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Tuesday, March 5

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Andrew / July 10, 2006 1:15 AM

You know, your local place hardly anybodyy goes to. Nothing special, no Zagat rating or Metromix review, just a good little place.

Mine is the Double Bubble, in Edgewater. Just a bar, but it's got cheap beer and a pretty good jukebox.

Nick / July 10, 2006 1:29 AM

This award definitely has to go to Taste of Lebanon. The square footage is minimal. It looks like they haven't changed anything about it in 20 years. But they manage to make some of the best and cheapest kebabs around. Excellent.

amyc / July 10, 2006 6:09 AM

Mary's Cafe on Grand and St. Clair. Good, greasy diner food, just a stone's throw from all the trendy but blah Michigan Ave. lunch spots. I like to go when I'm having a crappy day because I know I will never see any of my co-workers there.

When Jon Kass was writing all those columns about how the Cambridge House diner was being torn down, thereby robbing Streeterville of its last "honest" plate of food, I was all like, "Dude, Mary's is only a block away!"

paul / July 10, 2006 8:16 AM

I honestly can't think of many that are still around. I'm hoping this thread will prove they're not as endangered as I think.

There's a bar half a block east, and across the street from the Map Room that I think is called Ed & Jeans. There's no name on the place, just an Old Style sign. I'm not sure it's still open though.

Just a handful of regulars (that's all that fits in the place) nothing on tap, and a pool table stuffed in a corner so tightly that you need to make half your shots with a short stick.

Tim and Bruno's lounge, and Sheridan near Loyola used to be defined as a hole in the wall, but now is crowded with students and youngsters immersing themselves in the dive bar scene.

A fairly new hole is Kitty Moon on Clark in Edgewater. Transformed from an old true hole, with a questionable license, its open mike night and music venues on the weekend will probably help this one man bar evolve out of the hole in the wall category.

j / July 10, 2006 8:42 AM

A whole-in-the-wall will inevitabally lose all claims as such once posted on the internet for all the hipsters and trendsters to see...

This is a stupid thread.


Supersick / July 10, 2006 9:33 AM

I hope I never see the word "hipster" again. Seriously--do those people really get under your skin or what? Why? I was always taught that it's wrong to make Sweeping Generalizations. Get over it.

mark / July 10, 2006 9:35 AM

l&l tavern

and can someone please change j's diaper

anthony / July 10, 2006 9:47 AM

Supersick, I could agree more. All of the labeling has got to stop. It's annoying.

Kelly / July 10, 2006 9:56 AM

I love Cuneen's, on the corner of Newgard and Devon. It's small, it's smoky, it serves Old Style (which I personally hate, but my friends seem to like it).

There's also this bar....somewhere on the west side....named, uh, Joan's? I can't remember. And the reason I can't remember is the same reason I want to go back: $2 Guinnesses.

spence / July 10, 2006 9:57 AM

Lange's and Newport Bar & Grill both on the Southport Corridor.

joy / July 10, 2006 10:06 AM

kelly- are you talking about cristina's on kedzie? though not really the west side, they do serve $2 guinesses and the bartenders are friendly and order pizza for the whole bar sometimes. nice.

fluffy / July 10, 2006 10:10 AM

About 4 years ago, I'd hang out at "Leland Land of Liquors (we cater to your spiritual needs)" which is right by the Western brown line stop. It's a liquor store with a bar on the side - it used to be a total hole, but I think they're trying to make it a decent place now. Back then it was usually me and some old drunks, one usually passed out.

I moved from that hood years ago- last time I was there, the bartender was a big 50-something year old woman with a bad bleach job- she had one of those cheesy chunky gold-plated rings that almost look like brass knuckles- it said 'grandma'.

what's best about hole in the wall places is the anonymity - no fake smiley waitress taking your order, no loud music--- just you, your drink and your thoughts. the whole "hipster" thing is irrelevant - i'm sick of that word too. Plus, i think that what people refer to as hipsters usually travel in packs, and the places i'm referring to are for loners.

