UPchicago Bar Crawl: Humboldt Park
If I still had any hidden doubts deep down inside me about my role on the UPchicago team, they are no more. I’ve finally achieved the top tier goal for any UPC writer: I organized a bar crawl. I’d decided that since our humble little site has little content on the nightlife in the ever-popularizing neighborhood of Humboldt Park, why not knock ‘em all out in one go? The ‘hood still holds some of the connotation that word implies, but cheaper properties than its Logan Square and Wicker Park neighbors mean more interesting places are sure to come along (not to mention the more than occasional art galleries we passed by are always the first sign of a gentrifying neighborhood). Barely able to tear ourselves away from the $2 whiskey / cokes at Division St. Bar and Grill, we eventually made it to 4am at the Continental. Along the way we hit up quite a variety of places, each destined to be a new favorite in its own right.
Division St. Bar and Grill – Molly Tranberg
2525 W. Division St.
Just five blocks west of the bustling Damen & Division intersection, this gem is tucked far enough away from the rest of the Wicker Park scene to escape the crowds but close enough to join them after a few drinks.
Speckled with small tables and a few booths throughout, Division Street Bar & Grill is a chill response to the nearby Wicker Park scene. In the summer, Division Street Bar & Grill opens the wall of windows facing the street, so grab a table near the front and kick back with a cold one and enjoy the view. Before you make the trek to Humboldt, be sure to check out their website—they have some killer daily specials (especially those 2for 2’sday mini-burgers). With a respectable bar menu and a food menu full of fried goodness, Division Street Bar & Grill is a great stop to satisfy those beer munchies or kick it with friends and split an appetizer (or three).
With a relaxed atmosphere, friendly servers, a nice breeze streaming through the open windows, music provided almost solely by The Shins, and dirt cheap dining and drinks, Division Street Bar & Grill provided us with a place to sit back with a cold beer (or whiskey) and watch the sun set before heading to our next location.
California Clipper – Gene Wagendorf III
1002 N. California
The Clipper is red. Very, very red. And there’s never a cover. And they make a mean Brandy Alexander. That really is all you need to know. I mean really, who makes a Brandy Alexander?
We dropped into The California Clipper on our Humboldt Park Bar Crawl, grabbed a comfortable booth and a stack of board games. We settled on The Worst Case Scenario Board Game, which was filled with questions about how to fight a bear, treat snakebites and use nature as a compass. You know, the kind of things urban life doesn’t really prepare you for. If memory serves me correctly (when does it ever?) Tessa (shocking due to her distaste for the outdoorsy lifestyle) and Molly (Unfair, she’s from Michigan. They don’t even have paved roads there) jumped out to a massive lead. As there were only four playing pieces, Andrew and I formed Team Boi!, only to be quickly left in the dust.
Our game (read: series of comically wrong answers) was interrupted by movie night, which takes place every Tuesday. This retro bar (originally home to a movie theater) has been open since 1937 and features plenty of great live music from all genres. Throw in a friendly staff and excellent drinks and you’ve got a wonderful place to relax on a weeknight.
You can read more about The Clipper’s place in the neighborhood, as well as get a taste of the live music scene here in David’s review.
Rootstock Wine & Beer Bar – Jackie Berkery
954 N. California
As its name might suggest, Rootstock is a neighborhood beer and wine bar, opened by three former employees of Webster Wine Bar in Lincoln Park. With a focus on local farming, sustainability, and small-batch craft beers and wines, this Humboldt Park locale is a welcome retreat for the west side — and was an interesting addition to the crawl.
Rootstock is a one-room affair, with a small street-side patio open for seating in the summer months. The motley collection of tables and chairs is charming, placed alongside larger wooden communal tables. The lighting is dim, but the atmosphere is energetic and eclectic.
The beer and wine lists are extensive, yet approachable. And if you need help the friendly and informative staff is there to walk you through the options. We satiated our mid-bar-crawl appetite with a small cheese flight garnished with pickled fruits. YUM. The ambiance was subdued and classy — much unlike our current bar-crawling state of mind. We kept the crazy under wraps for a beer, though, and then headed onward.
Though I wouldn’t necessarily tack this place onto another bar crawl, it’s a great date spot — for either a romantic evening of dinner and drinks, or a leisurely Sunday brunch.
Archies Iowa Rockwell Tavern – Tessa McLean
2600 W. Iowa Avenue
This dive bar is perfect for drinking cheap beer and partaking in a game of Candyland and Jenga. Which is exactly what we did. Surrounded by wood paneling and sparse decorating, take a seat at a table or belly up to the bar. We could tell as we walked in that this place is always full of regulars who come back every time for the combo of cheap beer (they have Hamm’s!) and good company.
They allow dogs and give away free cheese puffs — what’s not to love? Pool and darts are free. Though I didn’t play around on the jukebox, I heard it’s a great one. They usually have something random playing on the wall via projector. Archie’s is the perfect place to have a couple beers with close friends, and relax like you’re at home in your living room.
Beetle – Andrew Hertzberg
2532 W. Chicago
Forgetting that bars do have to close at a certain hour, we hastily made our way from boardgame fun at Archie’s to the Beetle just before last call. Formerly the Black Beetle, this bar was pretty much emptied out by the time we got there. From what I can tell though the place has some swell deals to reel the locals in. We happened to venture in on taco Tuesday, which means $2 tacos, $3 Tecate and $4 Cuervo (so that explains why I was drinking Tecate). Since it was the end of the night, we all opted for the deal, but the bar does boast a national and international list of fifty bottles and standard drafts from Bell’s, Lagunitas, Three Floyds and more.
None of us had a chance to try to the food, but I’m not sure where else in Humboldt you’d be able to find a Nicoise salad; might be worth a try. A variety of sandwiches, pizzas and burgers fill out the rest of the menu, most of which seems standard bar fare. Monday night is for trivia (prizes are concert tickets you say?) and there seems to be a decent deal for each day of the week. If nothing else, grab a Point and a Powers for $6. And the advantage of the Beetle’s location is when the last of last calls is called, it’s just a short walk to…
The Continental – Gene Wagendorf III
2801 W. Chicago
And so our group of Humboldt Park Bar Crawlers reached their final destination: The Continental. I’m excited to report that this time Mr. Hertzberg and I weren’t alone in our 4am escapades, as the lovely Tessa and Jackie decided to stick it out and join us for another beer.
Given the name, I expected The Continental to be a bit more like The Clipper, an old-fashioned bar with a laid-back attitude. The bar wound up being more modern looking, but still comfortable. The large leather booths provided a great place to sink in, down one last drink and plan the trip home.
The DJ was spinning a lot of oldies, which scores massive points in my book. I recall a few Motown selections as well as some Beatles. The crowd was a mix between groups of bros and grungy looking rockers, and was pretty buzzing for a late Tuesday night (Wednesday morning?). Drink prices are about average, which is all you can ask out of your 4am-er.
While not necessarily spectacular enough to make it a destination bar, it’s a great late night option in an area where there aren’t many other. The Continental also gets an extra gold star for the attentive bartender. She shot back and forth like a pinball, making sure no one had a long wait despite the crowd.
Eventually the girls left Team Boi!, and we opted for one more drink. Which turned into two more, which turned into another great end to another great bar crawl.
UPchicago Bar Crawl: Humboldt Park in a larger map