If you want to know what kind of bar Pop Tavern (825 N Killingsworth St., 206-8483) is, just look where they hang the marquee. A few blocks away on Killingsworth, the Florida Room uses its near-identical letterboard sign to tell the whole damn world "HONUS IS THE MAN" and "MORALITY IS THE LAST BASTION OF COWARDICE." Pop Tavern, though? They hang their slogan board inside the bar instead, facing nobody but the bartender.
They're just talking to themselves—and what they're saying is, they're "THROUGH BEING COOL" or in mourning for recently departed drummer Andrew Loomis. They've got no website—and the official Facebook page until recently was just a picture of a dog wearing sunglasses.
The exposed brick wall opposite the marquee is mostly bare except for a few posters of old Wire and Gun Club shows, and the bar top is the same old repurposed bowling-lane wood as when the space was still called Duckett's Public House, a mungy dive that dug so, so deep the old regulars are probably still buried under the floorboards. Pop Tavern owner Demetri Kassapakis—who also owns the Hilt on Alberta, and helped start the Bonfire Lounge on Stark in the '90s—threw months of toil into rebuilding filthy, rotten Duckett's from the ground up. But the result was a bar that looks a lot like "bar"—the platonic form of bar, as understood equally well by Hank Williams I, II and III.
But the tap list is way more decent than it should be, with the $2.75 Coors Banquet joined by Commons Urban Farmhouse and Pfriem IPA. And the burger—a mere $6.50—is juicy and beefy and comes with maybe the city's finest crinkle fries, salted just so. It's all so worn-in you could be fooled into believing the bar has been open for 20 years instead of just a month, until a little piece of the old Duckett's drifts in. "I don't do any drugs I can't grow myself," says a former Duckett's patron. "That's why I've got a coca plant." He then leaned in menacingly and called one of our former interns "good-looking but full of shit." The bartender pulled the guy's beer, turned up the David Bowie, and all was well.