluffy, and the sausage gravy surprisingly light and tasty.  My only complaint is that  I didn’t get quite enough of the creamy goodness atop the lightly breaded steak, so I had to steal some from the biscuits.  Kinda like stealing from Peter to pay Paul, but I couldn’t help myself.

We got all that and a PBR for $15.00, including tip.  Game. Set. Match.

I’m sorry "Cheaters,"  but I just couldn’t go on living a lie. Good food is a trump card that you just can’t beat. And, let’s be honest, you’re called "Cheaters" — you probably should have seen this coming. I hope we still can see each other from time to time.  I mean, college basketball season will be here before you know it.  Until then, well, you know where to find me. 

If you can’t find me at The Zebra, you can always try lindol@gmail.com

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