Villains Tavern opens tonight on the abandoned-feeling edge of Downtown's Arts District, and we can happily add the small, eclectic space to the city's outdoor bar collection. It's owned by Dana Hollister, the interior designer who also owns Bordello Bar and founded 4100 Bar and Cliff's Edge.
The stand-alone structure looks like a small warehouse - it was built as an industrial space in the 1920s - and is now redecorated from corner to corner. The bar top dates from the 1880s, the mirror behind it is framed in a Gothic-style church window, and the wall opposite is covered in antique, colored-glass bottles.
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There are two patios at Villains, both adorned with a mix of church pews and wrought iron furniture and lit with tea lights and bare bulbs overhead. The side patio is bigger, with a stage for live music as well as a second bar serving only beer and shots. Both are enclosed by high walls that almost completely obscure the surrounding warehouses.
An eight ounce beer (served in a jar) matched with a shot of liquor for $8 is one of Villains' highlighted deals. The bar is also big on drinks with fresh fruit, such as their Bella Donna with Maker's Mark, mint, citrus and blackberries, and the Cerberus with cachaça (a Brazilian sugarcane liquor), peach and pineapple. Among the food on the menu is a half-pound burger with a bacon marmalade, balsamic, and sour cherry spread. The caramel corn is flavored with bacon as well. Because bacon, just like alcohol, tastes better outside.
Villains Tavern: 1356 Palmetto St., Downtown; (213) 613-0766