THE PLACE: The name alone intrigued me: T. Boyle’s Tavern. It’s been a while since a pub-style bar has opened in the area.
I love the look and feel of a bar that makes you think of “Cheers” — “where everybody knows your name.” But it’s not easy to find one that can keep up with the times and avoid turning into a dive.
Troy Boyle, aka T. Boyle, opened the Tavern on Halloween night last year with the idea of turning this former Latin club back to a bar. Boyle brings a lot of bar and contracting experience to the renovated space. The former La Boom club was mostly destroyed inside by a fire.
The new bar offers a great place to catch games on flatscreens, relax with a game of pool or shuffleboard, or just enjoy a nice pint of some tasty ale.
THE PRICE: The name originally drew me in, but the prices and beer selection sealed the deal. There are a variety of beers on tap from a light Bitburger to a wheaty Boddingtons, and a pitcher is just $13 to $14. Bottled beer starts at $4, and the selection is even more extensive. Happy hour lasts from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, when you can get $1 off tap selections.
THE SOUNDS: As much as I enjoy a disc jockey doing all the work for me, most times I love scrolling through a jukebox list with friends and making our own selections. There were lots of Johnny Cash fans in the crowd on the night I visited. But there was a variety of familiar and rare rock and pop tunes rotating on the playlist. My friends and I took advantage of the old-school shuffleboard games in the open, upstairs part of the bar. There was a speaker set up nearby, so it was difficult at times to hold a conversation at a normal level.
THE FOOD: Although the list of food offerings is small and reasonably priced ($3.50 nachos), the tavern also offers a self-serve roasted-peanut station to enjoy all night for free. I stole a bite of the pulled-pork sandwich my friend ordered. It was warm and tasty, nothing spectacular but nothing pretentious either, with a rock-bottom price of $3.50. Boyle had hoped to expand his kitchen and is beginning to offer more food items such as fish and chips. I’m looking forward to more finger foods — yum.
THE VIBE: The tavern has plenty of light and space, with lots of wood and brick and 13 flatscreens at the bar. While it has a modern feel, I loved how it incorporated a lot of the old-style bar items like the nondigital dartboard, and especially the beautifully polished bar, which is about 200 years old.
There were plenty of smiling faces, from groups of friends catching a game together to guys in shirts and ties winding down after work. The bartending staff, including Boyle, was attentive and helpful all night, no matter how busy it got.
AGE GROUP: The tavern drew a variety of people from mid-20s and older, looking to have a good time and enjoy a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
BEWARE: The tavern is a little tricky to find; just think “alley entrance,” and you’ll see the signs. If the parking lot next to the tavern is full, there are plenty more spaces in the parking structure just down the alley.
37 N. Catalina Ave. in Pasadena; the main entrance is off Rhodes Alley. 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m.-2 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays. 626-578-0957
(Photos by Keith Birmingham / Staff)