Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Keep scrolling to find our curated lists of tavern names for Small Villages, Harbor Towns, Crossroads, and more.
As you step through the door, you are greeted by the smell of aged honey and the sound of raucous laughter.
You’ve heard that the Whistling Eel was the largest tavern in Porta Quenya, but as you look into the sea of people crowded around tables, you swear it must be the largest tavern in the whole of the Archipelago.
You shuffle past pirates and sailors and nobles and powder priests before finally arriving at a bar that must be a hundred meters long.
A rhacofolk bartender slams a few drinks down for the patrons to your left before croaking out the words you’ve been longing to hear:
“What’ll it be?”
Taverns, pubs, bars, inns, alehouses. Whatever you want to call them, these drinking dens are a mainstay in not just RPGs but in storytelling as a whole.
From Bree’s Prancing Pony to the Mos Eisley Cantina, these seedy hives of scum and revelry are the perfect place for an adventuring party to start their journey.
In this article, we’re going far beyond your everyday tavern name generator.
We’ll be talking all about what makes a good tavern and giving you everything you need to bring yours to life.
From things as simple as naming your bartender to figuring out what plot hooks to seed into the patrons, this is your one-stop-shop for everything tavern related.
What Makes a Good Tavern?
Taverns are more than just a place to grab a bite to eat and rest your head for the night. In most towns and cities, these are social hubs.
Whether they’re vibrant and full of life or dark and seedy, a tavern is where you go to get tips about the surrounding area, to pick up leads, and maybe even hire a few extra hands to adventure alongside you.
There’s a good reason most campaigns seem to default to starting in a tavern. If there’s somewhere that a few adventurers looking to make a name for themselves can be found, it’s here.
So it stands to reason that your party isn’t the only group of people interested in the strange happenings nearby.
When DMs build a tavern, the main goal should be to fill it with exciting opportunities for our players to uncover.
Talking to the patrons and staff might uncover a wide variety of potential adventuring hooks, or each person might have some new detail about the specific adventure you’re already involved in.
Remember though, the people who inhabit these diners, drive-ins, and dives are more than just exposition dumps. They’re exposition dumps wrapped up in a memorable description and a name.
When we give our background characters thorough descriptions, we’re doing more than just bringing them to life.
Our players are more likely to remember what a character says to them if they’re invested in that character, and we do that by making them interesting.
Just think about it, are you more likely to remember Joe Smith, the human farmer, or Gavlin Aurelius, a squat dwarf whose beard is adorned with a king’s ransom of golden jewels?
The same principle goes for taverns as a whole. A bar and bed built out of an overturned ship is far more interesting than your average run-of-the-mill saloon.
The more creative we are, the more descriptive we can be, and the more our players will be able to suspend their disbelief and really immerse themselves in whatever adventures we’re setting up.
To sum it up, we don’t just want a tavern with people in it. We want a memorable location with interesting patrons. We want a place that feels alive.
Of course, that all starts with a name.
For each location below, we’ve included a few tables. You can roll for tavern name, description, bartender, and menu items, or as always, feel free to come up with your own.
We’ve included some tables for various places you might find taverns. To give you an idea of descriptions, menu, and bartender names, we’ve included a table for those in the Small Village and Harbor Town categories (arguably the most common places to find a tavern).
For the rest of our locales, we’ve simply included some names that are a bit more finely tuned to the specific environment.
A quaint farmtown, a hillside hamlet, or even the remnants of a once-great city can be a great place to spend the night for a group of adventurers.
In these remote locales, you’re almost guaranteed to uncover some undealt with problem, be it a band of brigands or a tribe of mischievous kobolds.
