'Old-school' establishment sticks to the basics
The mirrors, wooden signs and metal decor adorning the dimly lit interior of Taproom Pub & Grub are, for General Manager Brazos Pape, parts of what make the San Marcos bar and restaurant so distinct.
Pape said owners Travis Kelsey and Kevin W. Shea have maintained the Taproom's "old-school pub" feel since taking over the business in 1998. With an entrance situated just off the Hays County Courthouse square, Taproom has avoided bright neon signs, frozen drink machines and blenders in favor of a more European look.
"Just try and keep it to the basics," Pape said.
Open since 1994, Taproom offers hamburgers, ribs and other pub grub. Among 42 beers on tap, 18 blended beers and 60 different types of bottled beer, the most popular drinks are Guinness, Blue Moon and Hoegaarden, Pape said. Some of the bar's signature drinks are Taproom's twist on a top-shelf margarita and a champagne-topped, pineapple-infused martini.
Longtime patron and Kyle resident Tim "Fitz" Fitzgerald persuaded the original owners to start a pub in San Marcos instead of the sports bar they had first intended to open. Fitzgerald drank the first beer ever poured at the Taproom when he was rewarded with a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for helping install a beer tap on New Year's Eve in 1994.
He has since joined Taproom's Around the World Club as one of nearly 1,000 "world travelers" who have consumed each of the bar's 60 draft and blended beers.
Fitzgerald has made the Around the World Club on more than one occasion, choosing the quote, "There's a fine line between genius and insanity, and I think I've just crossed it," for his plaque that hangs on the pub's wall of fame.
World travelers who drink an additional 40 bottles of the pub's beer become members of the Century Club and receive additional prizes.
Beyond beer, Taproom serves food such as the Works Burger, the Guacamole Queso Burger, pitas and sandwiches, and slow-cooked baby back ribs. For especially hungry customers, the restaurant offers the Chupacabra Challenge, which consists of a full rack of ribs, a 1-pound burger with every available topping, a basket of onion rings, a basket of fries and two dozen buffalo wings for $50.
Weighing 7 pounds, the whole meal must be consumed in a 45-minute sitting. Chupacabra Challenge winners take home a T-shirt, and the meal is free of charge. So far, no one has won.
Despite the large number of customers who pass through the pub, Pape said the Taproom offers a close-knit environment.
"It's kind of one of those places where if you come enough, you'll always see somebody you know when you come back," Pape said.
Hours of operation: Sun.-Wed. 11:30 a.m.–midnight, Thu.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m.