Wrigleyville isn't all sticky floors and drunken frat boys (although there's plenty of places for uncivilized behavior)—you can actually also find some calm places for a drink. Whether you want a glass of wine over dinner or craft beer and barbecue, here are a few well-behaved Wrigleyville bars to check out.
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The two coin-op pool tables suck, and you’ll be lucky if there is a complete set of billiard balls. But the Gman, the best Wrigleyville bar for the meathead-avoider, is still a great place to play pool. The talent varies widely, from journeyman players to apprentice drinkers who struggle to hold a cue, which means you might actually get to play.
The twentysomethings in the back room playing board games are missing out. The real action is at the bar, where silver-haired ladies flirt with ex-frat boys and the occasional indie-rock couple. It’s tough to find a place in Wrigleyville where worlds collide and all are welcome for a mildly drunken kumbaya vibe, but that’s exactly what this is.
If we were restaurant psychologists, we’d diagnose this place as bipolar. The front room is a boisterous bar with Big Country on repeat; the dining room is a serene, candlelit venue for local cabaret acts. But whichever vibe you prefer, the menu is the same: Sweet, meaty crab legs are a standout from the raw bar. Chunky crab cakes are topped with a sharp chive mayo; and juicy salmon filets are flanked by perfectly grilled shrimp. (Be sure to call ahead on Cubs game days because hours vary. On second thought, avoid the place altogether on game days, unless you want to fight the crowds.)
This huge beer garden turns into a laid-back college reunion on weekend nights in summer, with baseball-capped dudes and spaghetti-strapped chicks flanking the outdoor bar. In colder months, the attention turns to the more sophisticated picks on the beer list and the slabs of ribs that go a long way toward warming the belly.
You might expect a place that has a 70% vegetarian menu and was completely nonsmoking before it had to be to serve boring dishes made with soy milk and flaxseeds. But this coffee shop/bar/restaurant/performance space will surprise you. During brunch, the winners keep coming: The huevos rancheros are gooey, cheesy and substitute black-bean cakes for tortillas; and the fruit plate sometimes comes with passion-fruit sorbet and a slice of white-chocolate banana bread. The dinner hour brings Jeff Buckley tributes and enough surprisingly good cocktails to get through them.