Visited on Sunday, February 27th with Kris, Erin and Ruby
Ben's ReviewWhile we were in Mexico a few weeks ago we found out that some friends of ours would be nearby on their own vacation. We intended to meet up with them for a night, but that didn’t work out, so we arranged to have dinner after we all got back. Last Sunday we met Kris, Erin, and Ruby for dinner at the recently opened Town Hall Tap at 48th & Chicago.
The Tap has a nondescript entrance, I drove right by it as I was looking for it, so we parked a block away. It is on the same block as Pepitos that we reviewed in 2009 (whoa, it’s been a long time). We arrived around 5:30 in the hopes that it wouldn’t be that busy yet and we could get a table big enough for four adults and two toddlers, but it was already nearly full. If we had waited for a proper six person table it would have been over a half hour wait, as it was we squeezed into a four person table with high chairs at the end.
The bar is enormous and beautiful, all wood with a huge wooden arch over the backing mirror. Kris gave me a little bit of trivia about it, it turns out it’s over 100 years old and they bought it from someone in Illinois and had it delivered here. I don’t want to know what the shipping fees were for that. If we weren’t there with the kids I would have considered sitting there, it was cool.
Our server came around to get our drink orders and even though I looked at the menu, I knew I was getting a Masala Mama, it’s just not right to pass this up. Beer Advocate has it rated as one of the best beers in the country. I wasn’t feeling in the mood for a half pound burger, and I’ve been on a Cuban sandwich kick lately, so I went with that. I’m sad that it took me so long to try the Cuban sandwich, as my total happiness for life would have been so much higher if I had discovered it earlier, even in high school.
I’d like to say that the sandwich was memorable, but to be honest it was just good. Nothing wrong with it at all, but nothing that set it apart from other Cubans. It was big if nothing else, and combined with the fries it was a huge meal. I never eat leftovers from restaurants, so I did my damnedest to finish it there, I think I left a bite or two. But really, you can’t go wrong with a sandwich that has cheese, ham, AND pork. Ham AND pork. It’s really something special.
I had wanted to try another beer before we left, but between the meal and my first beer, I was way too full. Kris and Erin invited us over to their house nearby because Kris had made crepes with caramel topping. This was a pleasant surprise and we, of course, obliged. Annie was a little trooper and made it through for a late bedtime that night, but it was well worth it.
Service: The service was good, we were taken care of, and they were good with the young ones.
Food: Great bar food, and they have a kids menu, but you have to ask for it.
Drinks: Obviously a great beer selection of their own brews and some guest taps. Also a full bar.
Ambiance: It was pretty hopping for 5:30 on a Sunday night, so I can imagine it gets even rowdier later at night.
Convenience: Plenty of on-street parking on Chicago and certainly some bus lines.
Lately we've been eating out less and less on our own, and more with Annie in tow. Right now, she LOVES to eat and eats a ton, so the days of just bringing along a banana and some cheerios are sadly gone. When setting up dinner with Erin and Kris, I suggested the Tap because I knew they were frequent visitors and liked it. Since it is primarily a bar, obviously, I asked if it was kid friendly. She said the first time they visited, the server scoffed at the idea of a kids menu, saying they didn't have one and didn't plan on it. Low and behold, a few weeks later they apparently realized what neighborhood they were in, and an extensive kids menu was created!
As Ben mentioned, it was packed - I was really thankful that the hostess let us squeeze 2 high chairs on the end of a 4 top table, since there wasn't any other space for a larger group. I was surprised at how busy it was so early in the evening. Apparently this is quite the hot spot! Right when we sat down, the waitress asked if we wanted the pickles appetizer - I heard the words cream cheese in the description and was instantly sold. They came out quickly and were delicious - the blackberry chutney they are served with was a nice alternative dipping option. I also got a light beer. It was pretty good, I only drank half of it, but that's to be expected.
The kids menu has a few pretty good options, nothing all that healthy. I originally was going to order a cup of chili, but the waitress warned me that it would be too spicy. Who knows if it actually would have been, since Annie seems to be able to handle a bit of flavor, but I chickened out. There are chicken "toes" (you know, since chicken don't have fingers), grilled cheese, and ham and cheese. I went with the ham and cheese for Annie. They all come with a side of fries. It would be nice if they had another option, many places have applesauce or carrots. I wasn't going to sweat it for just one night. I brought Annie's milk from home, so I'm not sure if they had that. She ate one of the sandwiches and a few of the fries, and her and Ruby ended up splitting the 2nd sandwich when we stopped at Erin and Kris' house later.
For myself, I ordered the Brewer's Cheeseburger with Wisconsin Casa Creme Cheese and fries. This was huge. Seriously just huge. I could barely finish even half of it. I would have liked some lettuce or onions on the burger, but what can you do. It really was just a cheeseburger, with a thin spread of mayo under the patty but that's it. I guess I should have read the description more literally. It was pretty good, but nothing special.
If we lived in this neighborhood, we would certainly frequent Town Hall Tap - I liked the vibe, and they were accommodating to Annie and Ruby. I might just stick to beers and appetizers, however, or try something new for dinner. It seems to be a solid addition to the other establishments on that block of Chicago in south Minneapolis.
4810 Chicago Ave S.