Andrew / July 10, 2006 10:38 AM

j, I dare someone to try and make the Double Bubble cool. It's just not going to happen.

Cuneen's is awesome! And like the place Paul mentioned, you have to make half your shots on the pool table with a short stick.

fluffy: they're calling the bar half of Leland's "Tar Bar" now, for some reason. It has mood lighting.

Felix Heredia / July 10, 2006 10:50 AM

One word: Glory.

mike / July 10, 2006 10:53 AM

Foodwise, I'll second Taste of Lebanon. One of my friends refers to it as "the lemonade stand" because it really almost is. But great shwarmas and the best lentil soup on planet earth.

Barwise, if Simply Ray's (R.I.P.) would have qualified as a hole in the wall, it was my favorite. It's "The Rail" now ... (sigh).

spook / July 10, 2006 11:02 AM

Well, it was the Chicago Pizza Lounge aka "Packaged Goods" on Chicago and Grand before Arlene sold it to Yuppies. So I gues its Vaughn's is Nola's 9th ward. Word has it that she survived the hell and high water

Bill V / July 10, 2006 11:05 AM

I'll take the Hole In The Wall, Austin, TX. For Chicago, all the tiny places I used to stop by have been demolished or turned into swank joints. L & L is pretty cool.

J / July 10, 2006 11:21 AM

The Sovereign (Bar) on Granville and Broadway is the consummate hole-in-the-wall. It's a dive in every sense of the word boasting cheap drinks, a great jukebox, cool bartenders and free billiards. The crowd is always random and diverse, making the atmosphere even more inviting. Check it out!

Supersick / July 10, 2006 11:25 AM

Sorry, I was so revved up I forgot my pick:

The Bel-Aire Lounge. The guy that owns it also owns Christina's in Logan Square (which , as has been mentioned, has $2 Guiness). But the Bel-Aire is a classic. It has that kind of atmosphere that makes you think of the fifties and buzz cuts and TV dinners and imitation wood panelling. It's awesome.

Oketo / July 10, 2006 12:01 PM

Guthries on Addison - not sure it counts as a hole as it's not terribly grungy, but goes unnoticed by the throngs of backward cap wearing, staggering, simple-minded Cubs fans. Maybe that was a broad generalization... maybe not.

e_five / July 10, 2006 12:15 PM

Going to Gino's North at 1111 W. Granville is a little bit like having a mildly disturbing drug hallucination. It's small, dark, sometimes stinky, there's a mirror, an oddly curved bar, a television constantly spitting out the most inane programs available at any particular time, a giant Roman statue, and they have the surliest service in town-- almost like the don't want your business if they don't know you from way back. Their pizza is actually pretty good.

I also like Bruno's, Soverign, and Cuneen's in that general area.

JasonB / July 10, 2006 12:20 PM

Petro's on Randolph and LaSalle. The food isn't that great and I'm not too crazy about the service, but the cooks are quick, the place is almost always empty and the prices are relatively cheap considering it's location in the financial & theatre districts. I'm there every saturday for brunch.

slb / July 10, 2006 12:30 PM

christina's is the awesome. but it's not in logan square, it's in albany park.

monkey / July 10, 2006 12:32 PM

Cal's in the loop.
Ollie's in edgewater.
Ronnie's on California.

jonesybot / July 10, 2006 12:56 PM

I like Resi's Bierstube as a hole in the wall type experience. The greatest thing is that they have a fabulous outdoor area that cannot be seen from the street.

I have such nostalgia for this place, as I spent many childhood nights here (yes, I was the "who brings a kid HERE" kid).

But now as an adult, I can appreciate it's "the bar that time forgot" charm.

d4ve / July 10, 2006 1:02 PM

John's Place for a Czech beer.
if ya don't know, i can't tell ya.

laura / July 10, 2006 1:28 PM

i like the cork lounge on addison right off the brown line. never all that crowded, fairly cheap drinks, pool table, and the old polish lady knows me even when i'm not in there for months. and it's a stone's throw from my back door. perfect.

laura / July 10, 2006 1:28 PM

i like the cork lounge on addison right off the brown line. never all that crowded, fairly cheap drinks, pool table, and the old polish lady knows me even when i'm not in there for months. and it's a stone's throw from my back door. perfect.

