Shhhh. . .That means I am going to tell you a secret. Get ready. Here it is. Shhots, 2026 Teall Ave. (399-5700), is a bar, but it’s not the bar that stood in its place since the 1960s. The Poorhouse East is now just a rusty sign, framed on the wall, with nothing else left of it but the tile floor. Everything else has been cleaned, opened, gutted and lightened-up.
What struck me initially is that this place sure doesn’t smell like decades of beer and smoke and I don’t know what else. Nope, this place smells clean and fresh and pointed in a new direction.
Opened in 2009 by owner Chuck Cavallaro, Shhots is striving to be your neighborhood bar and more. They feature 12 different beers on tap, bar food, television and darts, as you would expect. So I stopped in for a weekday lunch with my husband, to sample what Shhots has to offer that you might not expect.
Lunches for $5. Who expects that? Shhots offers five meals, daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., for $5. They include an Italian meatball sandwich smothered in sauce, parmesan and mozzarella on an 8-inch sub roll with a side; a half-pound of Southern-style chicken tenders with your choice of a dipping sauce and a side; 10 chicken wings cooked the way you want them; a turkey sandwich made with a half-pound of turkey breast; or half-pound of turkey or roast beef over bread with french fries and hot gravy.
Additional sides of macaroni salad, coleslaw, potato salad or french fries are only $1. We tried the meatball sandwich—tasty, hot and cheesy enough to hold you for the rest of the afternoon at a bargain price. The $5 deals are available for eat-in or takeout.
We also tried the wings, which can be ordered plain (why?), mild, medium or hot Buffalo-style, garlic or barbecue. You can get them extra-crispy or grilled. These were solid examples of the classic, tasty morsel. Being lovers of all things seafood, we tried the fried calamari and got ourselves some steamers, too. The calamari is cut right at the restaurant and came out hot and chewy. The steamers were sweet and served with plenty of drawn butter.
Other offerings from the pub menu include deli sandwiches, half-pound burgers, cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers, pizza, onion rings, jalapeno poppers and what Cavallaro described as truly giant fried clam strips. He’ll make a salad for you and in the winter, he serves soup. We were told their New England clam chowder is very popular with the regulars.
Stop in on Fridays for their haddock sandwich, fried up by cook John Pennisi, of the long-ago Pennisi family fish stores. John adds Zatarain’s seasoning to the coating for a little zip-a-dee-doo before he fries it in canola oil.
Now if you are a pilot, or like planes, or flying, or talking about
flying, you have to stop in. A pilot for 35 years, Cavallaro owns seven
planes with names like Termite, Esprit and Lancair. He can regale you
with many a flying story, including his Doberman hitting up rich people
for snacks inside their jets while he sweltered on the tarmac looking
for the dog.
And if you like Syracuse University sports, you have to stop in. All the games will be on, with drink and food specials offered during each game.
In August, Shhots will host a high school reunion with the group taking over the pub and bringing in their own band. It’s available for private parties like that, just ask. And that’s no secret.