Bar Exam: The Urban Tap

Can this East Carson Street joint live up to its self-proclaimed status as “Saahside’s Finest”?

Photos courtesy of The Urban Tap


Let’s just get the preconceived notions of South Side out of the way: Before 10 p.m., most visitors are either headed for The Cheesecake Factory after a shopping spree, or on the search for a truly solid bar or restaurant. Fortunately for those in the latter category, one is probably standing right next to you if you’re on East Carson Street.

But which to choose? Will you step foot into that pub that has stood the test of time, or do you want to be the vanguard who finds the latest drinking establishment? Admittedly, there’s nothing wrong about a good old favorite — but with the endless varieties of bars in South Side, something new can be quite refreshing (and might end up as your personal go-to).

That new favorite spot could be The Urban Tap. Self-proclaimed as “Saahside’s Finest,” the gastropub and drafthouse can suit your needs if you’re looking for a place for a meal or simply a night on the town.

The name of the bar is a fair description of the overall atmosphere: This is a youthful, trendy place where the draft list is written in chalk and TVs paint the walls. By its description, you might think it’s a college bar; on the contrary, the clientele is in fact quite diverse.

On average, The Urban Tap offers 40 draft beers, including domestic products, craft brews and a series of IPAs. Just don’t expect to be served from the giant tap that makes up the centerpiece behind the bar. Tragically, it doesn’t work. (Although I did hear a rumor that making it functional is a work in progress, so it could be a reality sooner than later.)

The food is another good reason to check out The Urban Tap. The appetizers are to die for; Brussels sprouts may not be everyone’s favorite vegetable, but when they are covered with bacon and then roasted — I’ll stop right there. There’s also an entrée list that may surprise those expecting the traditional pub grub of wings and burgers; instead, think coconut curry chicken or pierogi sauté.

Along with those signature dishes, you also can grab something from the lunch menu, available Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The Sunday brunch, served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., is said to be the highlight meal service; nothing screams Sunday Funday like bottomless mimosas and a waffle slider.

“Saahside’s Finest?” It’s a claim that’d be impossible to quantify without months (or years) of research. But for dinner or drinks, The Urban Tap is becoming a go-to spot for many South Side visitors.

Categories: After Dark