Food

The Early Word: Pop Pub

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Pop Burger, the mini-chain that helped make mini-burgers a big hit, has sort of grown up, turning the focus of its newest spot, Pop Pub (83 University Place, 212-477-7574), onto beer. We stopped by one afternoon last week to check out the burgers and brews.

The space is cavernous and has a sort of Midwestern strip-mall feel, but not in a cheesy way. In fact, it’s a kind of refreshing change from the glitzy, buzzy joints around the city. Sometimes you just want good ole middlebrow fare. Popcorn shrimp ($8), for example.

Are these shrimp fancy? No. Are they delicious? Not really. But they are fried and have that artificial-tasting batter that you love to hate but love to love even more. They came with a sprinkling of cheese, which seemed superfluous at first, but then again, why not cover fried shrimp in cheese. Go big or go home!

Given that it’s part of the Pop Burger brand, we obviously had to get the Pop burgers, which are essentially two cheeseburger sliders with lettuce and tomato. Perfectly decent, though nothing totally exceptional. In truth, you’ll want to come here more to drink than to eat. The beers on tap feature both homegrown favorites and more mass-market offerings: Coney Island Mermaid, Amstel Light, PBR, Sixpoint Righteous Rye, Guinness, Bass, Southampton IPA, Pilsner Urquell, Stella Artois, Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog in Heat Wheat, Red Tall Ale, Paulaner Hefeweizen, and Brooklyn Lager. Twenty-seven other beers are available by the bottle, ranging from Arrogant Bastard Ale to Samuel Smith Russian Stout to St. Louis Framboise, all ranging from about $5 to $20. Basically, something for everyone’s budget and palate, ensuring a good time for all.

Large booths in the back, bar stools in the middle, and comfy chairs in the front ensure that there’s ample room, and many people were reading and studying when we dropped by midday. So if you’re seeking some pretty decent brews, plus a lack of pretension, and some un-fancified bar snacks, look no further.

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