Beth / July 10, 2006 1:33 PM

the gold star on division, if it still there. A hole in the wall of gentrification

michele / July 10, 2006 1:46 PM

I will give props to Taste of Lebanon too. Love the falafel wrap!

leah / July 10, 2006 2:27 PM

i cannot help it sometimes.

Mikey / July 10, 2006 2:27 PM


I've seen two nods to The Sovereign!

I enjoyed a 6-month stint as a bartender there roughly seven years ago. That place really was (still is?) the penultimate shithole-in-the-wall...

One time, I had to clean up after a long-retired (and effed-up) Navy admiral had explosive diarrhea and didn't quite make it to the restroom in time. Gagging and dry-heaving the entire time while mopping up, I knew my days working there would be numbered...

Back then, none of their patrons were the type to post on sites like Gapers Block, that's for damn sure!!

leah / July 10, 2006 2:28 PM

leah / July 10, 2006 2:29 PM

what I mean to say!

insert glory hole joke here


ivy / July 10, 2006 2:47 PM

My apartment.

p / July 10, 2006 2:48 PM

T's Tap.
F it- the whole East Side.
Yes, the east side is my favorite hole in the wall.
And the LakeView Tap (I think) on corner of sheffield and grace? Live country pickin' and good times. I was approached at a urinal there by a trenchcoated hillbilly who told me I seem alright but "don't be tellin' all my hipster buddies bout the place." So take this, hilljack. (Hillbilly= sweeping generalization for the ages)

april / July 10, 2006 2:53 PM

Innertown Pub. The crowd is always so friendly there. Hungry Brain is good, too.

Kelly / July 10, 2006 3:10 PM

"kelly- are you talking about cristina's on kedzie? "

Yes, that's it! Great place.

I used to love Ghareeb Nawaz for hole-in-the-wall food, but then they poisoned never again.

Emerson Dameron / July 10, 2006 3:14 PM

Rothschild's, baby. A great place to take the friends you don't want anymore.

I'm also a fan of the Blue Light, with its delicate balance of cops, hardcore meth casualties and loveable staff.

jennifer / July 10, 2006 3:26 PM

Ola's on Damen between Augusta and Walton is the very definition of hole-in-the-wall. Cheap drinks (however the carryout selection is quite pricey), boisterous Polish bartenders who are often WASTED, loud and obnoxious patrons, super-smoky and dusty and dirty and smelling very much like a basement, Old Style AND PBR on tap. I quite like it.

Mike H / July 10, 2006 3:58 PM

I'd say I'm split between the Two-Way Lounge (RIP) on Fullerton and Milwaukee and the still-open Whirlaway.

missmolly / July 10, 2006 4:31 PM

emerson - the tap room at rothschild's was forced to close due to a new condo development's owners association. jerks.

mike h - the two way is closed? offically? i was up that way the other night and they looked open to me!

my favorite hole is this little place near central park and milwaukee that has a buzzer on the door to get in. has a red awning and an old style sign...not sure on the name. $1 beers

NSH / July 10, 2006 4:46 PM

The Sexty Sex Club (formerly the Sixty Six Club) at 66th & Western

Blagg the Axman / July 10, 2006 4:47 PM

My favorite hole in the wall is one that I shall soon pass through. During my palaver last week with M’yrrgh, Hag-Queen of the Great Bog, the old witch agreed to tell me how the Dark Lord Kayne might be defeated. But in trade, I must first steal into the fortress of the Knights’ Counsel and retrieve an artifact—her enchanted Eye, torn from her face decades ago in a duel with the long-dead knight Sir Gilles. It sees still, she tells me, though its field of vision is limited to the interior of the steel box within which it is locked.