- The Bear’s Den
- The Whistling Kettle
- Halfwit Keep
- The Angry Blackbird
- The Burnt Basilica
- (Insert Bartender’s Name)’s Chapel of Cheap Brews
- The Witch’s Scream
- Sneaky Kobold Alehouse
- The Red Dragon Inn
- The Kicking Mare
- Living Plant Inn
- The Necromancer’s Bane
- Repurposed Church
There’s a sad beauty to this bar that was clearly once a chapel. Low tables are surrounded by stools repurposed from pews, and the bar itself seems to be little more than a few planks fixed between two altars.
The light flooding in through the bits of stained glass that remain polished almost make the sullen patrons seem joyous and vibrant.
2. Farmer’s Lodge
Muddy footprints line the entryway to this small tavern that is little more than a shack.
Two round tables outline your path to the bar, a slightly elongated podium occupied by several empty glasses and a half-full pitcher containing what passes as ale.
Along the eastern wall is a set of ancient stairs accompanied by a scribbled sign with an arrow pointing up that reads “Ruums.”
3. Bigger on the Inside
From the outside, this tavern looks to be slapped squarely in the space between two large houses.
When you step through the door, you realize that this tavern isn’t merely adjoined to the houses on either side of it but that the walls of the first floor have been completely removed, leaving an enormous space full of tables and patrons.
The bar stretches along the entire length of the back wall (walls?), with several bartenders busily filling orders.
4. Bed and Breakfast
As you walk through the door, you appear to just be in a house. It isn’t until closer inspection that you realize you have made it into the inn and that it just appears to be a lived-in home.
Portraits align the hallways but appear to be of esteemed patrons rather than family members, and each room features just a few more tables than you’d expect for normal furnishing.
Perhaps the most obvious hint are the signs pointing to the kitchen that all read “Give us your order, then make yourself at home.”
5. Colorful Inn
You immediately see why they sometimes call this tavern “The Long House.” This crowded bar is a single hallway with high tables, stools, and colored doors lining your path to the open door at the end.
The room at the end is a kitchen, closed off from the public by a single log counter and a friendly bartender waiting to tell you the order. (Each room is decorated with the color of the door.)
6. Town Centre
Inn, tavern, smith, chapel, and town hall. It seems this building you’ve found yourself in fills all of these roles for the people of the town.
Legal documents are laid out on a long table, a forge sits behind the counter and next to a cabinet full of wines and ales, and the bartender dressed in holy clothing greets you with a cheery, “Blessings, beers, or blades. What’ll it be?”
- Gr’ Ok-Nar
An elderly orc with a broken tusk. His pale green skin is blotched with stains of golden-brown that match the ale he pours.
2. Mala Su
A rugged wood-elf with an infectious laughter. Their loose clothes and worn apron give no sign of gender.
If asked whether they are male or female, they’ll simply respond that they’re a bartender.
3. Argot Nolan
A northman through and through, Argot is as white as a ghost, save for his golden hair and piercing green eyes. In another life, he could’ve been a prince or war chief.
Perhaps he even was, but now the only thing he cares about is brewing up exciting new ales for his regular patrons.
4. Teloc Croust
This kenku barkeep might not say much, but she certainly knows how to brew a good ale.
No matter what you say, she’ll stare back at you with her bright purple eyes and wait until you finish your drink before promptly pouring you a fresh one.
5. Brianne Cavanesh
This young human woman took over her father’s bar when he died and refuses to let a thing about it change.
She wears his apron like a ballgown and keeps his grimy towel thrown across her shoulder at all times.
6. Dornag Malanor
Dwarves don’t often wind up in towns this small, but Dornag is a different breed. The plump, cheery little man wants nothing but a quiet life serving up the finest ales and wines in the countryside.
His mustache is twirled into an ornate series of handlebars with the last seamlessly transitioning into his braided hair.
His hair, poise, clothes, and everything about him radiates happiness and content.
