Taj Bar may be the most unlikely watering hole on Campus. The basement of a rambling Victorian mansion, attached to a traditional Indian restaurant, is about the last place you'd look for a sleek and modern cocktail lounge.

Taj Bar may be the most unlikely watering hole on Campus. The basement of a rambling Victorian mansion, attached to a traditional Indian restaurant, is about the last place you'd look for a sleek and modern cocktail lounge.

So leave your expectations at the door (or outside on the oversized patio), because Taj Bar is full of surprises. They sling beer and shots to a high-energy college crowd, but in an upscale setting that's cool and contemporary.

It's also friendly and comfortable, with just enough of that Indian influence to make it a little more interesting than a typical Campus hangout.

The decor is the first thing that sets this place apart. Gleaming plastic stools sidle up to a lighted bar top in the main room (the glass counter's soft glow makes everyone look good, even before the beer goggles come out). The adjacent lounge room is furnished with comfy couches and chairs, in red and black leather.

A crowd of students and twentysomethings packs that room on event nights, especially for Excesss Karaoke on Fridays. The regulars definitely take their singing seriously, though the friendly vibe also tolerates the occasional off-key warbling (from the likes of yours truly).

Singer-songwriters grab the spotlight for open-mic night on Tuesdays. Wii Wednesdays feature video games for fun and prizes, while live bands take over the lounge on Saturday nights.

The bar is adjacent to Taj Mahal, a Campus institution that's been serving Indian fare for 25 years. That translates into tasty bar snacks, like the Assorted Appetizer ($7.50), a plate of crunchy and spicy samosas and fried pakora bites that go down great with an Indian beer.

Oh yeah, where else are going to get a bucket of imports like Kingfisher or Flying Horse? One of Taj Bar's many drink specials is a bucket of three 22-ounce bottles for just $15. It's another nod to the worldly flair you can find tucked into an unexpected spot close to home.