Monday, September 19, 2011

Mario's Fishbowl

Mario's Fishbowl is a legend in Morgantown. Sometimes I say a place is a favorite among the locals, well, Mario's Fishbowl is THE favorite among the locals. This bar and grill is packed, literally, with memories and stories. They're written all over the walls, in fact. It's difficult to do this place justice, but I'm definitely going to try.

Mario's Fishbo- wl is synon- ymous with Morgantown, the city. Not the college town - as this place isn't filled with college students. Instead, it's filled with Morgantown natives and those who truly enjoy a good beer and some awesome people. It's a tiny place along Richwood Avenue - so it's not along the main drag, which weeds out the casual college kid, but invites the common frequenter. Parking is spotty, at best, but patrons will parking miles down the street to get a seat inside.

When you walk into Mario's, it's a free for all. If the crowd is feeling up to it, they'll cheer as you walk in. If you're lucky, you might snag one of the 10 booths or tables. But there's a good chance that the bar or long bench area might be your only option. The tables and booths are squeezed in, and it's not infrequent to be as close to a stranger as you are to the people you are dining with.

On this particular day, me and my friend chose the bar stool area. Soon after, a waitress came over with menus and took our drink orders. Now this is where Mario's "Fishbowl" comes into play - the beers they serve are in large, fishbowl-like glasses. They actually come in two sizes, but for most people, the regular they serve is enough. The other size is larger, but I won't even attempt that one. For a little over $3, this fishbowl filled with Bud Light (and ice cold, at that) cannot be beat. As we looked over our menus, we noticed a smaller table had opened up. I placed my order for a philly cheesesteak, while my friend ordered the special of the day - a bbq pork wrap. We then snagged the table, sipped our beers and took a look around.

I've been to Mario's a few times, but it'll never be enough to see everything there is to see. The walls are lined with notes and posters and pictures of patrons and "records" they've set and special memories. It's really the laidback and comforting atmosphere that makes Mario's feel like home. It's not skimpy-clothed girls or loud obnoxious guys, it's a really chill environment, and it's relaxing. The yellowed papers on the walls could take days to read, and this place means so much to so many people.

My philly cheesesteak came out, paired with some ruffles chips, piping hot. Tender sliced steak and white cheddar cheese, sprinkled with some green peppers made for a delicious sandwich. Each bite had a combo of the cheese, meat and peppers to make for a satisfying sandwich. The menu does feature typical bar fare, but it's not cheap ingredients deep-fried. Every piece of steak I bit into was tender and juicy. This wasn't the cheap, processed kind that one would typically expect from a bar. The cheese was melty and covered the entire sandwich. It was just fantastic. The salty chips complemented the sandwich, and it was all washed down with a cold beer. It doesn't get much better than that.

The waitresses were more than helpful to refill our fishbowls if we wanted. All the while, a small jukebox is on the wall playing whatever music the patrons want. While we were there, we heard quite a few Britney Spears songs. Our bill came to around $20 for the food, good service and fantastic atmosphere. You can even buy a fishbowl glass to take with you. I already own one, of course.

This is one of those places you must experience before leaving Morgantown. In fact, it's probably at the top of the list. I haven't met someone who doesn't like this place. Or maybe I'm just not friends with those types of people.

Grade: A
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