If you’re still searching for your “Cheers” – a local sports-themed restaurant/bar with friendly & attentive staff, a warm & classy atmosphere, great food at reasonable prices, and a place where “everyone knows your name,” look no further. Spelly’s Pub & Grille (formerly Indigo Joe’s) has just landed in the Temecula area and owner Joe Spellman wants you to feel as though his place is your place as well. I think he may very well succeed.
It definitely has a Boston sports theme, but Spelly’s doesn’t come across as a Red Sox/Celtic/Bruins/Patriots bar. Instead, there’s a warm friendliness that’s tangible – I could be wrong, but I get the impression that even Yankee fans may be welcome here. Well, maybe. With its forest green walls and cherry wood paneling, Spelly’s has the look of an upscale “sports club” restaurant found in Staples Center or Angels Stadium – definitely a place you can bring your girlfriend or wife and not have to apologize. A dive bar it isn’t. Nor is it a place where short skirts and push-up bras are the norm for the wait staff. Rather, the uniform for the staff is beige shorts and baseball-style t-shirts. Simple, pleasing to the eye, and family-friendly. Add their 12 beers on tap, real dartboards, and a classic jukebox playing Skynyrd, Clapton, the Clash, Cheap Trick, the Stones, etc. (no Katy Perry or Jonas Bros. options here), and you may indeed have found your new favorite place.
Spelly’s was designed as a restaurant that just happens to serve sports (they have 27 HD TVs so you won’t miss any of the action) rather than a sports bar that just happens to serve food. There definitely can be a distinction, as many of you sports bar fans can attest. Is there anything worse than gathering friends at a local watering hole to check out the Chargers or Angels and being served frozen food disguised as something worth $15 a plate? It’s disappointing, isn’t it? Not at Spelly’s – the food is the priority here. Everything is freshly prepared, from their candied walnuts (baked each day) to their amazing onion rings to their certified Angus beef. Don’t look for frozen mozzarella sticks or canned fruit and veggies at Spelly’s – they’re not on the menu. Nor are ridiculously high prices – Joe has crafted a menu where the most expensive entree is just $20.95 (Grilled Ribeye steak) and the appetizers begin at $4.95. The majority of the menu falls in the $8.95-$11.95 range. Affordable, even in today’s struggling economy.
Spelly’s motto is “Go Big or Go Home” and when referencing their food, they’re not kidding. The portions are huge! Their burgers are a perfect example. Found under the menu heading of “Monstahs” (“Burgers as big as Fenway’s Green Monster”), each hamburger is a 10oz patty of Angus Beef cooked to order. I tried the “Joe’s Favorite” which includes three slabs of bacon as well as Bleu Cheese crumbles and dressing drenched on top of the cooked-just-above-rare burger. What a juicy, tender, flavorful, mouth-watering experience. I recommend adding their onion rings (big, seasoned, not too greasy) as a side. Heaven.
The Reuben (lean corned beef/sauerkraut/Swiss cheese/1000 Island dressing on rye) and the Clubhouse sandwich (turkey/ham/Swiss cheese/lettuce/tomato on sourdough) both included monstrous amounts of meat in between the bread slices. Just a half of the Clubhouse almost equals a full-portioned club sandwich at any other restaurant. And their Pulled Pork sandwich…wow! For those who love bbq, this one’s for you. Slow cooked, fall-off-the-bone pork drenched with Baby Rays Sauce on a slightly toasted bun with mac & cheese on the side – southern cooking at its finest.
For those who are a bit more calorie-conscious, Spelly’s does have a lovely Portabella Mushroom burger, four different salads to choose from (I recommend the Spinach Salad with dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and raspberry vinaigrette – look under “The Gahden Spot” on the menu), and a fantastic Grilled Salmon topped with pineapple chutney. I can’t say these dishes are “low-calorie,” but they are definitely on the lighter side of things compared to the meat and pasta options. Joe knows his food and takes it seriously – he doesn’t scrimp on ingredients or flavor. You’ll taste the difference in every bite.
Stop in to grab a beer, watch your favorite team on TV, and feast on an incredible array of fresh food at Spelly’s, located at 40675 Murrieta Hot Springs Road, Murrieta, CA 92562. It’s right next to Ravioli’s and Richie’s Real American Diner in the mini-mall between the 15 and the 215 freeways. 951-696-2211.
All photos by Loren Scott.