Sunday, February 25, 2024 Feb 25, 2024
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Keeping Tabs: ILL Minster Pub

Finding this pub isn't easy. Its growing crowd of Uptown regulars likes it that way.
By Tara Nieuwesteeg |

No matter which direction i walked, the blue dot on my iphone’s gps seemed to move away from the ILL Minster Pub. Eventually, I realized it was inside Uptown Urban Market. I pushed into the food hall that opened last year, passed Bar Up and Buda Juice—and walked into a castle chamber.

ILL Minster is low-lit, with a curved brick ceiling, suits of armor in the corners, and paintings of monks and knights along the walls. But this is no dank, quiet hideaway—the ILL Minster is an Uptown clash of modern and medieval. Thrumming dance music plays overhead. TVs line the walls. Men in suits sat at the bar; ladies sipped wine from a leather couch near a fireplace.

I ordered the popular Apple Cinnamon Mule. As the bartender shook up my drink, I asked a couple at the bar how they’d discovered this hidden gem.

“Most people here live nearby,” the woman said. “But the weekends get busy. Word is spreading.”

The guy gave me a “go away” look. I grabbed my copper mug from the bar and retreated. I saw him try to kiss her midsentence, but she pulled away and kept talking.

I found a seat near the back of the room. A guy in business attire sat nearby, enjoying a beer alone. He explained that his parents were visiting from India, and he needed a minute to relax. He told them he was going “to the market”—though they’d thought it was a little late for grocery shopping.

“This place feels like a secret,” I said.

“Yeah,” he agreed. “And I want it to stay that way.”

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