The downtown restaurant has the best sandwich in town but the quality and service is inconsistent.
The service at the Watering Hole almost always is average. But if you know that going in, you won't be disappointed. For years I have frequented the Watering Hole's downtown restaurant, although my business has tapered off there lately. The food, not the service, is what drew me in to the restaurant.
Speaking of food, my all-time favorite sandwich in Lincoln is the Watering Hole's Swiss Mushroom Chicken Sandwich. This comes with a helping of the restaurant's secret mayo on the side. This ingredient is the crowning touch. Without the mayo, the sandwich is simply OK.
My complaint with the Watering Hole is that their service is sub-par and the consistency of the quality of their food varies. Sometimes the buns are toasted, sometimes they are not. Sometimes the chicken is fatty, sometimes it is not.
The Watering Hole recently expanded and now has a restaurant, The Watering Hole West, on West A Street. I have tried this restaurant several times and believe I have a grasp on the food and service well enough to give a report.
At WH-West the food is prepared considerably differently than it is downtown. If you order the Swiss Mushroom Chicken Sandwich, for intance, it is charbroiled, not cooked on a stovetop. This isn't worse, it's just different and gives the sandwich a different flavor. I prefer the charbroiled version myself.
One downside is that WH-West apparently either doesn't have the recipe for the secret mayo or doesn't know how to make the sauce. I have ordered the dish twice and the sauce hasn't been right either time.
The poor wait staff at the west location is also over-burdened. Every time I've gone there has been one waitress for the whole place. Not enough help. It looks like the kitchen is understaffed too.
The bottom line for me is that both restaurants have the potential to be very good but are underperforming. Still worth going for a good sandwich or wings but not living up to their potential.