The Old Town Tavern

. January 1, 2020.
Photo Credit: Stephen Mccauley for The Old Town Tavern.

Simply, solid and everything you need

For almost fifty years, The Old Town Tavern has been the quiet neighbor on West Liberty. Previously adjacent was Mr. Flood’s Party, which occupied the place next door before the West End Grill moved in, almost three decades ago. Before that, the storefronts on Liberty near Ashley were a series of businesses, dating back over 100 years. Largely unchanged is the space perched on the corner, which has operated as a bar for over a century. The Old Town Tavern simply continued the longstanding tradition of a local watering hole in 1972 when they moved in.

A true “townie bar,” Old Town is populated by families and older folks alike. They have an ample wine and beer list (and are even rumored to be the first Ann Arbor bar to carry Bell’s). Even with ever-changing rotating drafts, the selection isn’t daunting or over-the-top, like the overwhelming brew options offered at many establishments these days. Instead, Old Town’s variety of beverages is just like the rest of its offerings— simple, solid and everything you need.

Time-tested atmosphere

The wood on the tables, benches, chairs, booths and the bar is all the handiwork of former owner Jerry Pawlicki, who purchased the place in 1972. He transferred the ownership to his two sons, Chris and Steve, in 1998, 100 years after the first saloon, Bismarck, opened in the building.

The place comes across as being comfortable in its own skin. It isn’t a “reproduction,” and it doesn’t boast a collection of memorabilia gathered elsewhere. Old Town needn’t try too hard to be authentic because it’s the real thing.

Ambient lighting from hanging Tiffany-style lamps and the eclectic music selection (not a canned soundtrack) make the Old Town a place to relax in a time when everything seems to move too fast.

Food and comfort

The menu is filled with staples including burgers, made with fresh ground beef (from Knights Market), along with veggie and vegan varieties. Sandwiches abound with variety, including grilled cheese, chicken, wraps and other samplings. A portion of the menu is dedicated to southwestern tastes, touting burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos. The good and simple fare fits well in the calm and unpretentious surroundings.

The food is on point, with some new takes on old favorites— the grilled cheese sandwich is served with portobello mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, and the BLT has added an A for avocado— which brings a twist to classic fare. The waitstaff is friendly, attentive and authentic. No corporate trainer has replaced the servers’ personalities with scripted salutations and recommendations. This is the type of hometown place that has kept townies happy for many decades.

Now, with all the changes abounding on Main Street and the surrounding downtown corridors, the Old Town Tavern is even more of a welcome “old friend.” Stop in, grab a seat, and see for yourself.

122 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor.
734-662-9291 |
Hours: 4pm-midnight, Sunday.
11:30am-midnight, Monday.
11:30am-2am, Tuesday-Friday.
11:30am-midnight, Saturday.


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