When an early morning fire destroyed Pizza Italia in March of 2009, Northsiders temporarily lost popular live music venue Jack’s Patio Bar in addition to their local pizzeria. Though I was never clear on whether Jack’s sustained damages from the fire — it was located alongside Pizza Italia in the wooden-planked Thousand Oaks/Jones Maltsberger strip center — the music venue packed up and moved a block down the street.
But everything worked out in the end. Pizza Italia is serving up pizzas in a nearby shop, Jack’s is flourishing, and a unique bar/diner has taken over Jack’s old location. The doors of Evil Olive Elixir Lounge officially opened on the ever-popular bar night of Thanksgiving Eve. By the time Friday night rolled around, my buddies and I had grown weary of small talk, turkey, and television, so we decided to check it out.
Evil Olive’s distinct sign beckoned from Thousand Oaks, assuring us that something new was going on before we’d even stepped inside. Jack’s regulars will remember it being separated: one side for live music aficionados, the other for neighborhood drinkers. Evil Olive owner Rick Mueller has torn down the dividing wall and completely redone the bar’s interior, making excellent use of the ample space. The smoke-free environs are sleek without being pretentious, and the laid-back vibe beckons to a mixed crowd. Mueller said he hopes to add live music to the mix sometime down the road.
A quick glance at the nightly specials revealed that drinks are fairly cheap. A different liquor is on special each night of the week, while beer in the $2-$2.50 range is more than reasonable. Friday night’s offerings are probably the most expensive in the liquor department ($3.50 all premium vodka/$2.50 Bud Light), but $2.75 Crown on Tuesdays, $3.00 Bacardi on Thursdays, and $3.00 wells/$2.50 domestics on Saturdays make up for it.
I kept it local with a Tito’s and tonic before moving on to the food. Located inside Evil Olive is Phil’s Texas Diner, which serves true Texas BBQ, diner fare, and several desserts made from scratch (including fried bananas!). The diner stays open until the drinks stop flowing, so boozehounds and barflies alike can order food until 2 a.m.
If Phil’s sounds familiar, there may be reason. Preparing for Evil Olive’s launch, Phil’s was serving BBQ staples from a mobile food trailer in the Bitters Road strip center to get the word out.
The BBQ Sandwich is nicknamed the Phil, and BBQ Tacos are a steal at two for $3.50. Either can be made with brisket, chicken, pulled pork, or sausages. BBQ Nachos have also been a top seller, as have the hot wings, which are smoked and then fried. Friends sampled two different versions of the fried bananas, claiming that each was warm, moist, and incredible. One order had a light, crispy breading, while the other was rolled in rice paper, topped with brown sugar, and served like an eggroll.
The menus will probably be tweaked as bar and diner settle into their new digs, but we want people to know they’re open for business.
Evil Olive Elixir Lounge/Phil’s Texas Diner
2950 Thousand Oaks #5
Vibe: The smoke-free, modern casual environs are sleek, but the laid-back atmosphere beckons to a mixed Northside crowd
Best Use: Neighborhood drinking; Texas BBQ, diner fare, and homemade desserts served until 2 a.m.
Prices: Mondays: $2.75 wells, calls, premiums/$1.50 pints; Thursdays: $3 Bacardi/$2.50 Fireman’s 4; Saturdays: $3 wells/ $2.50 domestics