Witt’s is a great example of how an upscale neighborhood bar can be inviting and unpretentious, particularly following its transition to new owership. Aside from its large beer garden and tastefully decorated interior, there is nothing particularly unique about Witt’s. However, the bar consistently draws a good crowd with its laid-back atmosphere and good food, making it one of the best bars in West Lakeview.
Witt’s is unassumingly located at the intersection of Lincoln and George, around the corner from where Thurston’s used to stand (across from the Elbo Room). Witt’s can be spotted with its silver sign aglow in blue neon light, mounted on a well-laid brick façade. French windows open out in summer, offering patrons a nice spot facing a surprisingly quiet section of Lincoln Avenue. Step through the wooden door and you’ll find that the interior of Witt’s is somewhat dark, lit primarily by little white votive candles, artistic track lighting that illuminates local artwork hanging on the exposed brick walls, and a few silent televisions. A polished wooden floor complements the wooden cocktail tables located in the front of the room, as well as along the south wall of the room. The bar lies opposite these tables and curves intriguingly out at the west end, accommodating a second tap and additional seating. While Witt’s consistently draws many patrons, it is never that crowded and there always seems to be a free table or barstool when you come in. The bathrooms are located at the east end of the front room, separated from patrons by a large, triangular metal partition with Witts’ logo cut into it.
Next to the bathrooms, a short and narrow hallway leads to the beer garden through a glass door. This outdoor dining area features several tables and a fully-stocked bar that sports the most taps found in a beer garden in the entire city. The beer garden is enclosed by the brick wall of the building next door and a large wooden fence. In the front corner of the beer garden, a wooden staircase leading to the apartments above that would be the dream of many a college graduate just having moved to the city as it would be less than 15 feet to one of the best beer gardens in the area for them.
Witt’s has a decent selection of beers, including Labatt’s, Boddington’s, Woodchuck Cider, and Stella Artois. For those who are budget-conscious and hungry can head across the street to Muskie’s for a cheap, grease-ball burger. A number of wines by the glass are also available, as is a selection of cocktails, including “The Dirty” (a dirty martini featuring bleu cheese-stuffed olives). For those who are budget-conscious and hungry can head across the street to Muskie’s for a cheap, grease-ball burger. Otherwise, you’ll want to sample one of several 10″ pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and wraps. They also have a good selection of appetizers and desserts to bookend your meal.
Witt’s is a very congenial place for a bit of a chat. As is often the case in social bars, the conversation one night turned to such topics as mooning, getting mugged and urination. The mooning story was rather interesting, as told by my Australian friend. At one point, he and his closest 40 friends all stood in a row and mooned several cars along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. A round of urination stories preceded this tale, prompted by my friend coming back from the bathroom and complaining about stepping in urine on the floor. You see, the wood-paneled bathrooms are unisex at Witt’s and, as guys know, whenever you only have pots in a bathroom (no urinals) and the patrons are getting loaded, there is going to be piss on the floor due to bad aim and double vision. Remember guys: if you see more than one toilet, aim for the middle one. Girls are not aware of this fact of life, because they usually don’t have to deal with guys spraying their facilities.
Anyhow, the pee in question prompted my friends to recollect various occurrences of people observed urinating in closets, drawers, on vehicles, and in their own pants. This latter subject led to my story: I once knew a girl who had a sister a few years older than she. Once the older sister started going to college, the little sister (still in high school) found herself desperately wanting to tag along to parties attended by the older sister. The little sister was always rebuked. However, in the true spirit of sisterhood, the little sister was invited one day to a college party at her older sister’s apartment. This marked the first time ever that the little sister was invited to an evening involving libations with her older sibling. Much alcohol was consumed, and the little sister fell asleep on the couch only to wake up realizing that she had pissed herself in the night. The urine had drenched her pants and soaked all the way through to the sofa cushion (a rather nice sofa cushion, at that). In a panic to hide the unfortunate incident from her sister, and thus preserve her good standing to elicit future party invitations, the younger sister ran into the shower with all of her clothes on – along with the sofa cushion. It was her intent to wash herself, her clothes, and the cushion simultaneously for maximum cover up in minimum time. As she stood in the shower, the water began to pour all over her and the 4-foot long sofa cushion that clutched to her chest. What the little sister hadn’t anticipated in this flawed plan is that the cushion absorbed almost all the water coming out of the showerhead. After a few minutes the sofa had absorbed so much water that it became quite heavy. It was so heavy, that it toppled over, through the shower glass and onto the floor, taking the little sister with her (fortunately the shower glass did not break). At this point, the older sister rushed into the bathroom to see what happened. It was at this very moment that the experiment of inviting the little sister to her parties ended for good. Alas.
Witt’s is a great place to tell stories like this with a date or a group of friends, any night of the week. If the weather is good, be sure to check out the beer garden and relax under the glowing orange sky. Consider Witt’s similar to Tavern 33, only with food and without the big screen. If you like Witt’s, you may also like Jake’s Pub at Clark & Oakdale for an older neighborhood version of Jake’s, formerly under the same ownership. For more information and their menu, check out Witt’s Bar & Grille website. Witt’s, surprisingly, Witt’s.
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Entrance to Australia’s Great Ocean Road as taken by Bob McGann, while lying on his back in the middle of the road without a means to halt oncoming traffic