Tuman’s Tavern— or as the sign in the window put it for years, Tuman’s Alcohol Abuse Center— in Ukrainian Village would be our candidate for the quintessential Chicago hipster dive bar, by which we mean, a slice of dark, dingy Algrenesque Chicago which was slowly taken over by hipsters. But we all know what happens when hipsters take over a neighborhood, right? It’s a short stroller walk with your decaf latte to full gentrification. Serious students of hipster anthropology regard the original Tuman’s as having closed in 2003 with new owners and various changes (which is when it became a mere Tavern), but this new incarnation, called Tuman’s Tap & Grill, seems to seal the deal pretty firmly. But we could be wrong; help us make up our mind. We’re going to post an excerpt from the press release for TT&G;, and an excerpt from this memorial to the hipster-era Tuman’s at the Chicago Bar Project, and if you can tell which is which, we’ll know that Tuman’s has really changed.
The macabre saloon was a favorite to bike messengers, online diarists/blogs, musicians, urban yokels, writers, bartenders from the area, adventurous North Siders, art students, ruers of hygiene, cheapskates, scruffmeisters, poseurs, toadstools, Ralph Nader supporters, neighborhood “usuals,” booze sponges, pedantists, foolish Suburbanites, trust fund slummers, munchy vendors, nuevo hippies, post-grunge flannelists, would-be poets, secretly homeless, High Fidelity worshipers, drummers, drug addicts, Polkaholics, Dead Kennedy admirers, Shaggy look-a-likes, experimenters in facial hair, Ragstock shoppers, roaches, and an old lady pool shark. All of the above subtly grooved to an eclectic jukebox under the digital Old Style clock set 30 minutes fast that featured Fugazi, Velvet Underground, Hank Williams, the Swans, ZZ Top, Gang of Four, Motorhead, the Melvins, the Clash, Nirvana, Burning Spear, Johnny Cash, Spacemen 3, and MC5.
[Chef Monica] Riley’s opening menu features selections such as: Prince Edward Island mussels, locally-made chicken chorizo, shallots, garlic, herbs, Allagash White Belgian-style wheat beer, grilled crusty bread ($11); Marinated grilled calamari, olives, citrus, arugula ($9); Grilled skirt steak sandwich, oven-roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, blue cheese, baguette ($11); Amber ale-braised corned beef sausage Reuben, sauerkraut, Swiss, Thousand Island dressing, wheat roll ($8); Half-roasted garlic Amish chicken, white wine herb sauce, red skin mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables ($14). [Owner Tommy] Magee made minor cosmetic upgrades to the physical space, including removing the wood-and-stained glass partition that separated the north side of the bar from the main bar, and he added new wood floors, two spacious new booths, new HDTVs and two new beer towers with a total of 28 tap handles.
We know, it’s subtle. Anyway, what’s done is done, you can’t stay a hipster forever— okay, that’s obviously untrue, we’re surrounded by people doing just that every time we go out— things change, a relationship is like a shark, what’s the fun of going somewhere if you can’t someday hold it over someone else who never went there. Ah, Tuman’s. What? You never went there? Oh man. That place ruled. In the meantime, welcome to Chef Monica Riley, a veteran of Lokal, Hopleaf and Marigold, and enjoy your Prince Edward Island mussels with a beer list which includes microbrews from places like Great Lakes and Chatoe, as well as Pabst Blue Ribbon.