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Feb 20, 2009 12:40 PM

What bars do people go to while they're waiting to get into the Violet Hour?

Hi All - We're heading to the Violet Hour after dinner - will probably get there around 11. I have no hope that the wait will be less than an hour, but the website says they'll call your phone when seating is available.

Does anyone have suggestions for good bars in the neighborhood to ride out the wait? We're not from Chicago and don't have a clue.

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  1. Depending on what time you're eating and where you're eating, you might want to consider just putting your name in before dinner. If the wait is 2-3 hours (which it sometimes is) you might just get that call as you're finishing up dinner.

    Of course, you'd be taking a bit of a gamble with this strategy, but I guess showing up at 11 and putting your name in is a bit of a gamble too.

    1. A five-minute cab ride or 12-minute walk away is The Map Room (on Armitage, one block west of Damen). They have one of the best beer selections in the city, and it is billed as a "travellers' tavern" (whatever that means).

      A shorter walk away (about seven minutes) is Club Lucky on Wabansia, an old school-style italian joint. The bar there might be a good place to wait, and they serve a good martini.

      Closest option may be the Tavern on the northwest corner of North and Damen (never been in there, but it looks clean and my guess is they have a good beer selection) -- my guess is it's the antithesis of Violet Hour though.

      The Milwaukee/Damen/North intersection is pretty busy, and there are plenty of other bars/restaurants within walking distance where you could hop in and grab a drink.

      Hope that helps.

      1. No offense to Tavern lovers, but I've never taken a shine to the place. Clean it might be, but the raw-meat market atmosphere makes it difficult to swallow my drinks , especially when half-sputtering out my beverage after hearing some of the cheesy lines being tossed around. Across Milwaukee and down the street, you can find Rodan, which is my favorite pre-gaming VH spot. They have hitachino beer, which is why I find reason enough to stay. Their mixed drinks aren't terrible expensive too.

        1. any irony in the fact that you are looking for a bar to go to, while you wait to get into a bar?

          1 Reply
          1. re: jmeitus

            Tongue firmly in the cheek as you order from the pre-bar before VH.

          2. I really love The Bluebird ( at 1749 N. Damen. It's the perfect complement to Violet Hour, since it specializes in beer and wine, leaving the cocktails to the true mixologists at VH. Further, I am consistently disappointed with the food menu at VH -- predictable, often too greasy or heavily-sauced, and a letdown compared to the beautiful beverages. The Bluebird has delicious bar food. This Metromix review says it all better than I could:

            "The owners of Websters Wine Bar, the popular Lincoln Park hangout, have branched out with this gastropub. The stylish interior is rustic-industrial, featuring salvaged lighting fixtures and reclaimed wood -- even the bathroom doors come from a shuttered Catholic grammar school. The beer menu is extensive, with about 50 selections that put small-batch, hand-crafted brews in the spotlight. (But yes, there's a decent wine list that even oenephiles will love.) The food is better than what you might expect (and cheaper, too): light bites, salads, flatbreads, individual meats and cheeses, and thoughtful entrees. This is natural pick for a midweek hangout, or an easygoing weekend destination."

            Enjoy (and don't miss the Dark and Stormy at the Violet Hour afterwards)!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kaelin

              To the OP: Did you have the pousse-café at Violet Hour? What did you have and what did you think of it?