UPchicago Bar Crawl: Edgewater & Andersonville

I’m not sure how applicable this is to your job, but I’ll share it anyway: a bar crawl is just about the best way to become chums with your co-workers. When you write for a website, relationships are mainly via email and Facebook. So, at the beginning of crawlin’, while you might know your co-worker only by his profile picture, by the end of the evening you’ve probably gotten him or her to divulge a few secrets. Maybe a lot of secrets, depending on how strong the drinks are (see Marty’s, below, for the exact time and place that over-sharing commenced).

This was not our first time at the rodeo though, readers. Bar Crawl #4 was approached with an air of expertise and formula — which was great, because, logistics handled, we could concentrate on the drinks… er, fellowship and staff bonding. This time, we bonded all over Edgewater and Andersonville, on the far north side.

Now, I am an Edgewater resident. I have been for three years. I love it. And no one understands more than I do that we are not Uptown, nor are we Andersonville, thank-you-very-much, no matter how close my address is to the refinished vintage furniture and brigades of strollers out for brunch on Sunday. But for the purposes of the bar crawl, we expanded to Andersonville. Both areas are full of families as well as young 20-somethings, and there is a sizeable GLBT population in both as well. We tried to find bars that touched on all of these demographics that highlight the diversity of these abutting north side ‘hoods.

Moody’s Pub — Phil Kranyak
5910 N. Broadway

Step backwards in time to a basement pub during the American Revolution. Moody’s Pub is our first stop of the evening and it is an ocular feast. The dim lights reflect the outlook of the name and I get the sudden urge to warn everyone that the Regulars are coming. Instead I scan the extent and snag the large, secluded table separated from all of the other patrons. It looks like a fantastic place to craft our grievances to King George, and maybe grab a pitcher of 312. We only did one of those two things, but I am happy to note that the manuscript is quite biting.

The waitress brings us bowls of peanuts and we nosh away. Moody’s will never run out of peanuts, if the gigantic sack by the door has anything to say on the matter. Most peanutted pubs encourage you to dump the shells on the ground, but something is discouraging me from doing so. Maybe it is the eerie sense of reverence I am feeling from the roaring fire stove and the instruments and rifles on the wall behind the bar. We are convinced, if we learned anything from Shawn of the Dead, that those guns will work in a pinch if the Regulars were to storm our impromptu Continental Congress.

There is stained glass everywhere, in the windows, on the pictures, and covering the lamps. Speaking of covering everything, their menu is a nearly dead-equal spread between bar food, beers, wines, and specialty mixed drinks. Talk about a balanced diet. I take a moment near the end of our stay, burgers now consumed, corpse legumes aplenty, to sit by the fire. I am contemplative. When will I be back at Moody’s? Will I see another night inside these walls, with friends this close, before my youngest daughter dies of consumption? The Halloween decor could vanish, but the spooky feeling that comes with Moody’s would not. I take one last longing glance at our table, our momentary home, and open the front door. It’s not an easy one to close.

Edgewater Lounge — Mary-Margaret McSweene
5600 N. Ashland Ave.

Forgive me if I wax poetic on the Edgewater Lounge. It’s only one of my favorite bars in the world, and, naturally, a lot of memories are connected to it. First dates, celebrating the Obama election, two birthdays, late-night drinks and grub after roller derby. Fun times stream out of this place, and our bar crawl stop was no exception.

I remember meeting a date here once, many moons ago. When I walked up to the corner and saw the dark building and faded, barely legible signage, I thought, I might get killed here. But I walked in anyway (what does this say about me??) and realized, that yes, there would be death that night. The death of other regular hang outs, as I knew immediately I’d be back here (the budding romance also died a quick death. Remember, this crawl was about over-sharing.)

In nice weather, the outdoor patio is lovely. This is a feat as the view beyond is of a gas station, a Jiffy Lube, and a McDonald’s in the distance. But the patio is cozy and wonderful on a Chicago summer night.

The inside of Edgewater is dark, as all good bars and pubs should be, with church pews lining a few walls and unique light fixtures throughout. When you enter, you walk into a narrow space, the bar to your right, tall tables to your left. But keep walking, and you’ll find a large back room, full of tables and complete with a fireplace.

Though we didn’t chow down at the crawl, I’ve eaten at Edgewater many times, and can tell you they have decent food, both for carnivores and vegetarians. My frugal heart has a hard time telling you this, but the grilled cheese here is really good, and the cheese selections make you forget you could make it at home for cheaper. They even have soy cheese for the vegans, so you’ll know as early as placing your order if this date is going to work out or not.

This bar loves Bell’s, so get thee to Edgewater, Michigan transplants. And, all the way from Oregon, they are also a Rogue-heavy bar. In fact, if you are having a hard time deciding, ask for the Rogue sampler, which is what Phil did. His two cents on that? “It was fantastic!” You heard the man.

Marty’s — David Frankel McLean
1511 W. Balmoral Ave.