- Barn Mill Mead 7sp
- Wadka (fermented potato beverage) 4sp
- King’s Crown Ale 5 gp
- Offal 4 sp
- Hachis (Shepherd’s Pie) 5 sp
- Bread and Stew 5 cp
- Gruel 2 cp
- Noodles 3 sp
- Wood-elf Wine 1 gp
- Sylvan Spirits 8 sp
- Herbal Tea 3 cp
- Aged pork belly 1 gp
From smaller fishing villages to large ports, there are plenty of reasons for civilizations to crop up by the water.
A strong breeze carries the smell of salt water and fish to your nose, but you’re not here for a sea-bound adventure. Not yet at least.
It’s time to take the load off and sing a shanty with the lily-livered, yellow-bellied patrons of the local watering hole.
- The Salty Saloon
- Shipwreck Shoals
- The Greasy Bullywug
- Trident Tavern
- The Siren’s Wail
- The Angry Kraken
- The Bonny Lass
- Poseidon’s Respite
- The Whaler’s Delight
- The Captain’s Daughter
- The Crow’s Nest
- The River Bend
- Overturned Ship
The strange shape you saw when entering town becomes clear as you approach the tavern. A large ship has been completely flipped with only a few supportive structures added to turn it into a grandiose tavern.
The inside is full of nautical decorations. Tables made from helms, nets hanging to and fro, and even a few large chests all give the impression that you could take off for sea at any moment
2. The Traveling Tavern
You’ve heard of the tavern that docks at ports along the coast, but you always thought it was a myth. Sure enough, docked in front of you is a ship hanging a flag with two clanking steins.
From the cannon ports you can see revelers obscuring the candle light, signs of a party that never stops.
3. The Angler’s Hangout
The smell of fish fogs your brain as you step through the door to the local bar. Barrels of the local catch line the walls, and you could easily be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into a small markethouse.
Still, the people gathered around the tables are happily drinking away and sharing stories, and a tired bartender waits at the counter for your order.
4. The Foreign Stop
This port is known to be a hub of travel. Immigrants from far-off lands, tired and hungry from their travels, often make their first stop at this bustling tavern.
The building itself, simple in its design, feels almost unfit to hold all the colorful guests it entertains.
The sea of people in front of you boasts all sorts of humanoids and some forms of sentient creatures you’ve never even heard of.
5. The Abandoned Keep
Long ago this great keep was a valuable asset in a great war. More recently, it was run by bandits that charged a heavy toll on passersby.
Now though, fortune has it that some clever entrepreneurs have converted it into a hostel at the border of the port town.
The main dining hall has been converted into a bar while all the rooms and even the guard towers are freshly furnished to accommodate hundreds of patrons.
6. The Resort
Several small cabins surround the central building, which is the tavern itself. Inside, the staff almost seem to outnumber the patrons.
Waiters, cleaning staff, a full battalion of bartenders. This place is run like clockwork to accommodate the many guests that pass through.
- Greta and Veen Porterson
These sturdy, tan siblings were once stowaways. When they made port, they found all sorts of jobs until they made their way to this tavern.
Slowly over the years, they turned it into a fine establishment, and they hold their heads high with pride for their accomplishment.
2. Norila of the Ambermane
This leonin woman comes from an old pride of brewers in her home country. She sought to spread her family’s gift with the world, and set up shop in this port.
Her dark golden fur matches the color of her signature drink, the Leonin’s Growl.
Work for a warforged was hard after the war, but Anchor found that their massive intellect was well served in creating the perfect recipes for all sorts of food and drink.
The tall iron construct has several attachments on their hands, seemingly used for various sizes of measurements. Their hollowed out chest is full of brewing equipment, giving credence to the nickname “Walking Brewery.”
4. The Pebblebeard Family
Girin, Birin, Aylin, Crailin, and Wailin all busily make their way from patron to patron, spreading joy in their quaint little tavern.
These small rock gnomes all have wispy brown hair and rosy cheeks, as if strained from smiling all day long.
This brick-red orc looks more suited for the life of adventure than a life behind a counter.
