Toad’s Tavern is located off busy East University Avenue, making it feel like a bit of a secret place to imbibe. It’s a small and cozy place, with pool, Buck Hunter and a few other arcade games. If you’re on a budget, Toad’s is a great spot for cheap drinks, especially during happy hour (4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday) when the bar offers $1 draws, $2 bottles and 50 cents off all cocktails. Thursday night is often busy, with $2 rum drinks all night. We stopped by on a Wednesday evening to see what helped Toad’s reach the No. 2 spot in our reader poll.
7:31 p.m. We park in the gravel lot behind the bar and walk by the bartender, who is smoking outside the back door. She yells that she’ll be with us in a minute.
7:32 p.m. As we survey the bar for a place to sit, we notice there are about a dozen people standing by the bar and pool table. All dudes. We sit at a couple barstools and wait for the bartender.
7:34 p.m. She comes back into the bar, chatting with a few men she passes on the way. She says “What are ya havin,’ ” and as I start to order a Boulevard, she says, “Bud Light? Coors Light?” No, I’ll have a Boulevard, thanks. My friend starts to order a Bud Light Clamato, but not before the bartender asks, “Bud Light? Coors Light?”
7:37 p.m. A few sips into our beers, the bartender asks what brings us in. As the only females, and the only people not drinking a domestic draw, we stick out like sore thumbs.
7:45 p.m. The guys beside us begin to tell us about the house they’re helping to build down the street. Apparently it’s a helluva job — they seem pretty pumped about it.
7:47 p.m. The bartender opens a container that says hummus on the label, and begins eating it with a fork. Turns out, it’s potato salad. She sets it down behind the bar to pour a beer for a customer and join a game of pool with a few others.
7:55 p.m. We want to take a shot of RumChata, but the guys beside us insist that the Cinnamon Toast Crunch-flavored liquor tastes even better mixed with Hot Damn, and buy us a round. The bartender stops her game to mix the shots and take a bite of potato salad. The mix is good, but we still think the soft flavor of the original is better.
8:20 p.m. We finish our beers and pay our tab as the bartender and our new “friends” encourage us to stop in again.
Find it: 3002 State Ave.
Hours: Noon-2 a.m. Monday through Saturday