Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Review: Shifty's Bar & Grill

Name: Shifty's Bar & Grill
Address: 1401 Burnett Ave, Syracuse, NY
Neighborhood: Eastwood
Website: www.shiftysbar.com
Menu: View Menu
Cuisine: Traditional Bar Food
Alcohol: Full Bar
Kitchen Hours: Monday to Friday 11 AM - Midnight, Saturday to Sunday Noon - Midnight
Bar Hours: Monday to Friday 11 AM - Close, Saturday to Sunday Noon - Close
Parking: On-Street
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Take-Out: Yes

Opened in 1969 as a small, corner bar on Burnett and Greenway Ave, Shifty's Bar & Grill has been home to some of the best live music in the city for decades. And if that isn't enough, the slogan underneath their logo says it all: Shifty's - cold beer, hot wings, and live music.

Parking can be a bit of a nuisance. It's on-street, and Burnett can be a little sketchy at night sometimes. Personally, I've never had a problem, but you may have to do a block or two of walking depending on how busy of a night it is. As you walk in, you immediately know what kind of vibe the place has - look up and you'll notice a large, red model plane with "Burnett" and "Greenway" painted on the sides, with a brazier hanging over the back. The atmosphere is upbeat, music is loud and fun, and it's what you would expect from a good neighborhood bar. Clientele is predominantly in the 40-60 age range, but even if you are a 20-something like myself, you won't feel out of place here. Everyone is smiling and having a great time listening and dancing to live rock and roll.

Framed pictures cover all the walls: the area around the stage has black and white pictures of blues musicians and past musicians who have played on stage and the entrance area has framed pictures of former Yankee, Mets, and Brooklyn Dodgers players, Syracuse University athletes, and historic photographs of downtown Syracuse. The place is definitely a Yankee bar through and through (No worries if you are a Mets fan like myself. They are happy to change over one of the many flat screens that hang on the walls - unfortunately, I can't vouch for Sox games). Shifty's also features a pool table (which takes up a large portion of the entrance room), darts (both English style and electronic), and a pinball machine. To the right of the bar, there's a gigantic, live music schedule of everything going on during the month. It's easy to see that Shifty's prides itself on hosting local music. This also includes their open mic night on Wednesdays which is the longest running in Syracuse.

Seating is limited as there are only a few tables (they tend to put some of them away when a band is performing), so don't be surprised if you have to wait for a table to open up or stand to eat your food. Most of the food on the menu is "hand food" anyway (sans knife and fork) so it's not too big of an issue.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good look at the beer selection. I only noticed a few beers on tap. From what I've read online though, Shifty's has roughly 99 different kinds of beers available and also features a "Shifty 50" beer tour - finish them to become a member of their "Hall of Foam".

As far as ordering food goes, there's no waiter service, so your best bet is to make your way up to the small, ordering window on the left side of the bar.

For such a small establishment, the menu actually has a lot to offer: Chicken Tenders, Fried Mushrooms, Homemade Potato Chips, Pizzas, Salads, Subs, Wraps, Gianelli Sausage Sandwiches, Burgers, and so on. But, considering Shifty's advertises it on their slogan, I had to go with wings.

The order...

Blue Moon on tap: $3.50
Dozen Hot Wings: $6.50
Total Money Spent with Tax & Tip: $11.00

The food took a little while to cook. It was a hoping, Friday evening, so maybe they were just backed up with a lot of orders on this particular night. And just a heads up: getting your food can be a bit of a hassle depending on how busy the place is. Keep your eyes (and if possible, your ears) aware of when the bartender signals to you that your order is ready.

Pictured above are Shifty's hot wings.

These wings were excellent. Just the right amount of crispy skin and juicy chicken. So tasty. My only real complaint was that there was no indication of any sauce on the outside. Normally, this would lead to a dry chicken wing, but it wasn't the case here as the meat provided just enough to contradict that. Temperature-wise, they leaned slightly on the medium side and didn't strike me as being that hot (I'm always a little apprehensive about ordering hot wings - one man's "hot" is another's "medium"), so I think next time I order wings here I may be a bit more inclined to ask for their award winning "F-Bomb" sauce. At any rate, these were really great chicken wings.

Some other notes...

- They have a 25 cent wing special on Mondays

- There's never a cover charge at the door

Overall, I liked pretty much everything about the place: it was a fun and lively atmosphere, the wings were great, the music assures you that you are in Syracuse, NY and it's an excellent spot for local flavor and local pride. I'll be going back in the future.

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