From his rippling muscles and scarred skin to his neatly braided hair and furrowed brow, everything about this barkeep suggests he’s never even thought of paying for security.
6. Uncle Uglooba
Some kuo-toa might be feral and vicious, but this portly fish man couldn’t be further from his kin. His long whisker-like tendrils and spotted chin give the impression of wisdom.
This chatty, sage-like barkeep always keeps a pot of tea brewing for the patron who is there more for relaxation than revelry.
- Fried fish 5 cp
- Sushi rolls 5 sp
- Spiced Rum 2sp
- Triton Rum 1 gp
- Aged Salmon 8 sp
- Spicy Noodles 4 cp
- Ice Shore Mead 2 gp
- Coconut Cream Ale 1 gp
- Boiled Taro 2 cp
- Pichi-Pichi 3 sp
- Turon 6 sp
- Romazava 4 cp
After several days of walking with barely any real sleep, a party of adventurers sees a building come into view at the end of their trail.
At the intersection of several trade routes stands a large tavern, a welcome respite to weary travelers from across the country.
- The Twin Trees
- Dragon’s Crossing
- Alestone Keep
- The Tired Kenku
- The Wild Mill
- The Barrel Mine
- The Desert Oasis
- (Insert Bartender’s Name)
- The Shifty Shack
- The Witch’s Cauldron
- The Golden Keep
- Four Winds Brewery
In the slums of a bustling city, you’re sure to find many seedy bars. Whether these are gambling spots, brothels, or the hangout for a local gang, you’re sure to find a good drink and some spicy rumors.
In the more affluent sections of the city, the exclusive nightclubs host themed parties and balls and serve wine and spirits imported from all over the world, maybe even from other planes.
If you can convince security that your names are on the list, there are no limits to the connections and secrets you can find within.
- The Dancing Fairy
- (City’s Name)’s Liver
- House of Fine Wines
- The Needles Cove
- The Beholder’s Fist
- The Wizard’s Elixir
- The Elven Comfort Den
- The Halfling’s Whimsy
- The Chittering Donkey
- The Dragon’s Hoard
- The Lonely Tower
In the middle of a mountain, erected between mines, forges, and armories, stands a tavern made of the purest bronzes and steels.
Great distilleries and fermenters fill the space, almost ornamental in their construction. All are welcome here as long as you follow the one rule: finish your drinks.
- The Hammered Snail
- The Bearded Mug
- Battle Brother’s Brewery
- The Restless Soldier
- The Five Gallon Stein
- Moradin’s Reprieve
- The Amber Forge
- Battlehammer Beers
- The Brewing Stone
- Kopper Kings Alehouse
- The Fiery Gil
- Stonewort Stronghold
Clockwork automatons hurry from table to table, collecting orders and delivering drinks. A young wizard stands behind the counter, infusing a fresh elixir guaranteed to knock your socks off, literally.
A few patrons pass around a pipe filled with Pixie Hash, a wild magical herb that can do anything from giving you a third eye to letting you fly.
In high-magic settings, standard drinks and food might not be the only thing you find in a bustling tavern. Magical elixirs and strange herbs with unique effects are sure to be the popular choice for many patrons.
- The Pixie’s Porter
- Toil and Trouble Tavern
- The Weave
- The Burnt Potion
- Mystra’s Mischief
- The Sneaky Sprite
- Tipsy Troll’s Tavern
- The Elixir Barn
- The Stained Spellbook
- Grit N Owlbear It
Taverns are a load of fun, but they also serve such an incredible purpose in the storytelling. The way you bring yours to life will tell so much about what kind of people live in the city around it and about what kind of world exists around it.
I hope you use these tables to come up with some unique ideas or possibly find some inspiration in the names and descriptions I’ve provided.
More than anything, I hope this makes your job as a DM easier so you can focus more on creating exciting plot hooks, I mean patrons, for your characters to encounter.
As always, happy adventuring.
- About Author
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.