I now journey to the Knights’ Keep, where I will look for a reddish rock jutting from the bottom of the castle’s western wall; it marks the secret door that will give me entrance to the fortress of the knights, now corrupt and twisted by Kayne’s evil power. That hole in the wall will be my way in; after I acquire the Eye, the ax will be my way out.

Brian / July 10, 2006 4:47 PM

Standees in Edgewater (Broadway and Granville near the Red Line stop).

The best biscuits and gravy in the country served with a surly attitude by a lifer waitress....mmmm, biscuits and gravy. If you're there long enough, you can smoke a cig without even lighting up.

christy / July 10, 2006 4:51 PM

Yango's --
a true dive at Broadway and Surf, serving the best ever chicken gyro with yogurt sauce. And one night, feeling down, I went in, and the owner said "Hey, where you been? It's nice to see your face again." I've lived in that neighborhood for 15 years. Yango's has been there longer. I love 'em.

Amy / July 10, 2006 4:53 PM

Rossi's. I used to go there after my overnight shifts at 7:30am or so and always see the same few stop before before their day started. Miss those days

Alex / July 10, 2006 5:18 PM

This one!

Or...maybe Podhalanka on Division. It's cheap, it's yummy, it's all homemade.

Mac / July 10, 2006 8:16 PM

The Ho--Rogers Ave @ Winchester

Gallaghers--Greenleaf @ Clark

My Place-- Touhy @ Seeley (?)

Ricky G's-- Western @ Touhy

CHEAP beers and little/ no crowds.

Brandy / July 10, 2006 9:48 PM

Hee! Though I'm not a barfly, it's comforting to learn I live in the Hole-In-The-Wall epicenter - Edgewater!

For the diner angle, I like Little Corner Restaurant at Thorndale and Broadway. Little ambiance, but good, friendly service and cheap, consistent diner food.

snuh / July 10, 2006 10:14 PM

sterch's on lincoln! it's between webster and lincoln; it's easy to miss in the midsts of barleycorns and beaumonts. it makes sterch's existence all the more wonderful.
"your mom used to drink here."

Spook / July 10, 2006 10:48 PM

Godspeed, Blagg the Axman, Godspeed to you. At the end of you're journey, you're next mead is on me

Taylor / July 11, 2006 1:41 AM

The Hungry Brain is definitely my favorite can look it up yourself if you want to go there though. It's worth it for the good jukebox and cheap drinks. Galway Bay on Diversey east of Clark a bit is good if you are forced out in LP and need a decent place to go to. It's never crowded on weekends, also has a great jukebox and it's hard to beat the $1.50 Pabst.

That's all I've got...I'm going to have to give this Taste of Lebanon a shot, though. Sounds great.

Marc / July 11, 2006 8:00 AM

Not all of them are holes in the wall but here is a map of some places my chums and I enjoy/frequent:

Needs to be updated.

stackedbrass / July 11, 2006 9:36 AM

May not 100% qualify as a total dive, but I love the Gallery Cabaret. Friendly owner/bartender and really great music. I also really enjoy Cal's on Wells and Van Buren.

Carlos / July 11, 2006 11:26 AM

Gold Star used to be a good "hole-in-the-wall" but I haven't been there in years so I don't even know if it's still around.

dan / July 11, 2006 11:51 AM

The Oakwood on Montrose and Damen. A dodge-y looking lobster and ribs place by day. A dodgier 4am bar at night. Christmas lights, bad 80's airbrushed posters upon wood paneling, and GnR on the jukebox. Sheer bliss.

TaJ / July 11, 2006 12:31 PM

for food -
it used to be hema's kitchen on indian, hema & family hanging around, plastic plates, styrofoam cups sometimes, semi-slow service...but well after check please appearance....totally revamped + second location...
so i guess there's something to be said for making things popular..but change is unstoppable..

i'm not a smoking kind so still looking for a bar can walk into and not feel like total outcast if you're not a regular patron...

J/City / July 11, 2006 12:36 PM

Carol's, up at Clarke and Wilson(or so).

