The Woodlawn Tap (Bar, Hyde Park)
The Woodlawn Tap, a mainstay bar in the heart of Hyde Park, merits a visit whether the temperature outside is ten degrees or a hundred; believe me, I’ve been there during both. The aptly numbered 55 bus (it runs along 55th Street) will take you straight there from either the Green or Red line Garfield stops, but don’t miss it. The outside of the bar is nothing much to look at — a solid black wall with simple lettering and a recessed door — but what it lacks in flair is made up for in spades by the interior. There were beer mirrors for brands I had forgotten existed like Foster’s and Rolling Rock, three televisions above the bar were showing various sports channels and two ancient cash registers sat along the back of the bar like props, that is until I paid for my drink and the bartender deposited my money into one like he was dialing a rotary phone.
I was drinking a Sam Adams traditional on this occasion, which was good because it was the hundred-degree day. It would have taken me about eight seconds to go from front door to first sip had I been a regular, but I was not. I was a bumbling idiot. The moment I walked in the bartender asked for my ID, my beer of choice, and my payment before I had my bottom on the barstool. They have an ATM for us non-University of Chicago bridge trolls who have no idea they only take cash. The bar was well stocked with all of the typical spirits and absolute hoards of well liquor. They also had multiple bottles of unopened wine so although I didn’t get a glass it may have been a safe bet unlike most bars. We’ve spoiled ourselves at bars with endless taps; the Woodlawn Tap has only nine but they give a solid spread for all tastes, from Guinness to Newcastle, Spaten to Fat Tire.
They have a small menu of traditional pub fare, burgers and the like, but the most surprising food options were the beer nuts and beef jerky sticks. Get out of my drunk thoughts, Woodlawn Tap. Need a toothpick? They’ve got ‘em. Want to play golf, bowling, or an Elvis pinball machine? Check. Looking for a fully functioning KOOL cigarette machine? Ping! Popcorn’s done! What more could you ask for? Two separate groups of students had pulled tables together during my visit, and why not? I couldn’t think of a better place to take a break from a grueling 94-page thesis on base four transposition of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory.