Charcoal House

Few places are better known for their ripened regulars.
  • Few places are better known for their ripened regulars.

Charcoal House

9566 Murray Drive, La Mesa

British actor Naveen Andrews once said: “Older women know who they are, and that makes them more beautiful than younger ones. I like to see a face with some character. I want to see lines. I want to see wrinkles.”

Few places are better known for their ripened regulars than the nearly half-century-old Charcoal House in La Mesa. Named for the underwhelming steakhouse in back, the Charcoal House is more notorious for its spacious front-of-the-house bar, which was long ago dubbed “the Wrinkle Room.”

A bit over a year ago, the Wrinkle Room got a facelift with new owners, management, and a renovation. Curious if the place still lived up to its label, I visited on a recent Wednesday to check out their famous karaoke.

Behold! Faces full with character and self-knowing were everywhere. Footloose cougars and post-menopausal saber-toothed tigers ruled the dance floor. A couple of over-eager young kits fumbled over Sublime lyrics with cocktails in their hands.

The comprehensive demographics came as no surprise. After all, out front, the Charcoal House’s big, red sign suggests a Chinese restaurant, while arched windows and mirrors inside hint at Mexican origins. The courtyard, meanwhile, looks like a miniature golf course.

It’s somewhere between all these aesthetics that one finds the classic Wrinkle Room patron — croaking out a haphazard rendition of “Summertime” or a lesser-known Sam Cooke number to a backdrop of sequined high heels tapping to the beat.

“Club Charcoal” on Friday and Saturday (10 p.m. to close) features DJ Frog selecting hip-hop and R&B jams with $3 shot specials.

There’s plenty of parking in the lot behind the bar, so be sure to bring a case of Ensure tallboys to tailgate with the girls before karaoke kicks off (also Thursdays, 8 p.m. to close).

  • Hours: 3 p.m. to midnight(ish) daily; until 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
  • Happy Hour: 3 to 7 p.m. daily — $2 domestics, $3 Premium, 25 percent off appetizers, and $1 off wells/wine
  • Cards accepted

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from around the web

More from SDReader


Also noteworthy: the building hasn't burned down in at least a decade - I remember the place going up in flames at least three times while I was a kid, always rising from the ashes...though repeated partial reconstruction could explain the weird layout.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader