When Sara Chavez and Samantha Strahan took over ownership of joint restaurant and bar The Taproom and The Porch in 2021, their goal was to maintain the restaurant’s almost 30-year-old charm and integrate the bar into San Marcos’ live music scene.

Now, they said they’re working toward being a “pocket on The Square” with good food and live music for locals, college students, alumni and visitors alike.

Meet the owners

Chavez and Strahan have known each other for 10 years, working in Austin bars, restaurants and event booking jobs. There’s not a service industry job they haven’t done, Strahan said, but they always wanted to open a bar.

They saw that San Marcos was short on music venues and toured The Taproom and The Porch in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit. They said it took two years, but they have finally found their groove.

“We just want to make it ... a cool place for people to come and hang out and enjoy a good meal and a beer,” Strahan said. “And like, a nice place for local artists to play. If we focus on those things, maybe everything else will work out.”

What they offer

The Taproom opened on New Year's Day in 1994 and is located at the back of the building, accessible by walking through Kissing Alley. The food menu features bar foods like wings and fried pickles. They also have 36 beers on tap from Texas and around the world.

The Taproom is most known for its burgers made with half a pound of seasoned ground beef cooked medium well on a toasted sweet sourdough bun. That’s one aspect of the business Chavez and Strahan say won’t change.

“We've tried to keep what people love about The Taproom and have loved for almost 30 years very much the same,” Strahan said. “So if you walk in and you graduated from Texas State 15 years ago, you're still going to know, ‘oh, this is The Taproom.”

The Porch opened in 2013 and is the half of the building facing the Hays County Courthouse square. Chavez and Strahan use the space to showcase San Marcos’ creative side. Before they bought it, the space had live music, but was more like a bar with a DJ.

Chavez said it’s been fun to connect with local artists, organizations, students and the people who show up to The Porch for a good time.

“We’ve got everything,” Chavez said. “Weird stuff like Attic Ted to mainstream metal like Our Last Daze.”

What else

Strahan said The Taproom and The Porch are like a “two-headed dog,” but it’s fun for them to be two things at once.

“You can have this intimate pub feel in The Taproom where the primary restaurant is and The Porch is great for parties, day drinking on The Square, playing pool, watching sports,” Strahan said. “They're two different energies but we really try to kind of create this more cohesive experience when you're here.”