Brigadoon (Bar, Portage Park)
Location: 5748 W. Lawrence
Nightlife in Portage Park is almost an oxymoron. My ongoing search for decent bars to hang out at and still be stumbling-distance from home brought me to Brigadoon and, well, the search may finally be over.
The first thing I noticed on my initial visit to Brigadoon was how nice it was. It’s not a swanky lounge by any stretch, but it’s one of the few establishments in the area that looks to have been updated since the late ’70s. A long, polished wood bar is home to some decent draft beer (5 bucks for a stein of BBK), as well as a Jager-on-tap contraption that seems completely frivolous until you order a shot of the sinful syrup at a damn near subzero temperature. Totally necessary.
I look for a few things in a neighborhood bar: a pool table, a jukebox and a friendly staff. Check, check and check. The back of the bar has a small game room which plays host to a well-kept billiards table, two dart boards and an old-timey cigarette dispenser. They charge something like 11 bucks for a pack of smokes so I’ll never use it, but it’s nice to know it’s there. An internet jukebox is a nice addition for a bar that would probably risk alienating a younger crowd by only hosting the albums the regulars dig. Conway Twitty isn’t exactly my speed, and the crotch-rock stylings of Kid Rock that the more youthful locals dig isn’t much better. So yay for compromise!
As for the staff, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer group of human beings. The bartenders seem to have been handpicked from a farm where they grow pleasant and patient ladies and the owner has never been afraid to chat, regardless of how much more sober than me he might be. The real superstar however is the pool-shark barback. If you see him offering advice to your opponent you should probably immediately threaten violence, ’cause you’re about to lose.
Just a short walk from the Jefferson Park Blue Line station, even the cool kids from Logan Square can hang out and still get home quickly. Like at any good neighborhood bar, Hawks and Bulls games are always up on HDTVs and domestic bottles will only run you a few dollars. There’s usually a decent crowd on weeknights and the place fills up on Fridays and Saturdays. For those so inclined, Brigadoon is also host to dart and pool leagues. Just in case you like to get serious.