And then, on Labor Day weekend in 2018, City Tavern closed.
"Our landlord, Adam Salazar, owner of On Premise and The Mitchell next door to the Main Street location, wanted to take the space for his own concept," says City Tavern owner Joshua Florence, who also owns Deep Ellum favorites Off the Record, Independent Bar & Kitchen and Club Dada. "It was bittersweet, considering it wasn't really our choice to leave. It was a little sad to leave a location where so many memories had been made, but from an operational point of view, it was a very old, dilapidated space that needed a serious amount of love."
"We have such a wonderful customer base that have become family over the years — our No. 1 goal was to find something close to the OG location," Florence says. "From there, we wanted to make sure it was something we could afford. It's not easy paying downtown Dallas rent prices selling $4 beers and $8 burgers. Thankfully, 1514 (Elm St.) was available, something we could afford, on the same timeline we were on and about only half a block away from the old location. That was an answered prayer."
Last week, City Tavern 2.0 opened its doors. It feels a lot like the old location, down to the shotgun layout and cozy, old-school red leather booths.
Sweetening the deal, City Tavern 2.0 went from single-stall bathrooms to spacious new restrooms with multiple stalls and far shorter lines. The old City Tavern used upstairs for live music; now, everything is contained to a single room. The popular smoker's patio out front is gone, but the seats along the front window offer a comfortable place to sit and watch the city go by. The only downside we found to the new location is the sound — even before it got packed, it got pretty loud in there.
"City Tavern is a special place, and we're all very excited about this next chapter." — Joshua Florence
For those who loved City Tavern's no-frills food, the new menu (check out a PDF below) is a trip down memory lane, with the same barbacoa nachos ($12), double cheeseburger ($12; $6 on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and all day/all night breakfast offerings. You'll also find a few new beer options, including locally brewed beers from Oak Cliff Brewing Co.
"We brought back some customer favorite menu items — like homemade jalapeno poppers — and added a few new items, Bill's Footlong Dirty Dog being one," Florence says.
"The beauty of City Tavern has always been the community of customers and staff that are like family," Florence says. "When we quietly opened last week, it was very apparent that they were all very happy to have their little City Tavern back. It was heartwarming and a little overwhelming to see everyone turn out.
"City Tavern is a special place," Florence says, "and we're all very excited about this next chapter."
City Tavern, 1514 Elm St. (Downtown). Open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.