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Jun 15, 2012 05:27 PM

Publican Happy Hour? Other Food Happy Hours?

My partner and I are visiting from California for a few days in July and staying near Old Town. Since we're grad students, we're looking for budget eats, but we're also from the great foodie towns of SF and LA :-)

What is Publican's happy hour is like? Are there specials on food, and what are the chances of simply walking in on the early side to get a table/spot at the bar? I'm guessing a table res won't get you happy hour...

Are there other happy hours we should aim for with high quality food and a great drinks selection while saving a few bucks? We're definitely looking forward to trying your city's wealth of amazing affordable eats like Pequod's, chicago dogs, Italian beefs, Do-Rite donuts and the food court on Seven on State (doing a comparison of Frontera Fresco's SF location).

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  1. I have lived here 16+ years and I'll be interested in other responses. Chicago is not a "Happy Hour" town, although some specials do exist. Especially during the week, you can find some good deals on Clark Street just south of Wrigley Field, say Addison to Belmont. In the Loop and on Halsted north of North Ave, deals will be advertised as "pre-theater" dining, not happy hour. We went to the happy hour at Nine years ago and were deeply disappointed by the limited culinary output. Trattoria #10 might be an exception; they have a $15 buffet in the bar during the week. Rather than looking for discounts, your instincts for cheap Chicago specialties (pizza, Italian beef, hot dogs) are spot-on. Enjoy your trip!

    1. There is no happy hour at Publican as there is no bar. There are standup tables to have a beer while you wait to be seated, but if you're looking for sidle up to the bar and have a few bites, not there.

      As said by GourmetWeds, i can't think of any true happy hours that aren't up in neighborhood bars in Lakeview and Lincoln Park or at M&S which is early or late only.

      I would suggest a place like Sable or Barcito for great drinks and small plates.

      1. Former Governor Jim Thompson outlawed happy hours back in the '80's. Bars can have specials, that is, the price of a drink has to be the same price from the moment the bar opens to the moment the bar closes. That is why you will see daily specials.

        2 Replies
        1. re: delk

          Thanks all, good to know! When I lived in Boston HH drink pricing was not allowed, but bars would lure people with great food prices. Nonetheless, I think we'll be quite happy with all the eating we'll do and Publican will stay on the list!

          1. re: oniontears

            I would suggest making a reservation sooner rather than later.

        2. Discovering there is no real bar at Publican was pretty disappointing for me. They have an odd bar-like counter, but the dining surface is at chair height and when seated, you look at a wall. I was looking forward to that convivial "seat at the bar" atmosphere. Not found here.

          1. if you're into Oysters, Shaw's Crab House offers a 1/2 off Oyster Happy hour every weekday from 4-6PM. Great food and fun atmosphere. I recommend sitting in the "Oyster Bar" section of the restaurant.

            Elate (111 W Huron) also offers $1 Oysters every Wednesday evening.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Possumlad

              Thanks for the tip on Shaw's. Unfortunately, my DC doesn't eat oysters, but I'm sure I can hook him in with a fun scene. Very sad about Publican's lack of actual bar, however I jumped on the reservation for noisy communal seating!