The Vogue Tavern has definitely become an international crossroads in Chula Vista – part traditional German beer hall, English pub and American bar.
It’ also become a favorite place to watch Padres baseball games during warm summer evenings on the establishment’s outdoor parklet.
“The first six months, we were just a beer hall serving pretzels and a few appetizers,” co-founder Alan Cassell explained. “We had always planned on developing our menu, then COVID hit and we had the time to do that.”
It was time well spent.
“We got to know the community,” Cassell explained. “Our menu has grown to include burgers, international food is served, and a lot of shareables.”
The pretzels remain the establishment’s signature item since its opening in 2019. They come in sizes that vary from seven to 12 inches ($7 small, $12 large). Dipping sauces include beer cheese, brown mustard and yellow mustard.
Like many items, it’s large enough to share.
Other popular shareable items include the binge box (a veritable mountain of chicken wings, French fries and tater tots) and the sausage party (grilled kielbasa, bratwurst, bison and Italian chicken sausages with garlic grilled crostini with a side of fruit and house-made pickled veggies).
Both are $25, but again, are piled high and will feed several hungry mouths.
For those who want a bit more, there are four entree items to explore, all with an international flair — fish and chips (English), chicken schnitzel (German), banger and mash (English/Irish) and steak frites (French).
Prices range from $12 to $18 for the entrée items.
Prices are very reasonable throughout the entire menu.
Shareables and starters also include mac and beer cheese ($8), tavern tater tots ($7), chicken wings ($9 for four pieces and $14 for eight pieces), chicken strips ($7 for two pieces and $11 for four pieces), deep fried pickle spears ($6), French fries ($7) and Polish kielbasa sausage hand battered and coated with panko crumbs and deep fried ($8).
For diners with a more vegetarian slant, there are the house salad, Caesar salad and wedge salad, all for $9.
Flatbreads (with extra toppings) include cheese, margherita, Korean barbecue and buffalo chicken and start at $11.
Burgers and sandwiches include the bison burger ($12), Angus burger ($8), double cheeseburger ($15), Chula fishta beer-battered cod ($12), sausage sandwich ($10) and chicken spicy sandwich ($12).
The sausage sandwich includes a choice of kielbasa, bratwurst or bison sausage on either a French roll or pretzel bun. Sauerkraut or fried and peppers and onions are an add-on.
The specialty wiener box ($29) includes two Polish sausages in French rolls and two bratwurst sausages in pretzel buns served with sauerkraut, peppers and onions and a very large side of fries.
Cassell said perhaps the best way to describe the menu is comfort “pub grub.” That’s not a slight because that’s what the menu is slanted toward.
It certainly passed our taste test.
The wings, strips and flatbreads are perfect for late night snacks.
Fish and chips are actually a fusion dish from two immigrant cultures that has become a staple in England and emblematic of that country’s cuisine. It’s a common take-away food in the United Kingdom and particularly in other English-speaking countries, the United State included.
Fish and chips shops started to pop up in the UK in the 1860s, though the fried fish part of the combination had existed in London and southeast England several decades prior to that. By the 1930s, there are more than 35,000 shops in the UK selling the combination.
It was one of the few foods safeguarded by the British government and not subject to rationing during the two world wars.
Cod or haddock is traditionally served across the pond; cod is served up at the Vogue Tavern along with shoestring French fries, tartar sauce and lemon wedge for $12.
In the German-speaking world, a schnitzel is a thin slice of meat usually pounded with a meat tenderizer, then breaded before frying. The meat can beef, pork, beef, mutton or turkey. The dish is very similar to chicken-fried steak in the United States.
Wiener schnitzel, first described in 1845 in Vienna, has become a national dish in Austria.
The pan-fried cutlet is often served with fried potatoes and green salad in the old country.
The Vogue Tavern cooks serve its version ($12) on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes covered in mushroom gravy and capers.
A traditional British dish, bangers and mash consist of sausages served with mashed potatoes.
According to Wikipedia, the name, which is in common usage in the UK, dates to World War I when there were meat shortages and sausages were made with such a high-water content that they were liable to pop under high heat when cooked.
Bangers consist of a variety of flavored sausages made from pork, lamb or beef. The dish is traditionally served with onion gravy and sometimes with sides of peas and grilled onions.
The Vogue Tavern uses two big bratwurst sausage ($13) served over garlic mashed potatoes covered with brown onion gravy.
A pint of beer goes well with any of the dishes, especially the sausage dishes.
Steak frites (steak and fries in French) has become considered by some to be the national dish of Belgium and the location of its invention. Rump or rib-eye streak is used in Europe. The dish has since become popularized throughout the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking world.
The local version ($18) is served sliced atop jalapeño truffle fries, parmesan cheese with pesto aioli.
As for atmosphere, 80s music plays all the time. Once inside any visitor also will notice the Star Wars memorabilia and collectables. “Both of the founders have a mild to more than mild obsession with ‘Star Wars,’” Cassell said.
The establishment recently received its liquor license and serves a full array of martinis, whiskey, vodka and other specialty drinks and beers.
Happy hours are 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cornhole league family night is Tuesday. Industry Night is celebrated Wednesday from 10 p.m. to midnight.
The Vogue Tavern is located at 230 Third Ave., Chula Vista. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
For more information, call (619) 371-3322 or visit voguetavern.com. The restaurant is also on Facebook and Instagram (@voguetav).