A Clean, Well-Lighted Place...
So, I've been in Chicago nine months and I haven't found my perfect bar. I need your help.
When I lived in Dallas it was Lee Harvey's (think about it). A ram-shackled house in a desolate, industrial part of town, surrounded by a large fenced in yard, picnic tables, fire pits, and hammocks. Everyone brought their dog, and at night they'd have live music or relied on a killer jukebox. Food was simple and good, honest burgers, steak frites, great cocktails, and buckets of Shiner.
When I lived in Vegas it was the bar at Bouchon (the Keller outpost). A clean and refined place, without stuffiness or the air of superiority. Delicious wines by the carafe, exceptional raw bar, and much more. I never felt cramped, it was effortless and casual elegance.
These places probably couldn't be more different, except that they both felt like home. In either place I could show up in the afternoon alone, and know I could enjoy drinks in a wonderful, well lit atmosphere while quietly reading. And if I showed up at night the place would be vibrant and energetic.
Where is this place in Chicago? Where is this place for you?
The Bluebird in Bucktown! I wouldn't normally quote from Metromix, but this is about right:
"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 . . . 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)." -- Metromix Chicago
This is definitely a spot worth trying, regardless of the neighborhood you're coming from.
Alternatively, last week I was eating at The Gage, on Michigan by Millenium Park, and saw at least one happy reader enjoying a pint amongst the restaurant buzz.
Where have you been?
For me, I like the Hopleaf when it first opens at 3. Quiet, excellent beer, and the bartenders don't look taken aback if you pull out a book. Also later at night it gets lively and the food is beyond reproach. ANDERSONVILLE
I also like Ricochets and Huttenbar. Ricochet's is more old man bar with a slight undertone of hipster. This is where you can watch the game with guys who wear team jerseys without a hint of irony and drink some good quality beer. Huttenbar is a German bar with lots of light especially if get a window seat. Great people watching and Spaten. LINCOLN SQUARE