The Imperial, a bar on College Avenue in Oakhurst on the site of an old gas station, is comfortable and appealing, just like the retro automobile it is named after. Since day one (or maybe day two) it has been packed with an overwhelming crowd of neighborhood folks and bar regulars. Even early on a slow and cold Sunday night when I visited, tables were scarce. Why the big and happy crowds? – the space is comfortable with a nice big bar plus booths and tables; the owners are there to help welcome, seat, and serve customers; the menu is likeable and interesting enough; food is well prepared and of good quality; and the prices are right. What more could you want from a neighborhood bar?
Sure it is bar food, but it is good bar food — ample portions with just a few unexpected extras thrown in to make some of the menu items crave-able. The black eye pea dip sounds tame enough, but when it is topped with drizzles of sriracha hot sauce and served with veggies, pita, and those fabulous spears of pickled okra, it takes a step up. The chicken wings aren’t your wimpy little flats or peg legs – they are whole chicken wings served with your choice of dipping sauces – yum to the hot and sweet sauce. The charred broccoli salad served on arugula and accompanied by roasted beets, grilled apples and a big handful of cranberries will keep a veggie lover busy and happy for a while. And the big juicy burger not only has bacon but it has piminto cheese as well. It’s those extras that make you smile.
This being a beer joint, it has lots of beers — craft, draft, and familiar bottle brands; an ample list of hard liquors; and enough reasonable reds and whites to go with a bar food menu. So, if you are in the mood for some hops and food that makes your tummy happy, check out The Imperial.