The Kansas City Barbecue joint right across from the San Diego Manchester Hyatt, on Harbor Blvd., is a regular dive. The Hyatt concierge steers guests away from the place with a frown and a hesitating reply that suggests it’s less than respectable. Ignore her. “Welcome to the last dump in San Diego,” the bartender, Jerry, says as you walk in. Its claim to fame is that it was the location for the “sleazy bar scene” in Top Gun. The place looks like it’s hardly changed in the 20 years since then, although there may be a few more bras hanging from the ceiling fans and there are no doubt more bumper stickers saying things like “I still miss my Ex… but my aim is improving!” While I ate a decent pork sandwich and an overlarge slice of potato pie, Jerry sold three “Top Gun” T-shirts to tourists for $12.97 apiece, including tax. “We still sell a gross and a half to two gross of these every week,” he says. If you ask him, he’ll tell you what the neighborhood was like twenty years ago. The jail was right across the street, next door to the right was a bail bondsman, next door to the left was another bail bondsman, just past that a tailor. A real skid row, down by the docks. How times change. The movie is probably what saved the bar from being forced out of business. Now the KC Barbecue is a lone island of seediness, surrounding by glistening hotel towers and a faked up “seaside village” with the tackiest faux-quaint decor you can imagine. And definitely no bras on the ceiling fans.

[tags]etech, san diego, barbecue, top gun[/tags]