It might take a few tries to find it, but once you do, chances are you’ll return. The Alcove International Tavern is hard to give directions to, and owner Chad Smith says that’s been part of the plan from the beginning. “We’re basically two blocks from everything else in town,” says Smith, “but it’s just far enough away that we’re more of a destination spot.”
He wanted the tavern to be a different kind of spot, geared more toward professionals, craft beer enthusiasts and folks in search of a more unique experience. The building is nondescript with a small, unassuming façade, and recognizable landmarks are still a couple blocks away. You just kind of stumble upon it.
Once you do, you’ll find a cool, inviting spot that feels worlds away from downtown. Inspired by his extensive years of traveling the globe for work, Smith sought to bring the international pub flavor to the tavern. The setting is cozy and inviting, with indoor booths and outdoor front and back patio seating. Peruvian art lines the walls and warm shades of sage and golden refurbished wood tables add to the familiar feeling. It’s also non-smoking, a feature that Smith says has enhanced their appeal.
It’s the type of place you can stop into after work in your suit for what he calls “business class happy hour,” or watch a football game while enjoying one of the around 130 beers they stock. If that seems intimidating, you can now peruse their ever-changing selection from your smart phone. Navigate to alcovetavern.com and you’ll be taken automatically to a menu where you can browse drinks by flavors, types or brands so you’ll be ready when you approach the bar. The Alcove’s Facebook page is also updated daily with rotating specials.
The Alcove has filled a much-needed niche in T-Town, where bars are plentiful and often nondescript. There wasn’t a small, comfortable, non-smoking venue that offered the kind of selection he sought. Smith is careful not to use the word “bar,” either, to describe the Alcove. It’s got more character than that.
In addition to beer, the Alcove also serves sophisticated drinks and high quality liquors. They feature live music several nights a week, and a buffet on gamedays (and some soccer matches!). If you’re a traveler, beer aficionado or just looking for something different, the Alcove is just around the corner.
Runner Up: Innisfree
The patios of Innisfree are perfect for warm-weather pints among friends, twinkling with white lights and outdoor flatscreens. The Irish pub interior is cozy and welcoming, with roomy yet intimate nooks and walls layered with paraphernalia from the Emerald Isle. The bar straddles the line between students and the after-work crowd, making it the perfect downtown spot to gather.
Runner Up: Rhythm and Brews
For a decade, this bar and concert venue has anchored Temerson Square in downtown Tuscaloosa. One of the top venues for live music, R&B hosts favorite acts like Farmer’s Daughter and the Velcro Pygmies, as well as weekly karaoke nights. Patrons pack it out for gamedays, too, and it’s a great place to start or finish a downtown pub crawl.