Taking advantage of the warm weather, I grabbed my best friend and we drove down to the corner of Chittenden and Summit. Right next to Dada Empanadas sat what upon first glance seemed to be an empty restaurant lot. After looking at it for a minute, I recognized the giant Tuna mural inside the bar. I was excited. I remember spending late nights at the Ugly Tuna Saloona at Gateway (RIP), eating wings and drinking fishbowls with my friends. When I opened the door to the lot, cool air hit me instantaneously. Ugly Tuna 2 very much captures the essence of its antecedent. They even brought back the artwork from the original restaurant, still sporting signatures of students from years prior.
The bar was empty, save for a few patrons sitting in a corner and a couple sitting outside. I went over to the bar to order and found that they were offering a limited menu. The bartender explained that there was a rush to make sure the Tuna was operational for Senior Crawl, so they were still working out some kinks. They expect to start offering the full menu in the fall. As such, the current menu offered five items: the Ugly Burger, Hot Pepper Cheese Cubes, the Angus Foot Long, Jumbo Shrimp, and Pretzel Bites. Like the good reviewer I am, I ordered half of the items in the menu: the angus foot long, the pretzel bites, and the cheese cubes.
The food came out very quickly and both appetizers were warm and delicious. The cubes had a nice kick to them, they were almost like cheese poppers, served with a side of marinara. A bit on the small side but overall tasty. Next up were the pretzel bites. Soft and warm on the inside, a bit harder on the outside, these guys were just like any good pretzel ought to be. They were served with a side of mustard. As menu items, both appetizers were very much what you would expect to get at a bar.
Now, what I was NOT prepared for was the big boy. Angus. Foot. Long. Y’all… I’m not going to lie. I did not expect a giant frank. The menu said the foot long came with ketchup and mustard and a side of chips. My five-dollar-footlong-eating ass was expecting a sandwich. I WAS NOT PREPARED TO EAT A GIANT HOT DOG.
I swear on Brutus Buckeye’s little hat, when the bartender put the footlong down there was a moment of silence at my table. It was huge! I said a quick prayer and bit into it. I’m pretty sure I passed out for a minute after eating that frank. It was delicious. The frank itself was crunchy on the outside, but it was still moist on the inside. The bun it was served on was steamed and soft. The only thing I was sad about was that it was only served with ketchup and mustard; this thing could carry a few generous toppings. As it stands, it was a classic menu item, but it was delicious.
I’m excited to follow what happens with the Ugly Tuna 2, especially after students re-populate Chittenden and the fall semester rears its head. I got a chance to see the intended full menu and I cannot wait to get some Nasty Chicken Traditional Wings or try the Nasty Pizza Sampler. If all else fails, there’s always the fishbowl, which I will neither confirm nor deny I’ve drank by myself in the past. •
Photo by Amal Saeed.