The Rosa Mia Inn could be the neighborhood bar on the corner that movies and TV always told you was out there. The service is as warm as the beer is cold, and there's a feeling of nostalgia and bonhomie that no amount of reclaimed lumber or restaurant consultants could provide. Almost as important -- the drinks are really cheap. The Inn's two happy hours, from 10 a.m. to noon and 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. are an ideal way to get a blast from the past.
In business since 1966, the Rosa Mia is now part of a changing neighborhood. The cute little pink building in West Highland abuts a fancy-schmancy apartment complex. Concessions to modernity have been made; a recent renovation buffed out some of the bar's grit and added more TVs and a blaring digital jukebox. But Coors Light, Bud Light and Budweiser are still the only things on tap, still just $2 at happy hour -- as they have been for years. All wells are $3.25, and a can of PBR is always cheap.
I had hoped for a spot of bar food to kick-start my thirst, but the Rosa Mia's kitchen is really just a microwave and a small pizza oven. (Soft pretzels and cheese pizzas are available for the curious.) Amazingly enough, the bartender plunked down a big bowl o' complimentary pretzels to go with the beer -- a custom I thought had died out with the first Bush administration. The Inn offers a free taco bar from 4-7 on Fridays and Bingo on Sundays. It's ladies' night every Monday and guys' night the next -- eat your heart out, Steve Horner.
The regulars here are real characters. I entered the Rosa Mia while a sing-along to "Hey, Good Lookin'" was in swing, and by plugging in "Shake Your Groove Thing" on the jukebox, I inadvertently caused a mini-dance party. In the back there are a couple skill games; I immediately began kicking Martian ass while sipping a whiskey soda at a well-maintained Attack From Mars pinball table.
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Though I've tried many good happy hours in this series so far, none of those were as satisfying as my trip to the Rosa Mia. Haunting restaurants at happy hour often feels like being a guest at a party you weren't invited to. The Rosa Mia feels like home.