Bar food is an oft-overlooked part of the foodie world. Pub bites are frequently deemed unsophisticated and unworthy of critique. It’s true, a run-of-the-mill plate of loaded potato skins or fried mozzarella sticks isn’t so much culinary masterpiece as it is a crude means to bringing down one’s blood alcohol content.

Still, a new San Jose establishment, Funny Farm, is trying to elevate bar food by serving up eats that are actually palatable—even to the designated driver.

Located inside the Sideline Sports Bar at the Santa Teresa Village Shopping Center, the Funny Farm has found a perfect home. This dimly lit dive bar draws plenty of thirsty locals—even on a Monday afternoon. Their menu strays toward prototypical American diner, but with fun and inventive twists. The man behind the madness is chef Ron Levi, who probably didn’t listen much to his mother when she told him to stop playing with his food.

The menu is relatively straightforward, but one really has to pay attention to the descriptions. After much debate, we ordered up the cowboy burger ($14.64) with a fried egg ($1.83), loaded tots ($6.41), poutine fries ($9.15) with added short rib meat (1.83) and the Frenchie ($10.98). Evidently, if patrons are looking for drinks they have to saunter over to the bar, as Funny Farm is not allowed to sell beverages of any kind.

Their cowboy burger’s Angus patty comes topped with pulled pork, and an onion ring, and is served on a brioche bun. The burger was above average, but the beef was a bit dry, and the pork didn’t really bring much to the game. The egg was very disappointing—it was overdone. The brioche bun, however, was terrific. The Frenchie is fried chicken topped with Swiss cheese and Black Forest ham. This too was very bland and a touch salty. Again, the brioche roll was the lone saving grace.

The fully loaded tots come topped with cheese, bacon, sour cream and scallions and really lived up to their name. I’m a bit of a tot fanatic, and these delightful nuggests were just the kind of elevated bar food I was hoping to find.

The real reason I wanted to visit Funny Farm was to try their poutine fries. It’s nearly impossible to find legit poutine here in the South Bay. And by legit, I mean actual cheese curds, and not some other bastardized variation. Funny Farm’s poutine fries were spot on, as they use steak fries and drown them in a delightful beef gravy with oodles of curds. The short rib meat was good, but not necessary. My one complaint is that the gravy could’ve been thicker; otherwise, it was nearly perfect.

Bar food will never be elevated to the status of haute cuisine, but it will always have a place in my heart. At least, that’s what my cardiologist told me.

The Funny Farm
7028 Santa Teresa Blvd, San Jose