Who can fuck up driving directions from Vegas? This guy. So, after an eight-hour trek from the desert to the sea this past weekend, it was with the gusto of an Amish teen on his first day of Rumspringa that I explored the wonder that is Escondido.
Also known as North County's armpit, Esco—as we cool kids call it—hosts a number of unique watering holes, but none more interesting than the no-apostrophe-needed Pounders Sports Pub (125 W. Grand Ave.), home of a recent drug raid.
Holding the distinction of being the northeastern-most dive in San Diego County (a statement that, given my lackluster sense of direction, is most likely false), irony here is checked at the door. The locale's trademark scent—a mix of Drakkar Noir and day-old puke crust—can be smelled from Interstate 15. Those cobwebs above the bar? Perhaps they were left over from Halloween; perhaps they're real. An array of stuffed and mounted trophies happily comingles with a Zima neon sign, providing the haunt's décor. The Dr. Oz Show was playing on TV screens in a loop, and the fact that the good doctor was wearing Shape-Ups sneakers and dancing Zumba with his live studio audience would be an adequate cherry on top; the fact that the program was set to mute and had the joint's all-Lifehouse-all-the-time juke providing the soundtrack was the cherry, the banana and the chocolate drizzle.
“You wanna see the best bar trick ever?” asked Mark, a seasoned patron seated to my right. It consisted of balancing a quarter on the rim of a shot glass, placing it atop a dollar bill, and rolling the Washington up without ever dropping the coin.
“You gotta do slow and steady, like when you're rolling a j,” he added, failing time and time again. “Balls!” he slurred. “I'm gonna have to give you a rain check.”
Later, the bargoer shared that he'd learned the trick while working as a carny in the 1980s and that it had made him a small fortune. “How else do you think I could afford this windbreaker?” he grunted, as his buddy, a 50-something beer-belied lush—topless except for a neon safety vest—nodded away.
As for the watering hole's name?
“It started off as a nickname, and it stuck. It's a real fun story,” Mark reminisced. turns out, it's a favorite in the biker scene. “If you don't ride a Harley, chances are you'll get the shit pounded out of you.”
Slowly, I backed away from the bar and made a run toward my rented Chevy Aveo. Now, I've never been one to pass up a good Monday-night pounding. This time, however, a rain check will do.