Everyone Has a Favorite Chicago Dive Bar. This One’s Mine
After midnight, when the fancy bars have sucked your wallet dry, the classic Chicago corner dive is always there for you.
Many of these bars are called inns or pubs, not because they offer lodging or even food, but because those descriptors suggest hospitality and warmth. Rest your elbows on the burnished bar top, akimbo to bike messengers and old men, and your bartender will provide both of those things in spades. Then, over a cheap, cool pint, you can ponder why you ever dropped a hundred bucks on daiquiris bathed in the lore of Ernest Hemingway.
When I am in this state, the place I turn to is Inner Town Pub in Ukrainian Village.
There is a triumvirate of corner bars within a few-block walk in the neighborhood: Rainbo Club, Happy Village and Inner Town. I love them all but choose Inner Town because Rainbo is too obvious and Happy Village is more like a family basement. Inner Town is like a longtime friend with benefits. It's not the most beautiful, but it has an ensnaring charm.
The allure begins with the Chicago Handshake, a pint of Old Style followed by a shot of Malort, just $5 for the pair. I've been to modern bars where $5 won't even buy you a Miller High Life — but hey, did you see that the floor is made of reclaimed wood from a sunken ocean liner?
No thanks. I'll be at Inner Town by the pool table, which is worn but respectable and, the best part, free.