The Whirlaway Lounge (Bar, Logan Square)

Location: 3224 W. Fullerton Ave.
Phone: (773) 276-6809

Don’t let the name fool you, the Whirlaway is not exactly what you might expect from a place that dubs itself a ‘lounge.’ This, my friends, is a dive bar. (Of course, in only the most positive sense of the word.) The place is nothing fancy, but that’s part of its charm. You’re not gonna find any local craft beer flowing here, but it’s not that kind of place anyway. In fact, the bar doesn’t have any beer on tap, but fear not: there are plenty of bottles to choose from (over 40, in fact), and domestics are just $2.50 every night. Most of us went with the quintessential Midwest dive bar beer, a good old-fashioned bottle of PBR.

Once we had our beers in hand, it was time to stake out a spot and settle in for our last bar of the night. And that’s when I saw the bookcase — stocked with not only an interesting array of books, but also a mountain of board games. Scrabble, Connect Four, Boggle… they were all there and ready for the choosing, likely depending on your group’s intoxication level. There’s nothing like ending a night with a good game of Apples to Apples, so we went for the classic and snagged a spot at one of the few small tables in the bar.

The Whirlaway has been around for quite some time, and has been family-run since 1980. It’s definitely a “mom ‘n pop” type place, with owner Maria manning the bar every night, chatting it up with the regulars and getting to know the first-timers, always with a big smile on her face. And while the atmosphere was certainly welcoming to a couple of newbies like us, it was clear there was a large roster of regulars. Photo collages decorate the walls, covered with drunk happy people I presume to be Whirlaway enthusiasts. In fact, one of the guys sitting at the bar told me that he was in a few of the pictures, taken years ago. A super friendly place, if you ask me.

Wondering where the name came from? The rumor goes that the original owner put bet on a horse that wasn’t favored to win, but eventually became the triple crown winner. With a good-sized hunk of change as his winnings, he opened the bar and named it after the winning horse: Whirlaway.

Upon leaving I felt the urge to say “thank you” to Maria, as if she were our host for the evening (or at least the last hour of it). I’ll definitely be back to hang out on the well-loved couch and play a game of Jenga, while picking out select tunes from the great jukebox selection. The Whirlaway is a keeper.

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Jackie Berkery

About Jackie Berkery

With a strong phobia of cubicles and those three little words (“nine to five”), I am thrilled to be working on UPchicago from the comforts of my own couch at three o’clock in the morning. I love to write. I love Chicago. Hello, dream job!

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