Also, to whomever mentioned the Oakwood, I used to live right there and walked by it many times without realizing it was a 4am... only went there once the whole year I lived there!

Hungry Brain is also excellent, whomever mentioned it. Green Eye as well. Beachwood Inn.

Mike H / July 11, 2006 1:12 PM


Last I heard, they were closing or going to close or something like that. It's been a long time since I was there.

mike-ts / July 11, 2006 8:41 PM

The Matchbox Bar. It is a pie-wedge shaped building (my favorite shape of building, for whatever reason, since I first saw one, but anyway...) that you walk into ok, but as it narrows down, if you choose to sit that far down at the bar, you have to turn sideways to keep going. And if people have to pass behind you, you might have to get off your stool to let them by. Of course, the bathroom is at the point of the pie wedge, so after running the gauntlet to get there, you have to make sure you're facing the right direction when you go in - am I going to face the toilet, or sit on it.

It has one of the most crowded bartops that I've seen (with bottles, I mean), and they make some really good martinis.

The crowd there's pretty relaxed - there's no room to throw a punch if you wanted to, so you have to get along. If you're with someone you want to cuddle with, great, and if not, well, you're going to be snug with your neighbor anyway, so shrug and relax. You're here to drink and enjoy it.

jgs / July 11, 2006 9:27 PM

apropos of nothing:
it seems odd that days after the trib published their worst case scenario guide for the CTA, a pretty bad scenario goes down on the blue line.

I Prefer Vodka / July 12, 2006 12:02 AM

1. Harry's on Elston
2. EZ Inn

Benjamin / July 12, 2006 11:19 AM

Amen to the Oakwood on Montrose. It's so bad, it's good. Although I would never eat there.

Marilyn / July 12, 2006 12:56 PM

The Fifth Province in the Irish American Heritage Center. Not exactly a hole in the wall--more like a hole in the converted high school--but very well hidden from the general population. Good food and booze, and sometimes the live music is great. A good place to get lost to.

JT / July 12, 2006 1:26 PM

It's not a dive, but I used to love hanging out at Cafe Fresco on Grand Avenue some ten years ago. Just a decent local bar with a few good food items, a great guy who owned it, and at least one smokin' hot bartender with whom to flirt.

Ahh, those were the days indeed.

Ted / July 12, 2006 2:22 PM

The Lighthouse, on Chase. I could give you the address, and you STILL couldn't find it.

Jay / July 12, 2006 3:22 PM

The hole that leads the Blue Line riders out of the smoke-filled tunnel to fresh air and daylight.

annie / July 12, 2006 4:51 PM

When I was a kid I loved Snackville Junction on Western Ave. It's not exactly a hole in the wall, but it was very greasy. I had ballet lessons next door and was always promised a treat if I would go to ballet. Your food is served to you on an electric train. They've moved to 87th Street, but I haven't been. Don't want to ruin the memories of the original. Also on the southside is Wonderburger on Kedzie and Top Noth on 95th.

Eamon / July 12, 2006 4:53 PM

Rossi's was the last time I had a hot dog, the L&L is the only bar I've ever bought a round for, and I had the Galaga high score for at least a day at the Sovereign. Good times.

Amy / July 12, 2006 5:25 PM

I used to live down the alley from the Oakwood.

People really have inane conversations at 4 am.

According to my sister they have excellent chicken soup. The owner will also help you find an apartment if you're new to the hood.

I love LeSabre. Food, eh...Staff, fabulous. The only place I know where a woman can go from a waitress to an assistant to a State Rep.

Spook / July 12, 2006 9:05 PM

are you kidding the Gallery Cabaret is a total dive though, but a dive all the same
Cal's is a great dive as well

Rich Hotaling / January 24, 2008 12:08 AM

Wow, Somebody say Cuneen's? Blast from the past... early 1980's remember going to that place before going to Tut's on Belmont.. Space Place on Fulton Market and seeing King Crimson at the Park West!

I think they always had Guiness too??


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