Loaded Tots and Afterschool Special from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Loaded Tots and Afterschool Special from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Beyond the Ale: Imperial Grill

Good prices and a Tex-Mex spin make for a solid showing

In a week of wishy-washy weather that refuses to commit to being properly wintery, we found ourselves seeking solace in the embrace of food at the Imperial Grill for the second installation of the Empire’s bar food review series, “Beyond The Ale.”

The Imperial Grill is housed in but a separate business from Imperial Billiards and Bar on Front Street. Almost a year old, having opened in February, it’s the most recent eatery to open in one of Juneau’s bars.

Quick service, copious seating areas by the kitchen, and staff that brings the food to your table when they can are all plus points to a simple and straightforward bar menu. It doesn’t try to be anything it ain’t and that forthrightness can make all the difference.

Speaking as someone who spent time living in Texas, I also appreciate a slight Tex-Mex spin on the menu, with tacos, burritos and quesadillas making an appearance. With long hours, from opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 12:30 a.m. on work nights and 2:30 a.m. on the weekend, it’s there to enfold you in its loving, nacho-cheese smelling arms, whether you’re looking for a quick lunch, losing badly at trivia with friends, or getting your round in on a Saturday night.

Nolin Ainsworth — Smash Burger

It’s not a complicated burger, but therein lies its strength. By being a straightforward sandwich, the taste of the burger meat comes into focus, and will practically melt in your mouth. It’s compact enough to be scarfed down in three minutes, but I recommend taking your time eating it.

Ben Hohenstatt — Super Tots

“Super Tots” sets the bar a little higher than this dish can clear. “Pretty Good Tots” would be closer to the mark. It’s not that they do anything wrong, it’s just that nacho cheese drizzle on tater tots topped with green onion, bacon and sriracha can only do so much. They go down easy though, and they’d be a solid shared appetizer to add to any trivia team’s table.

Loaded Tots and Afterschool Special from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Loaded Tots and Afterschool Special from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Ben Hohenstatt — The Afterschool Special

Bacon, mozzarella and jalepeños fried in an eggroll with Sriracha. I could absolutely imagine housing like five of these after a day of studies, so the name is well-earned. They’re more savory than they are spicy and have a great crunch factor.

Michael S. Lockett — Crunchy Wrap

After eating this, I’ve changed the way I evaluate my life, dividing it into all the time before I tried the Crunchy Wrap and after, the moment when my life really began.

The Crunchy Wrap is tortilla wrapped around ground beef, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and sour cream, grilled to perfection. Fan’s of Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme will recognize this improvement on that winning formula for what it is: the most perfect and elegant food delivery vector available to us as a species at this time.

It was big. It was girthy. It was nourishing. It had such heft. Like a delicious brick, I could see myself throwing it through a department store window and enriching myself considerably, and then enjoying a delicious and filling meal afterward.

Truly, I went searching for copper and instead discovered gold.

Peter Segall — Chicken Sando

The “Chicken Sando” was pretty much everything you’d want from bar food. It was hot, it was greasy (but not too greasy) and best of all, it had a really nice crunch to it. The sando itself is fairly bare-bones: a piece of fried chicken breast, pickles, sauce and shredded lettuce. The chicken was just right, with a good layer of fried, crunchy batter which gave it a good texture when you bit into it.

The main drawback was there wasn’t enough flavor to it. It needed more/better sauce or something to really make it pop. Also shredded lettuce is just ridiculous, it always just ends up falling off whatever sandwich it’s on.

Overall

7.8/10: Good food, good location, excellent window seats for people watching, good prices. Will eat again.

About Beyond The Ale

Our staff picked a range of food and evaluated it independently. All of these evaluations reflect the experience of the individual journalist, and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation for or against any given restaurant.

Beyond The Ale will return next week with our next bar food review.


• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.


Crunchy Wrap from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Crunchy Wrap from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Beyond the Ale: Imperial Grill

Crunchy Wrap from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Chicken Sando from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Chicken Sando from Imperial Grill at Imperial Billiard and Bar downtown. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

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