Wilde Bar & Restaurant, 3130 N. Broadway, Chicago

March 27, 2010

Wilde Bar & Restaurant

Wilde Bar & Restaurant


There is no shortage of faux Irish pubs on the North Side of Chicago, in fact there is probably at least one on every block. Wilde is probably my favorite. The food is good and they have Delerium, which is one of my favorite Belgian beers of all time. I have a feeling that whoever decided on the name Wilde is not from Chicago or else they would have known that Chicago people say the names of businesses in the possessive or else they would have named it “Wilde’s” from the start. Maybe they were too cheap to pay for the ” ‘s ” on the sign. The funny thing about Wilde(‘s) is that probably 90% of the people who eat & drink here have no idea who Oscar Wilde was. There is a big picture of him in the bar, and the bartenders say that people are always mistaking him for other celebrities including Jim Morrison, Roman Polanski, and Geoffrey Rush from the movie Shine. The drink menu is kinda pricy, which attracts D-Bags & Plastic Paddys in the evening hours, so I usually like to visit in the middle of the day for a liquid lunch. Wilde Bar & Restaurant is located at 3130 N. Broadway where Broadway & Briar Place meet. Check it out.
Having drinks with my cousins Abby & Cici at Wilde's back in December

Having drinks with my cousins Abby & Cici at Wilde's back in December

Full Irish breakfast at Wilde's

Full Irish breakfast at Wilde's

That is NOT a picture of Jim Morrison!

That is NOT a picture of Jim Morrison!

Friar Tuck 3010 N. Broadway, Chicago

March 24, 2010

Friar Tuck, 3010 N. Broadway, Chicago

Friar Tuck, 3010 N. Broadway, Chicago


I don’t spend to much time at the Friar Tuck (or as most people say, Friar Tuck’s, since Chicagoans are infamous for making everything possessive like Jewel’s, Walmart’s, White Castle’s etc), but it is a unique place in my neighborhood so I figured I might as well. This place has been around since the early 70’s and from what I hear has not changed that much. They have their own quirky traditions, like doing a shot of Jagermeister out of the butthole of an inflatable sheep on your birthday and having a bell for people to ring after they get drunk enough to buy a shot for the house (which recently ran $200, courtesy of a drunken viking from Malmo, Sweden). The inside is cozy, with wood panel walls and a big fireplace. One thing I don’t like about this place is that about a year ago they got rid of their old CD playing juke box and got one of those new internet jukes that I despise. The crowd varies from night to night. On a quiet night, you might finding yourself shooting the shit with 9-11 truthers, Daley machine patronage (ghost-payroller) workers, Gen-Yers who just moved to Chicago and are still a few months and a few bartabs away from maxing out their parent’s Visa and having to move back home to Peoria, Cedar Rapids,Iowa, Holland, MI or wherever the hell they’re from, out of work alcoholic thespians waiting for their turn to break into the midwestern voiceover talent pool or maybe a shot at being the next Empire Carpet guy, tourists from Krakow who loved Chicago in January so much that they decided to stay until July and maybe help the local developer sitting at the next bar stool build a few condos in between trips to the Field Museum and the Oriental Institute etc. I hate drinking at the FT when it is crowded, like when they are having karaoke night or especially Guitar Hero night! On those theme night, it is so crowded and noisy that my head wants to explode. The plus side of their crowded theme nights is that if you are in your early 20’s, you pretty much have to TRY HARD not to get laid. Unfortunately for me, I just turned 35 on Sunday so on theme nights I’m what’s known as the creepy old guy at the end of the bar, so I avoid it like the plague! Oh well, like my Z-Rock t-shirt from 1987 said, “If It’s Too Loud, You’re Too Old!”
Swedish friend ringing the bell after buying a round for the bar!

Swedish friend ringing the bell after buying a round for the bar!

Birthday shot out of the rear end of the infamous FT sheep!

Birthday shot out of the rear end of the infamous FT sheep!

The Birthday Sheep

The Birthday Sheep

I guess you can make out with the sheep after your shot if you want, but I don't think it's required.

I guess you can make out with the sheep after you shot if you want, but I don't think it's required.

