Daydrinking at Wilton House
All of my dreams just came true.
The last time I wanted to grab a beer at Wilton House, my friend and I peered inside and saw that the place was empty, save for one homeless-looking man swigging whiskey. We quickly ran away. It’s a bar that’s never really popping off, and yet has been in business for the last 3,000 years (well, it seems so anyway). Secretly, deep in my heart, I long to be a regular at Wilton House, drinking cold, cheap beer and talking smack about Hoboken politics. But I guess I am too young for that just yet…
Anyway, this weekend, a different friend and I were strolling about town, looking for a place to grab a cheap brew and hang out. It was a Sunday, so most of the bars were packed with Jets fans watching the game. Not wanting to deal with all of that, we were on the lookout for someplace quieter, more low-key… Oh my god, I thought to myself, This is finally my chance to sidle up to the bar at Wilton House and live out my drunk old man dreams.
Under the guise of two crazy kids just looking for a place to chill and watch the game (we both know nothing about football), we took our seats at the bar and ordered two Pabst cans ($3 each). Everyone else at the bar was indeed old and grizzled, shouting at the television. One guy down at the other end of the bar had no teeth. Alright, he had two teeth.
The bartender tells us to help ourselves to some hot dogs, so we turn around, and there is a table laid out with free food. This place is the best! Or, well, it would be the best if the table was filled with hummus or something, as my friend and I are total hippie vegetarians.
The deal for the day was $2 drafts of Coors Light. Your other draft choices are Budweiser and Yuengling, so deal with it. There’s no menu, no cutesy little chalkboard detailing the days special cocktails. If it’s behind the bar, they’ll pour you a glass of it. One guy did order a Grey Goose on the rocks, which came in some sort of fancy chalice thing. Wilton House is a crazy place.
The jukebox was one of those electronic ones with every song in the world programmed into it, so the tunes were a mix of Sublime, Radiohead, 311 and… wait a minute, a Kanye song? The patrons were too engrossed in the Jets game to pay much attention, but I did overhear one guy singing along to the Radiohead song.
The décor is… simple. This is to say that save for a few autumn wreaths hanging on the walls, there was no décor. Just bare wood walls and a mirror behind the bar. One thing that I have to give Wilton House major props for is that it was remarkably clean. Maybe it’s because the bar is so brightly lit that there’s no room for a hint of debris, but I remember thinking, “I could totally eat off of this bar.”
Anyway, I don’t know where else to put this but at one point, I overheard someone say, “We didn’t eat the cat, we put him to sleep!” and I laughed so hard I almost spit out my beer. So yeah, Wilton House.
For a party destination, the bar would get zero frosty mugs, but for a cheap and relaxed place to enjoy Hoboken’s best characters, I’ll give Wilton House a solid eight. There is literally no place like it in town, unless you count Mario’s Tavern, which I don’t, because I have thusfar been too nervous to walk in alone. It looks so dark! But Wilton’s is a place that will welcome you even if you haven’t lived in town for 50 years, where the bartender will slap a cold can of beer on the bar and tell you to help yourself to some hot dogs.
Wilton House, 58 Newark St; (201) 656-9635.