The Wit's End 420 Robinson Ave. 619-294-4848
As we all know, San Diego's a pretty conservative town-at least that's the myth-which sucks for liberals, especially when subjected to public displays of fist-pumping “Go U.S.A.” loudmouthery. Luckily for me, I stumbled upon a cool little Hillcrest hole-in-the-wall with a killer beer selection, tasty food and a hardcore crowd of left-leaning Daily Show devotees. It gave me a great place to watch the presidential debates. Neil Wasserman, proprietor of The Wit's End, was a bit taken aback at just how much of a crowd he drew.
“I was surprised. But, actually, I was and I wasn't,” Wasserman elaborated, “because we have a pretty big following of people who like The Daily Show, which we show religiously at 8 o'clock and 10 o'clock. So you know these people are kind of into the whole thing somewhat, so I kinda figured they'd be interested in it, but I didn't know it'd be packed wall-to-wall.”
The Wit's End is a small pub/café in a Hillcrest strip mall, across from Crest Cafe, that serves up simple yet well-prepared fare at a very reasonable price. While the menu is certainly not trailblazing, the food is good enough that Wasserman is routinely feeding employees of such notable Hillcrest eateries as La Vache, Region and Hash House a Go Go. The Wit's End also boasts a selection of 100 beers from around the world, board games, an Xbox and digital satellite TV, with wireless Internet access coming soon. In short, it's a cool place to hang out, grab a bite, have a beer and be entertained-without being rushed out the door to make way for the next party. All of which will make The Wit's End an excellent place to hang out come Election Night.
“We've been so packed for the debates, that we figure we should probably do something for the election,” Wasserman explained. “We'll have some ‘I Voted' specials if you bring in your sticker... and, you know, just have some goofball specials related to each candidate.”
Focusing on basic fare like sandwiches, salads and soups, one thing that differentiates The Wit's End is that Wasserman prepares everything he serves from scratch, including excellent salad dressings, meatloaf and old-fashioned pot roast, as well as chicken salad, egg salad made to order, barbecued beef with homemade sauce and an excellent chicken pesto. The sandwiches come with your choice of potato salad or green salad-the green salad's actually worth eating, made with mixed field greens and chopped fresh vegetables. The daily soup specials are also outstanding, and Wasserman has recently added omelets to the mix. The burners are set up right out front on the counter, so you can watch your meal being prepared every step of the way-part of what makes The Wit's End so homey and comfortable. Add in the early showing of The Daily Show, and you can see why the place is popular with the political crowd.
“It's a little more liberal-leaning, but it's also people who aren't really interested in the parties, per se,” Wasserman said. “They're more like it should all be independent.... I mean, they're a little more liberal-leaning in just the way they are. They're not necessarily leaning towards the liberal candidate-they see the faults of both sides, the problems of both sides, the problems of the parties, so it's actually a pretty smart group. It's not just, ‘Go left,' or ‘Go right,' there's some thought put into everyone's comments on everything.”
Not solely focused on the national election, Wasserman is also a close follower of local politics. “Donna Frye happens to be my councilperson,” he said, “and I can tell you that I will write-in Donna Frye, just out of sheer disgust with the way the city's run, and out of disgust with the whole political system. If there's someone out there who can get in as a write-in candidate, more power to 'em. I watch the City Council channel on TV. I suggest anybody spend some time watching that-you'll really get disheartened, and you'll want to see a little bit of a change. You'll want to see a lot of a change.”
As for Wasserman's feeling about the presidential election, it's about the same as many folks I know: “My feeling is that if these two guys are the best that we have to put up, we're in bigger trouble than the trouble we're already in.” Whatever the outcome of the election, and your political leanings, The Wit's End has plenty of beer on hand to numb the pain.