Yoshi’s Cafe

March 21, 2010

So sorry I have neglected this blog over the past few months! I tend to hibernate during the long and brutal Chicago winter, but spring is in the air and I have emerged from my cave. I was hungry after hibernating for so long, so one of the first things I did was head to Yoshi’s Cafe for a hearty breakfast. Yoshi’s Cafe is located at 3257 N. Halsted right in the middle of Boystown. My Aunt Jayne turned me on to Yoshi’s Cafe a few years ago because my cousins Abby & Henry went to school with the kids of the owner (yes, there actually is a real dude named Yoshi who runs the show). Yoshi’s Cafe has a lot of really good American & Japanese fusion cuisine, but what I really go there for is the breakfast fare as well as the OFF THE HOOK deserts. Today I had the eggs benny and didn’t regret it for a second. When I was done they brought out the desert plate and I decided on the chocolate mousse. I would have eaten everything on the desert plate, but summer is just around the corner and I don’t want go to the beach and have my Speedo¬† disappear by folds of fat hanging over it.
Anyway, Yoshi’s Cafe is opened Tuesday through Thursday from 5:00 until 10:30, Friday and Saturday from 5:00 until 11:00, Sunday for brunch and then again for dinner. Call them for Sunday hours (I forgot what the Sunday hours are. sue me) and reservations at 773-248-6160.Yoshi's CafeYoshi's

Eggs Benny at Yoshi's Cafe

Eggs Benny at Yoshi's Cafe

Scrambled Eggs at Yoshi's Cafe

Scrambled Eggs at Yoshi's Cafe

Bacon & Pancakes at Yoshi's Cafe

Bacon & Pancakes at Yoshi's Cafe

Tempted by the Dessert Menu

Tempted by the Dessert Menu

Yours Truly, just as the food coma was setting in

Yours Truly, just as the food coma was setting in

James Gate, Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts

November 10, 2009

This weekend I took a trip to Boston, Massachusetts to visit with family & friends. One of my favorite places to eat and drink in Beantown is James Gate in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. The place is set up to resemble the famous St. James Gate in Dublin where they make the “Little Black Magic with the Creamy White Head”, AKA Guinness. James Gate is divided into two sections, a restaurant side and a pub side. I usually sit in the restaurant side when I visit James Gate, but the other night I sat on the pub side for the first time ever because there was a loud and boisterous game of Trivia on the restaurant side, of which I wanted no part of.

For my meal, I enjoyed a bowl of their clam chowder which was excellent, some of the best I have ever had in Boston, which is saying a lot because as everyone and their uncle knows, Boston is the seafood capital of America. After that, it was the meatloaf and a few Heinekens to wash down my glorious meal. Mmmmm! My dining companions had the Gate Plate, the Seafood Sandwich, and the Bangers and Mash, all of which garnered rave reviews.

If you find yourself in the Boston area and want to venture off the beaten path and away from the touristy (but still delicious and worth a try) spots like Legal Seafood and the Union Oyster House, hop on the T or the bus and take a trip to Jamaica Plain and enjoy a meal at James Gate, which is located at 5 McBride St, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130. Pub hours are Tues-Sat 11:30am-1:00am, Sun 12:00 pm-1:00 am, and Mon 4:00 pm-1:00am.

Me washing down my meal with a Heineken at James Gate in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Me washing down my meal with a Heineken at James Gate in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Stephanie & Danny enjoying a meal with me at James Gate

Stephanie & Danny enjoying a meal with me at James Gate

The meatloaf at James Gate is excellent.

The meatloaf at James Gate is excellent.

The clam chowder at James Gate is some of the best in New England

The clam chowder at James Gate is some of the best in New England

When in Boston, treat yourself to a meal at the James Gate Pub, 5 McBride St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

When in Boston, treat yourself to a meal at the James Gate Pub, 5 McBride St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Stella’s Diner

November 5, 2009

In 1962, Greek immigrants Jimmy & Stella Mavs’ American dream became a reality. It was then that they started The Lakefront restaurant in Chicago’s East Lakeview neighborhood. The Lakefront soon became a neighborhood favorite, and has been satisfying the appetites of hungry Chicagoans ever since. Sadly, Jimmy & Stella have both passed on but their legacy of great food has been preserved by their children, Gus & Maria, as well as their grandsons Jimmy & Nick. When Gus & Maria took over, they changed the name from The Lakefront to Stella’s Diner to honor their mother. In this modern era of chain restaurants with no personality, it is refreshing to be able to grab a tasty meal at a reasonable price at a place that has been in the same family for almost 50 years. Stella’s Diner has long had a reputation for being good to their employees which is why most of the staff have been working there for many years.

