Grumpy’s has a dozen televisions overhead, 100 different kinds of beer and 26 ways to flavor Buffalo wings. Its burgers weigh a half-pound and its sandwiches are huge.
Get the picture? The setting, the menu and the attitude say “sports bar.” It’s an Aiken favorite – a happy place where people come to socialize and root for athletes they love.
For some customers, visiting Grumpy’s is all about the beer – foreign and local, on tap, in bottles and in cans. An adventurous cerevisaphile could sip different brews all day and still leave dozens of interesting ones unsampled.
Beyond lagers, ales, porters and stouts, Grumpy’s food menu is a happy hunting ground for robust appetites in search of pub fare. That means cardboard and plastic baskets (not china plates) holding such over-the-top things as a “Bbbblt Sandwich” that promises six pieces of hickory-smoked bacon and a “Mutha of All Grilled Cheeses” loaded with up to eight different kinds of cheese.
Appetizers include double IPA cheese dip and broad plates of full-dress nachos on made-to-order tortilla chips. The menu boasts that Grumpy’s fried pickles are “the thickest and stiffest.”
Burgers are brawny dreamboats, made better by the buttery luxury of the grilled roll in which they are served. Available toppings include a wide choice of cheeses (beer cheese among them), chili and bacon. A “Smack Yo Mama” patty melt sandwiches the burger, two kinds of molten cheese and caramelized onions between thick slices of grilled bread.
A quarter-pound hot dog is listed on the menu as the “best ever.” As a devotee of encased meat, I suppose I could debate that claim, measuring Grumpy’s wiener against a Chicago red hot, a Rochester white hot, a Motor City Coney Island or a scrambled dog from Dinglewood Pharmacy in Columbus, Georgia. But the fact is that this oversized, natural-casing, all-beef frankfurter, grilled to a light char and planted in an heroic bun, really is one of the best. When teeth sever its skin, it erupts with juice. The flavor is big enough that no array of condiments and garnishes can eclipse it.
Among side dishes, French fries are thick-cut, skin-on heavyweights. Pub chips straddle a line between floppy and crisp. Tater tots are not listed on the menu, but they’re the best of the fried sides, their well-seasoned, crunchy surface enclosing a creamy lode of potato shreds.
Just about anything fried is good – wings especially, which also are available boneless. Beer-battered fish & chips is a massive meal.
Those who abjure fried food can fork into a salad of smoked pulled chicken, cheddar and gouda cheeses and vegetables galore, topped by blue cheese dressing with a barbecue-flavored twist. The Cronovan is a sandwich variation of the chicken and cheese mix on sourdough. Other sandwich highlights are a Guinness-seasoned Reuben and a Philly steak made with either shaved beef or chicken.
Even ascetics may find happiness in this accommodating sports bar by eating a garden salad that contains no meat and nothing fried and knocking back a bottle of nearly alcohol-free O’Doul’s.
Grumpy’s: 216 E. Gate Dr., Aiken, S.C. 803-226-9868. https://www.grumpyssportspub.com