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Commentary by Adam McIsaac on the Long Beach, CA tavern Joe Jost's.

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02.March 2010
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Joe Jost: a tribute.

A Long Beach, California tavern offers one of the few remaining legitimate tests of character

The grand façade of Joe Jost, Long Beach, California.

I’m in Long Beach – for what seems to be the rest of my life – working for General Motors. The hours are long and the rewards are spotty, but one of them has to be my introduction to the venerable neighborhood tavern Joe Jost’s, by the agency of my old friend Ronnie “The Sloth” Mendoza, a photographer1 and lifelong resident of these parts.

Some background: I’m staying at The Avia Hotel, which is near the marina and is very nice. It is, however, located in a shopping mall, or one of those modern outdoor equivalents that are designed to look like small towns. Very clean, very pleasant and indistinguishable from any other modern outdoor shopping experience in any other comparable city in the nation. Moreover, there is house music playing everywhere in and around the hotel around the clock (with the exception a dead zone near the parking garage where I take my morning coffee and tobacco).

Beyond earshot of the hotel, the mall’s sound system takes over and I can enjoy being educated in the latest entries in the Top 40 as I make my way to the Border’s, Chili’s, or Famous Dave’s Barbecue. Hooters – located right out the front door of the hotel – is not yet open, alas.

Mr. Jost cares not about the Top 40. He has a jukebox, which is mostly ignored, though you can pry some classic rock out of it if you like. What Mr. Jost cares about is cold beer, and accompaniments that will facilitate you drinking more of it.

First, beer: it arrives in a frozen schooner. It arrives covered by a layer of ice, because not only is the schooner frozen, the kegs are kept at 29.2°F. I believe that you may be able to get some craft beers there, but I drank Shiner Bock; most of the locals drink Busch.

Secondly, there are sandwiches. You need only concern yourself with the “special”, which is a Polish sausage split down the middle, filled with a dill pickle spear and wrapped in a slice of provolone and a slice of rye bread augmented by a smear of hot mustard. You may not like thinking of Joe Jost’s Specials, but you will not be able to stop eating them. My mate Mr. Bolecek ate four at one sitting; Mr. Jennings put away three.

Mr. Jost offers pickled eggs (which can also be purchased by the jar for you to enjoy at home) and also a delicacy known as “cut-up”, which is a Polish sausage cut into sections. Both arrive on a bed of pretzel sticks with hot mustard.

You may want to leave friends with highly developed sensibilities at home when you visit Mr. Jost. I think you’ll like it, but this is a proper tavern; those who profess connoissieurship in qualities of beer beyond temperature and quantity will not be interested. Those opposed to the pickled egg will be repulsed. And yet: perhaps you’re looking for a proving ground, a place to sort your friends into hail-fellows and prissy little misses. For that purpose, I could hardly suggest a more convivial venue than Joe Jost’s.

Notes
  1. dba "L'Ron 'The Sloth' Van Dozer, photographer of the West's most beautiful women, from the Valley all the way to San Berdoo."