50 unknown bars: Unsung but lovable dives, lounges and taverns.
Chicago dives, lounges and taverns.
Wed Nov 3 2010
THE FIFTH PROVINCE
Who would’ve guessed one of the city’s best Irish pubs was hidden inside a former school? Steps from the Blue Line’s Montrose stop, the Irish American Heritage Center’s in-house pub, open Fridays and Saturdays only, draws a cast of neighborhood regulars, as well as actors and theatergoers from its two resident companies, Seanachaí and Shapeshifters. Admire the bar—crafted from repurposed chalkboards—while you order a Bushmills or a proper pour of Guinness ($5). Extra shot On chilly nights, take a seat near the stone fireplace for live Irish rock and trad bands—there’s rarely a cover. 4626 N Knox Ave (773-282-7035).—Martina Sheehan
No relation to the tourist trap to the east, this tiny Art Deco bar serves pizza and booze to Edgewater gays and straights. For the past 29 years, the gorgeous 81-year-old Peggy Gelsomino has manned the ovens, making the dough and sauce herself. Grab a seat at one of the five half-circle booths or at the curvy wood bar and order from the list of 17 bottled beers ($4–$4.75), or go for a cocktail ($3 margaritas on Wednesdays). Make sure to visit during the holidays, when ornaments and lights transform the room. Extra shot Check out the working fountain behind the bar. 1111 W Granville Ave (773-465-1616).—Laura Baginski
Everyone is family at the Lighthouse. Bartenders call the owner “Uncle” and the patrons “Sugar,” Bears games are celebrated with potluck barbecue, and a memorial board displays the obits of past regulars. Hell, the whole bar feels as if it’s housed in your ship-loving grandpa’s rec room. Marked only by a drawing of a lighthouse on its awning, this place isn’t easy to find (the door’s at 1236 West Chase Avenue). The clientele comes for cheap Old Style via long habit, word of mouth or drunken stumbling. Extra shot Grab a six-pack to go from the carryout cooler. 7301 N Sheridan Rd (773-764-9414).—Angela Barnaby
Ex-cop Tony Anthony’s down-home soul-food restaurant and blues lounge features country breakfasts and dinners of rib tips, chicken wings and catfish, drawing workers from the nearby juvenile detention center and board of education, plus police officers and politicians. Miller Lite, MGD ($3 drafts) and Tres Mujeres tequila are the most popular tipples, and blues men Little Milton and Bobby “Blue” Bland dominate the free jukebox. Extra shot The back room hosts no-cover blues concerts, with regular appearances by Slim James, Mary Lane and Charlie Brown. 1400 S Western Ave (312-243-7988).—John Greenfield
Skyline vistas from the sixth-floor terrace; German draft beers for $5 ($4 refills); live jazz and dancing to kitschy German acts—how has this bar evaded a hipster takeover? For one, it’s open only about four nights per month. Run by the DANK German cultural organization, the Skyline’s third-Friday Stammtisch open house brings in a regular crew of spry Deutsche grandmas who pull dance partners from the young crowd; jazz attracts a younger set on fifth Fridays; and German-language students flock to the TreffpunktDANK kaffeeklatsch every second and fourth Wednesday. Extra shot Ask your bartender for German board games. 4740 N Western Ave, sixth floor (773-561-9181).—Martina Sheehan
5 bars…worth a suburban jaunt
These overlooked watering holes outside the city limits are heavy on charm, light on pretense.
THE BAVARIAN LODGE
Don’t let this German hot spot’s location on a dark street across from a Midas dissuade you. Inside are 36 draft beers, 150 bottle brews, surprisingly killer cocktails and damn fine German fare. While the Lodge is obviously beer-heavy, featuring a rotating selection of German and Belgian craft brews, meads and Trappist ales, its Dark and Stormy cocktail is one of the best in or outside the city. 1800 Ogden Ave, Lisle (630-241-4701).—Christina Couch
LUNAR BREWING COMPANY
Authentic enough for hard-core beerphiles, grungy enough for rock fans, friendly enough for casual drinkers, this microbrewery is the perfect neighborhood bar. Featuring 60 bottled beers and 18 on tap, the bar releases new seasonal brews, many of which it created itself, every Wednesday—though the housemade cream ale and stout are available all year long. The place fills up fast during Lunar’s periodic live-band nights, when rock and blues musicians take the stage. 54 E St Charles Rd, Villa Park (630-530-2077).—Christina Couch
MACK’S GOLDEN PHEASANT
Hell yes, there’s still one place in the Chicago area where you can sip $3 mixed drinks and $2 beers. This third-generation family-owned restaurant and bar, in business since 1948, was passed down by a former Illinois state game judge (and named after his favorite bird). It features taxidermied game birds inside the bar and what used to be a working pigeon coop, a garden and koi pond out back. Don’t miss the food, including roast duckling and hearty Austrian specialties. 668 W North Ave, Elmhurst (630-279-8544).—Christina Couch
FLIGHT 112 WINE HOUSE
Get crunk, cultured and coiffed all at the same place. This wine bar/hair salon/art gallery boasts a wide array of organic and ecologically sustainable vinos, as well as a full-scale salon. Every Thursday, Flight 112 offers a glass of merlot and ladies’ haircut special for $29 ($24 for men). Not in need of a cut? The full bar is open to anyone, as is the small menu of munchies. If you like what you drink, take home a bottle for 30 percent off. 112 W Park Ave, Elmhurst (630-758-0808).—Christina Couch
THE MONTROSE ROOM
Partyers flock to this bar inside the InterContinental Chicago O’Hare Hotel for the bands, DJs, comedians and soirees. They stay for the badass cocktails. Concoctions like the Warhol ($12)—a mixture of Mount Gay rum, pureed blackberries and raspberries, lime and simple syrup served in a glass made of ice—make it too easy to run up a steep tab. Before heading out, ask the bartenders to validate your parking. Otherwise, a $5 parking fee magically transforms into an $18 mood-killer. 5300 N River Rd, Rosemont (847-544-5300).—Christina Couch