First Amendment Public House: Good Food & Free Speech in Wooster, Ohio
When our family wants to venture outside of everyday territory for an outing, we love to make a short jaunt to Wooster, Ohio. It’s a surprisingly hip town about 30 minutes west of Canton, surrounded by Ohio’s rolling farmland on all sides (including the ‘gateway’ to Amish Country to the south) and – I’ll be honest – not much else.
Don’t assume, though, that Wooster is just a sleepy rural community (like I did, for far too long) – Wooster has a unique, college-town vibe with a walkable downtown, innovative and interesting restaurants, and abundance of Cool Little Spots. And lord knows I love a Cool Little Spot.
Futureman and I, along with our trio of boys, tried one of these spots last Saturday. We are on a perpetual mission for the dining-out trifecta of great food + craft beers + kid-tolerance. We were excited to stumble upon the new-ish First Amendment Public House in downtown Wooster, which delivered nicely on all three.
Before we get to the food & stuff, however, let’s talk about things that make First Amendment unique. How does the saying go? Don’t discuss politics or religion at the dinner table? First Amendment says ‘thanks, but no thanks” to that idea, building their restaurant identity, in part, on informed discourse. Once a month, they host a ‘civil discussion’ at the restaurant where patrons can debate a hot local or national topic (this month happened to be Marriage Equality) with only two rules: 1) don’t attack another person, and 2) add constructively to the convo. As a Poli Sci major, this gets me pretty excited. I love a good debate AND good food. Together? Even better.
However, if politics isn’t your bag, you’ll be happy to know First Amendment is simply a low-key, friendly place to grab good pub fare and a pint – with or without kids, and definitely without breaking the bank.
Their menu revolves largely around sammies, including their 14-hour slow-roasted pulled pork and three-meat (brisket, short rib, chuck) burgers. I had the pulled pork with mustard and peach jam on a pretzel bun with a side of cilantro-jalapeno slaw; Futureman had the Rotunda burger cooked medium-rare, also with the slaw. Both were delicious, and we couldn’t decide which one we liked better. Add a couple of beers from their well ‘crafted’ menu (written on a chalkboard, with the ABV listed), and we were very happy citizens. Our server even offered a sampling of three IPAs on draft so I could make an informed decision. How’s that for democracy? The kids liked it, too – as soon as they saw tater tots on the menu they were S-O-L-D.
Other things worth mentioning:
- Our server took our order and displayed pics of the two specials via iPad. Major points for using technology in a useful and appealing way.
- They have live music on most weekends and a cozy bar if you’d rather skip the grub.
- It’s a true ‘public house’ – a bar along with tables (but not too many) in a long narrow space, with a odd ‘hip’ factor that comes without much obvious effort. I assure you there is zero Americana, country-wicker decor. We appreciated that.
- The staff is very inviting, but not the least bit overbearing. Also appreciated.
- They DO have one very lonnnnggggg red wall, and I’d be happy to offer up my ideas on what to put on that long red wall, should they ever read this and ask.
Next up is another Wooster favorite: Spoon Market, just around the corner from First Amendment, and a local gem for stocking up on artisan meats, cheeses, craft beers, Jeni’s ice cream, and lots more. YUM.
Cover photo credit: First Amendment Public House