I have spent plenty of time attacking the eateries, antique shopping and coffee shops of Edgewater and Andersonville, but the bars have eluded me. I realized this with a pang of guilt, but then drinking is a fickle animal and traveling more then 10 L stops for a booze cruise isn’t always practical. So I accepted my assigned bar on random, finding the name Marty’s to be fairly unassuming. Believe me, Marty assumes.

Marty assumes you’re a cocktail person. It’s called a wine bar, but all I see are cocktails. ‘Up’ cocktails that is; powerful and mostly sweet. Marty assumes you’re a couple or you’re gay. This is Andersonville after all, it’s a fair assumption. Marty assumes you’re patient. The bartender was also our waiter and he doesn’t rush his drinks, shaking one at a time. All told, Marty assumes you’re not on a bar crawl because his drinks are not meant for swift consumption. My Dirty Bird is all I could ask for from a dirty martini including blue cheese stuffed olives and his own custom vodka distilled. The vibe is fancy comfortable and it lulls us into the danger zone as Jackie’s chocolate martini forces her eyes back into her head.

Mary’s Rec Room — Jackie Berkery
5402 N. Clark St.

Ok, yes, the chocolate martini was strong. Yes, David, things began to get a little hazy. We’ll leave it at that. Next stop was Mary’s, where maybe I should have had a water, but please, this is a bar crawl.

Eight large flatscreen TVs line the walls, which makes the Rec Room a great place for watching your team’s game. Though Rec Room bills itself as a sports bar, it’s got a bit more going for it than your average sports hangout. Old art is scattered throughout the bar, including prints of the second World’s Fair in Chicago and mosaic-covered posts.

Mary’s is also in the business of brewing. Yep, that’s right — they brew their own beers right in the bar. Beers change seasonally, but some of the current options include the Blonde Bombshell Organic Golden Ale, Mary Hoppins Pale Ale, Gangster Hopped-Up Amber Ale, and Busta Nut Brown Ale.

Another local plus? Mary’s is really into sustainable eating. Their menu’s tongue-in-cheek motto states that you are what you eat. That means they serve animal proteins that contain no growth hormones or antibiotics, and all meats come from suppliers who practice humane treatment of farm animals. So, you not only can feel good about what you’re drinking, but what you’re eating, too.

Two thumbs up for the super friendly bartenders and servers, who indulged my drunken tendency to chit chat for much longer than necessary. As fellow service industry workers, we agreed that a place is only as good as the people who work there and the people who come there. The Rec Room scores high on both counts.

I’ll be back… whether to inappropriately get smashed on a Tuesday night, or to relax and sip a beer with friends while playing pool. But probably the first one. With vision hazy and inhibitions gone astray, we continued on…

Farragut’s — Gene Wagendorf III
5240 N. Clark St.

The fine bartenders at Mary’s and Marty’s set the bar pretty high and, well, got at least this writer fairly buzzed. That’s one of the nice things about a bar crawl: the crawl part. The fresh air on the walk to Farragut’s revitalized the troop and in we went.

The crowd at Farragut’s, if three can be a crowd, was definitely not on a bar crawl. And they had definitely not been revitalized by any fresh air. A few grunts and groans were cast in our direction, but to be fair it was a Monday night and maybe these were just regulars trying to enjoy a quiet drink and catch the football game. We ended up ordering a pitcher of Leinenkugel, which I can say with confidence is an order that sums up Farragut’s.

While I resisted the urge to hit up the jukebox — the natives were already restless — I couldn’t resist the chance to shoot some pool with David and Phil. Any bar with a well-kept pool table gets a gold star in my book, and this more than made up for the less-than-inviting staff/regulars.

The time came to move on and so we all slammed the rest of our Leine’s as Jackie gave the bar a special goodbye. Time to take in another hit of fresh air before heading to Simon’s.

Simon’s Tavern — Tessa McLean
5210 N. Clark St.

Immediately upon walking into Simon’s I feel we’ve intruded on a neighborhood dive and disrupted their usual low key Monday night with our loud and energetic end to our bar crawl. Simon’s has been around since 1934, and the decor pays homage to the Swedish roots of Andersonville. Apparently the bar was modeled after a steamship and with all the viking, Swedish, & Norwegian paraphernalia, I guess I see it. Though we came on a relaxed Monday evening around 1am, the friendly bartender told us to come back on an evening with live music. A very long bar dominates the space, with only a couple tables and two couches. Nothing too fancy in their beer selection, they mainly stick to the classics here. Though if you’re a fan of Woodchuck cider, they have about every variety.

Also, before writing my review of Simon’s I consulted their website and discovered this gem… “Simon’s has an ongoing, unadvertised bar contest: if you can spot the five hidden animals in the lodge mural across from the bar, you can drink for free during the entire evening while wearing the [viking] helmet.” WHAT?? That’s awesome. I have to go back soon…

Map it out:

About UPchicago Team

Urban Philosophy is a way of thinking that you develop when you’re a true city person. Whether you’ve spent your whole life living in Manhattan, or you just moved from small-town Iowa to the city of Chicago, the longer you stay, the more you come to understand what it means to live in a city. Our Urban Philosophy is that no matter who you are, where you are from, and what your likes and dislikes may be, there’s something for everyone in city life.

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