After nine years in the Gaslamp, The Hopping Pig will pivot from a gastropub into Metl, an upscale dive bar and eatery with a live music component. Its next chapter is being ushered in by longtime general manager Jenna Elskamp, who will now have equal partnership with owner Djani Ivanov.
Elskamp will operate the new venue with her husband Randy, a well-known veteran bartender and brand ambassador for Ilegal Mezcal who will be stepping away from his role at beloved industry hangout Cantina Mayahuel to help run the front of house. The couple has been looking for an opportunity to do their own bar, even seriously considering a spot in North Park, but ultimately chose to remain downtown to draw in both locals and tourists. San Diego’s first outlet of the AC Hotels by Marriott brand, which is geared towards a younger demographic, is currently under construction across from the Fifth Avenue bar where it replaces T.G.I. Friday’s and McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon.
The Hopping Pig will be closing in early November for a quick, week-long refresh and should reopen by the middle of the month. Among the upgrades is a newly-built stage that will regularly host all genres of rock music.
Named after the Aztec word for the agave plant, Metl will highlight tequila and mezcal but the menu won’t be limited to just agave spirits. Whiskey will also feature prominently on the cocktail list, which will be split between house cocktails and a rotating roster of drinks contributed by the Elskamp’s industry friends. There will be daily lunch specials, a competitive happy hour, and a new menu of comfort food that includes Randy’s Famous Chicken Salad, a Flaming Hot Cheetos turkey burger, a shrimp elote bowl with grilled shrimp and corn, cauliflower-stuffed shells with artichoke, sundried tomato, mushrooms, and basil cream, and a homemade peanut butter and chocolate pie, with mezcal peanut butter cup ice cream and peanut butter pretzels.