So we get asked all the time, what’s the best fill-in-the-blank (burger joint, pizza place, dive bar, etc.). It happens so often, that we’ve decided to make a series out of it. We’re rolling it out with the best bars in Old Town because that’s what the majority of you have asked, and we give you what you want. As you know, I’m still a relative newbie (but I roll with a solid crew of natives), so if you think this list is missing something tell us in the comments!
The Original (a.k.a. The One You Already Know): Old Town Ale House – 219 West North Avenue – http://www.theoldtownalehouse.com
So, yes, this is not news to anyone, but any place that gets a hat tip from Anthony Bourdain and Roger Ebert and has naked portraits of politicians obviously has to be included. In fact, I don’t think anyone could make a list of the best bars in Old Town without including the Old Town Ale House. The Old Town Ale House has been around for almost 60 years and is keeping it real by bringing back the old school feel of original Old Town. But back to those naked portraits, owner, Bruce Elliot paints them himself. If you’re a policy wonk who loves a good jaw wag he’ll bend your ear for as long as you’ll let him. This place is the real deal. Don’t miss it.
Something Classy:The Vig – 1527 N. Wells St. – http://www.thevigchicago.com
OMG the food! Don’t get me wrong, I love their cocktails (and their punny names—Doin’ Thyme, Go Fig or Go Home). I mean seriously, where else can you get a PB&J inspired cocktail, or a “Boozy Slushie”? Nowhere, that’s where. But let’s get back to the food. I’m literally salivating as I write this thinking about their charcuterie plate, and that’s just an appetizer. The brunch menu is unparalleled, including the larger than typical selection of brunch booze. Do yourself a favor and make this a first stop on a night out. This isn’t drunk food; this is legit foodgasm fodder. The 1950’s inspired atmosphere makes it a great place for a date night too, especially on warm evenings when the front windows are wide open!
Something Campy:Happy Camper – 1209 N. Wells St.– http://www.happycamperchicago.com
What’s not to love about the Happy Camper? They’ve got an actual airstream camper with twinkly lights on the ceiling (a la the out-of-doors), a neon sign of the Great Lakes, tire swings, and PIZZA! Not just any pizza either, their pizza is seriously delicious! Beer and pizza go together like Beyonce and Jay-Z. Oh, and the best part is you can order on their website and have your pizza ready before you can stumble your drunk @$$ in there to wolf it down!
Can’t Go Wrong: Corcoran’s Grill and Pub – 1615 N. Wells St.– http://corcoransoldtown.com/
A Yelp reviewer said, “Whether you want to people watch on Wells or simply enjoy a sunny Chicago day, their front and back patios are great!”. I couldn’t agree more. Their patios, alone, make Corcoran’s a great spot to hang out day or night. At night, it’s lively with locals and some out of towners looking for a good time. And good times will be had here; I've never had a bad night at Corcoran’s. It also doesn’t hurt they have good food and daily happy hour specials that won’t break your bank. Bring your friends, date or family, and you'll have a good time at Corcoran's.
Your Home Away From Home: Woodie’s Flat – 1535 N. Wells Rd. - http://www.woodieschicago.com
They call themselves a dive bar, but I’d call it a feel-good bar. It’s got the familiar feel and lack of pretension of a dive bar, but without the “will I catch something from the toilet?” skeeziness. The name comes from their 1954 wood-burning grill, so you can bet the food is top-notch. The wood-grilled burgers are a must! Oh, and the mac n’ cheese. (I’m salivating on my keyboard again, BTW.) Add to that a wall of old vinyls and hunting & fishing trophies above the bar and this is the bar that will make you ask “where have you been all my life?”.
Do you have a favorite bar in Old Town that I didn't include? Tell me in the comment section below!