The Watering Hole: LTD Bar and Grill, 309 N. 36th St., 632-7876, FREMONT
The Atmosphere: LTD stands alone in a steel building just off Fremont's main drag. Its sporty, minimalist, industrial interior is cut only by a mysterious mounted boar's head, tucked in a back corner. The rest is mostly sleek chairs and tables. Wall space is filled in by plentiful windows and 11 flat-screen TVs, showing sports by customer request, first come, first served.
LTD obviously caters toward sports enthusiasts, but they're open-minded enough for those just needing a casual drink. Their decor is not clogged with 12th Man or 3attle business; if you just want a drink, you're not going to feel out of place. This makes it a nice neighbor to the goldfish-racing, snow-sports-themed joint Woodsky's next door.
The bottom line is that if you need to just be somewhere, LTD is a really easy place to do it. Fixtures include Big Buck Hunter (of course), shuffleboard, and pool, and a sizable deck attracts a lot of early-afternoon drinkers during warmer weather. Tater tots are readily available.
The Barkeep: Josh Baymiller is celebrating his second anniversary at LTD this month, meaning he's been there since its inception. He fits in well: Laid-back and friendly but of few words, in a cotton plaid shirt and a baseball cap, he looks like he was installed there as someone to watch a game with. As a respectable late-afternoon gathering watches a few different sporting events, Josh checks some scores—presumably for games they're not currently showing—on a laptop.
This is a Monday; obviously, it's a more relaxed night. Josh says weeknights tend to be all neighborhood and industry folk: "I like that I can actually talk to people," he says. The shuffleboard in particular, he says, brings in a lot of different types. But he also works weekends, when "mainly college kids" and recent graduates from the surrounding area bring more of a party. "I like both," he says, "It's just different."
On these laid-back weeknights, depending on who last took over the jukebox, you can hear Snoop Dogg or Neutral Milk Hotel playing—which speaks to the versatility of both bar and bartender.
The Drink: Josh hesitates before telling me that he normally drinks a shot of Jägermeister and a High Life. "It's cheap, it's easy, it's straightforward," he explains, "I don't like fuzzy cocktails." (He doesn't like making fuzzy cocktails either.) At LTD, he says, "most people order beers, shots, and basic cocktails" like wells and calls anyway. The Jäger goes down . . . well, easily if you like Jäger and horribly if you don't, but either way the bottle of High Life is crisp enough to cut through the saccharine sludge after a few sips, so you're not left with that film on your tongue.
The Verdict: A 20-something at a sports bar in Fremont chasing a shot of Jäger with a High Life? I fit right in. It's nothing special, but when you're just looking to kick back, watch a game, party, and bullshit, it gets the job done.