If you’re looking to try some different places with excellent choices for craft beer, head over to Olde Towne Daphne on Scenic 98. Centered, as it has been for as long as anyone can remember, around Manci’s Antique Club, Olde Towne Daphne has a couple of Italian restaurants, a cigar bar, a wine and tapas bar, and a traditional pub, all within about two blocks. If you want to hoof it about a half a mile, there’s also the Southern Napa Wine Store which, in addition to carrying a fantastic selection of wines, also stocks craft beers and, of course, hosts its annual “99 Bottles of Beer on the Lawn” every spring.
Much of the revitalization of Olde Towne Daphne happened around two years ago when Manci’s Antique Club, which had recently shuttered its doors after decades serving the community, was reopened in partnership with Callaghan’s Irish Social Club. Instead of reopening as “Callaghan’s East,” it retained much of the character of the old Manci’s — with lots of old weapons, Jim Beam bottles, a giant snakeskin and, of course, the fig leaf — while bringing much of what we all love about Callaghan’s to the Eastern Shore — especially great burgers and live music.
While retaining the classic Manci’s Sunday Bloody Mary Bar, for beer lovers the new Manci’s offers an excellent selection, with a dozen brews on tap and many other offerings in bottles and cans. There are regular beer specials and the draft offerings change regularly, although there are usually always styles from our local breweries — Fairhope, Haint Blue and Big Beach — which I like to see. There is also usually a “Manci’s Beer” on tap, which also rotates; at last check, it was an Oktoberfest brew.
Manci’s recently opened a brick oven pizza restaurant, Buster’s, next door. Its small bar doesn’t offer any beers on tap, but has a really fantastic assortment of craft beers in bottles and cans, including a number of selections from breweries I have featured in this column, such as Dogfish Head, Boulevard, Southern Prohibition and Cigar City. They also carry styles from Alabama breweries from across the state, including Goat Island, Yellowhammer, Avondale and Straight to Ale.
Next door to Buster’s is Cousin Vinny’s, a casual Italian restaurant that usually has a half-dozen beers on tap and always includes a number of good crafts. Last time I was there, I had a HOPness Monster from North Carolina’s Catawba Brewing Co. It was quite good, a medium IPA with lots of hop flavor. Catawba’s Mother Trucker Pale Ale, Einstök’s White Ale and Goodwood’s Brown Ale were also available, along with standbys PBR and Blue Moon.
About two blocks up the road is Le Bouchon Wine & Tapas Bar. It is a hidden gem in Daphne, with a very different vibe than the other drinking establishments in town — an intimate, comfortable place with couches and comfortable seating scattered around the tables and small bar. While wine and unique tapas are the main draw, there is also something for beer drinkers as well. While only six beers are on tap, as at Cousin Vinny’s, they regularly rotate in new, and often unique, beers. On a recent visit I had a Creedence Pilsner from Colorado’s Crazy Mountain Brewing Co., which I had never heard of before. It reminded me of a good Dutch beer — golden and sweet with a nice, light head.
So while you might not have thought about Daphne as a destination area for a night out, I would recommend you give its Olde Towne a try, as its impressive little entertainment district has a number of good bars and restaurants in a very walkable area. Enjoy!
Photo | Facebook – Buster’s Brick Oven, in the same building as Manci’s, is the latest restaurant in Olde Towne Daphne with a craft beer selection.