Joe Jost’s is one of the last pre-war drinking holes in the United States. There are other bars that are older, but few still serve the same old-time drinking fare that boozers were scarfing during the Coolidge administration. The inside of Joe Jost’s is somewhere between a sports bar and a billiard hall. It boasts a wall-of-fame featuring nearly a century of eccentric customers. Opposite that is the collection of local calendar girls that date back to the ‘fifties. Other evidence of Joe Jost’s past as a gentleman’s saloon includes a once-functional barber chair and a urinal trough in the men’s room.
The most famous dish is pickled eggs. It doesn’t get much simpler than that: a hard-boiled egg preserved in vinegar, salt and a secret blend of spices. They are mild eggs, not overpoweringly spiced or vinegary — good for first timers nervous about eating something potentially sulfuric and briny. They come over pretzel sticks with a spoonful of the sport peppers that share jar space with the eggs. The eggs are finished with a crack of black pepper. The secret spice blend is so popular that they sell it for home preservers. Just add cider vinegar.
Our personal favorite snack is the Joe’s Special — a split Polish sausage with a salt-brined gherkin wedged in the two halves. It’s covered with white American cheese and mustard and stuffed between two pieces of soft, cornmeal dusted caraway-seed rye. The package evokes Chicago’s Polish lunch counters. Also available on the great rye bread are cotto salami and liverwurst.
Many insist that the thing to get on rye at Joe Jost’s is egg salad. It is made with the famous pickled eggs, creating a rich, tangy glop. We recommend adding red onions to give it some crunch and vitamins. There is no lettuce on premises. Joe’s is pretty much a vegetable-free zone. Besides man-cave sandwiches and jars of golden eggs, Joe’s also serves house-roasted Virginia peanuts in the shell. They are dubbed “Marmion’s peanuts” for the family that had been roasting them in Long Beach since the 19th century. The bar bought the family’s roaster to keep the Marmion name alive, and to keep the aromatic peanuts coming.
The popular drink at Joe Jost’s is ice cold beer in a giant schooner mug. The place prides itself on the chill of the beer and the cup, and you likely will find little ice sheets floating on top of your brew. If you’re about to hit the road, there’s also draft root beer in a frosty mug. It’s good stuff, brewed up by the lauded sodasmiths at the Inyokern Brewery.