When Thomas Avenue Beverage Company closed nearly a year ago, hundreds of Brooks Brothers-clad fraternity guys suddenly cried out in terror. There would be no more Vegas Bombs for sorority gals in riding boots, no Miller Lite stains on Vineyard Vine button-downs. It was a truly dark time.
The truth is that TABC was a chaotic dump.
Sure, it was a slightly more mature version of The Aardvark in Fort Worth or 311 in Austin, and that attracted a certain culture of, well, the description of the crowd depends on your opinion on Greek life. The inside of TABC was a dark, dirty mess that lacked the charisma of a good dive bar, and the prices were more in line with well-kept establishments in Uptown.
The inside of TABC was a dark, dirty mess. Boxwood Tap+Grill is a welcome facelift.
Still, it was hard to argue with the patio. Despite the late-night debauchery happening inside on the weekends, the multitiered patio felt pleasant and cozy, thanks to a giant tree sprouting up amid the tables. It was certainly the jewel of TABC.
So when the restaurant-bar bit the dust over a dispute with the Realtor, there was the question of just what might inhabit the prime real estate at Thomas and Allen. Enter Tommy DeAlano and a bevy of co-owners who completely renovated the inside to create Boxwood Tap+Grill. It was a welcome facelift.
In place of the awkward horseshoe bar that created more bottlenecks than it served, the group installed a simple, straightforward bar against the wall, filled in the space with tables that didn’t wobble, and put up taps of good beer.
Granted, there’s still Bud Light taking up space, but it now competes against the likes of locals such as Revolver and Peticolas, as well as out-of-state options from Left Hand, Oskar Blues and Boulevard.
It’s refreshing to see that quality beer gets premium positioning, considering the tap wall is limited to 10 options. But that small selection is equally welcome at a time when the quantity of taps at certain bars threatens to overwhelm. At Boxwood, quality wins out when it could’ve easily been ignored.
The exposed brick walls no longer seem dingy, but part of a concerted aesthetic for bohemian chic against ornate green wallpaper and golden tin ceiling above the clean veneer of the bar. In place of a dirty carpet is hardwood floor. It feels like a smaller space at first glance, but the design makes it inviting and open. It's decidedly grown-up after the grunge of TABC.
And there’s still the glorious patio out back, only now it feels less like a bipolar departure from the interior. It actually makes sense that this place would have such a nice outdoor area, because the inside of Boxwood matches it.
This is not to say that Boxwood doesn’t get down on the weekends. It’s just that although the crowd has a a similar makeup to TABC’s — you can see it in all the North Face vests — it has grown up a bit with Boxwood. It’s the inevitable step from “I graduated last year” to ordering a water after your second beer. You can still order shots here (ain’t nobody allergic to cash money), but it seems a bit foolish when they sell pitchers of Texas Juleps.
Because it’s not a symptom of functioning alcoholism if it comes in a pitcher. My pledge trainer taught me that.