Padres Opening Day: Dragon’s Den Vs. Tilted Kilt

Baseball bar battles: Opening shots (Bourbon or Saktea?)

They’ve closed off J Street between 6th and 10th Avenues for the baseballs season’s opening day block party.

And the Dragon’s Den (315 10th Avenue, East Village, by Petco Park, 619-358-9332) is using hi-tech to cope with the onrush of crowds before and after the Padres-Dodgers game. Across 10th, the Tilted Kilt chain is gearing up just as frantically.

Dragon’s Den?

It has two Secret Weapons.

“We have ‘draft tables,” says James the barman as I sup on his Black Market Rye IPA ($3.75 happy hour price, a dollar off the regular price. It comes from Temecula). He points to a round table with two beer taps sticking out the top.

“Here you give us your credit card, tell us which beers you want, and then you and your group just pour your own beers. Happy hour price all day. Great for groups, and in the crowds you don’t have to wait to get service at the bar.”

Wow. Sounds dangerously beautiful.

But it’s got competition: “The Tower” is a gimmick I’d go for. James is setting it up.

It’s about three feet high, holds 122 ounces of beer, and beams out a wicked glow at the bottom. The base advertises Chang Beer (“Chang” is Thai for “Elephant”). It takes up the table space of a plate, and lets you pour your own drinks. Costs $32 for Bud Light or Sapporo; $40 for Avery White Rascal or Karl Strauss’s Red Trolley.

And food? Me, I’m eating a (yes, I know) California roll. Hey, it’s $4.50, and the tastes in other rolls I’ve had around town are often so subtle I wouldn’t know the difference after the first bite and dip in the soy-wasabi whatever.

But they have special menus out for Game Day that includes pretty good deals on, like fish and chips ($8) and shrimp fried rice ($9), fish sliders ($4.50 and – this’d be my choice – BBQ Chinese roasted pork sliders ($5). Lots of other small bites around $5 too.

But back to the drinx: “Which is the most popular of those two, The Tower and the Draft Table?” I ask Michael the owner. He’s behind the bar supervising the stock-up for the day’s expected rush.

“Honestly? I don’t know,” he says, “but I’m hoping the draft table, because filling the tower takes one tap out of commission for quite a bit of time.”

Meanwhile he's hot to trot about their latest drink, debuting this very opening day. SakTea, a combo of sake and tea. I get one. Ten bucks. Good, really good. But, uh, ten bucks...

Next: Tilted Kilt.

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