Sports-bar-type establishments are generally good for a greasy burger, a plethora of unimaginative fried foods, and big, cheap, cold beers. They're great for game day, but they're not at the top of my list on the culinary side of things.
However, Diablos Sports Bar and Grill (occupying the spot at Craycroft and Golf Links roads that used to be the Post Time Bar and Grill) is bucking the greasy-burger sports-bar trend with inexpensive, spicy food and a clean, modern atmosphere.
Though there are more than 20 TVs within viewing range of the dining area (and there are even TVs in the bathrooms so you won't miss a second of that all-important game), Diablos manages a bright, sleek look—a welcome departure from the usual dark, dingy bar atmosphere. The servers are all friendly and attentive, and they have a nice DJ setup for their Sunday-night karaoke and Saturday-night dance events.
It was relatively quiet on both of our visits, with a mix of families, couples and a few barflies. There is a decent selection of beer on tap to quench your thirst while you're watching the game, but they're mostly domestic brews. A little microbrewery action or some local beers would be a nice touch.
The wings ($4.95 for six, $7.95 for 12, or $13.95 for 24) are not for the weak-of-stomach at Diablos. With four levels of spiciness ranging from mild to inferno, along with some creative saucing options (BBQ, spicy BBQ, honey mustard, lemon pepper, etc.), there's something for everyone—even those who enjoy a little bit of searing pain with their meal. We stuck with the honey mustard and the hot (second-mildest on the Diablos' hotness scale), and we were not disappointed. They came out well-sauced and fried crisp; the honey mustard was sweet and a little tangy, and the hot wings had just enough spice to make me eat them in quick succession to avoid that mouth after-burn. A few tables over, someone must have ordered either the diablo (habañero wings) or the inferno ("2x habañero," as it says on the menu); my eyes were watering just from the smell of the spicy sauce as our server walked by.
Diablos specializes in kicking it up a notch or two with their bar fare as well, with an assortment of Scoville-unit-happy appetizers and entrées, including jalapeño bottle caps (sliced, fried jalapeños), jalapeno poppers and devil's tails, which are green chile strips sliced, battered and fried (all $6.95).
I decided on the spicy chicken sandwich for an entrée ($8.95), and Ted went for the Diablo cheeseburger ($8.95). The chicken sandwich was not greasy at all, even though it was a breaded, deep-fried chicken breast with pepperjack cheese and "spicy Diablo sauce." However, it was indeed spicy. I'm not a fan of shredded lettuce on my sandwiches, but at least the greens were fresh and crisp, and helped to cool the burn a little. Ted's cheeseburger was so spicy that he ended up disassembling it and removing about half of the raw jalapeño slices after a few bites, but he said that the flavors were nice, and the burger was cooked to order.
On our second visit, we tried out the appetizer sampler plate ($11.95 for any four items on the appetizer list) with the jalapeño poppers, devil's tails, potato skins and onion rings. Nothing was too greasy or over-fried, and the portions were generous. The devil's tails were my favorite, with a mild heat and a peppery, flavorful batter, but the potato skins were a close second: They had just the right ratio of potato to topping.
After noshing on the appetizer platter, we barely had room for entrées, but my spicy diablo salad ($8.95)—with a spicy fried chicken breast, ripe tomato slices, a sprinkling of cheddar and lots of crisp romaine lettuce—made for a nice, cool summer meal. Ted's Philly cheesesteak ($7.95) was piping-hot and had great flavor, but could have used a little more provolone.
Although a lot of the menu is pretty standard bar fare, the "diablo" is in the details (and apparently in the sauce, too)—and Diablos Sports Bar and Grill does it well.