You’ve probably never heard of Shab Dabs. I hadn’t until I went to the new Black Bear on Evansdale and saw this neighboring “bar and grill.” I was worried that “bar and grill” was really just code for beer and gambling, but we did see one sign on the outside that said a special about wings, so that was our go-ahead to check it out.
We walked inside to see a fairly small bar and a pool table. That was about it, besides the three folks sitting there, who all turned to look at us and continued to until we took our seat at the bar. As soon as I sat down, the bartender walked over to me with a concerned look – as though I wasn’t in the right place. I asked for a menu; she didn’t say a word and shoved a small counter topper toward me. “This is it,” she said.
I looked over the menu cautiously, as I could feel the eyes of the three men burning into my skin. Not necessarily in a bad way, but more in a curious way. Nobody goes here to just eat. The menu had 13 items total: chicken tenders, potato wedges, breaded mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, 2 chili dogs w/ wedges, wings, pepper jack bites, jalapeno poppers, onion rings, fish or chicken sandwich w/ wedges, pepperoni rolls (w/ chili and cheese), and shrimp.
I, at first, ordered wings. After a few minutes of her rummaging around in their freezer, she told me they did not have any. So, I ordered chicken tenders (three) and a side of pepper jack bites. And a coke. The fellow patrons were so confused by me. One woman walked in and said she was buying a round, including my friend and I. I thankfully declined. It was noon after all; I’m good. Looking back, I should’ve. Just to make some friends. But I was already worried about what my food was going to be like, and I didn’t want a beer on top of that.
A few minutes after the bartender disappeared into the kitchen, she came out with two baskets full of fried food. In the center was a cool cup of ranch. I broke apart a chicken tender to see what I was working with – not too shabby! (ha – see what I did there?) Yes, these are frozen and deep-fried, but it wasn’t the super cheap, mechanically separated piece filling. It was better than that. And the cheese balls were pretty good too – with a slight kick, but oozing full of cheese and a crispy breaded coating, they were a fried heaven. I was surprised by how decent this food was.
The area could use some light (that’s how my friend likes to say it’s shady), and if you’re near Black Bear, by all means, just go to Black Bear. But if you’re craving slightly better bar food at a pretty cheap price (for both mine and my friend’s meal, it was only $11), it wouldn’t hurt to check it out. Plus their beer seems fairly cheap - $3 tankers.