Interesting¬† history aside, the food at Stella’s is excellent. I can tell you from personal experience that nothing can cure a gnarly hangover quite like a Gypsy Skillet from the breakfast menu at Stella’s. The cheeseburgers are nothing short of phenomenal, as is the Greek Steak sandwich. The milkshakes are some of the best I’ve ever had in my life.

If you are in need of some great food, I highly recommend a trip to Stella’s Diner at 3042 N. Broadway, right next door to the Dram Shop.

*Fascinating Fact about Stella’s: The clenched fist clutching the silverware above the front door was actually molded after the hand of founder Jimmy Mavs.

Tuna melt with fries & a chocolate shake.

Tuna melt with fries & a chocolate shake.

Your humble correspondant giving in to the temptation of a chocolate shake

Your humble correspondant giving in to the temptation of a chocolate shake

The milk shake machine at Stella's Diner

The milk shake machine at Stella's Diner

The walls at Stella's Diner are covered with some pretty cool artwork

The walls at Stella's Diner are covered with some pretty cool artwork

The desert menu

The desert menu

Stella's Diner. A neighborhood institution at 3042 N. Broadway

Stella's Diner. A neighborhood institution at 3042 N. Broadway

The Dram Shop

November 3, 2009
Local yokels

Local yokels

One of my all time favorite bars in Chicago has got to be the Dram Shop. It is just down the street from my apartment right by Barry and Broadway. It’s glowing Old Style sign is welcome beacon which summons my thirsty neighbors and I. The Dram, as it is affectionately referred to by it’s loyal regulars, opens every morning at 7:00 sharp. The drinks flow freely until 2:00 am every day except for Saturday nights, when last call is shortly before 3:00 am Sunday morning. The daytime crowd consists mainly of older local neighborhood people who have been drinking at the Dram for years, the boilermaker crowd. At night the Dram attracts a much younger crowd, a lot of food & hospitality industry workers, students, aspiring artists & musicians etc as well as people from the daytime crowd who figured why not hang out for a few more hours. The crowd here is very friendly and welcoming, much more so than any other bar on Broadway in between Belmont & Diversey, in my humble opinion.

The Dram has been owned by Larry Heinerich since March of 2006. Prior to buying the Dram, Larry was the owner of the Bel Air over on Diversey. Larry originally comes from San Diego, and makes a point to show Bolts games on at least one of the flat screen TVs. Larry’s old surfboard used to hang on the wall, but had to be put in storage to make room for the new flat screens that arrived at the Dram earlier this year.

One of my favorite things about the Dram is the jukebox. Thankfully, the Dram has resisted those stupid modern internet jukeboxes where douche bags can pay a few bucks extra to propell their selection ahead of yours. The Dram’s juke has everything from the legendary metal gods such as Slayer, Motorhead, old-school Metallica, Sabbath etc to old country favorites such as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and David Allan Coe to the King of Pop Michael Jackson. The Dram also has a dart board if you crave a friendly game of darts. One of the top selling shots at the Dram is Mallort, a local Chicago shot that not many are familiar with. Drink prices here are far more reasonable than pretty much any other bar in the neighborhood. PBR cans are $2 at all times. A bottle of Heineken is $3.75. You can’t get a bottle of Heineken for less than $4.50 anywhere these days!

To sum it up, if you find yourself walking the streets of East Lakeview & you crave good booze at a reasonable price and you want to hang out with a down to earth, completely non-pretentious crowd while listening to cool tunes in a place with that old Chicago neighborhood tavern vibe, the Dram Shop, is probably just what you are looking for.

Dram owner Larry gets ready to pour a few shots of Mallort

Dram owner Larry gets ready to pour a few shots of Mallort

Regulars hanging out at the Dram on a weknight

Regulars hanging out at the Dram on a weeknight

Dram regular John enjoying a cold one

Dram regular John enjoying a cold one

DSCN0530

Yours truly playing a few tunes on the juke

"The Dram Shop"

The Dram Shop