One of the many things we wanted to do was visit Intelligentsia in Chicago. Having been to all three outposts in L.A.; Venice, Silver Lake and the new Pasadena store, I was excited to visit the motherland shops. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the original Intelligentsia. Instead, we found ourselves in a small shop, just off of Millennium Park. Visually, it wasn’t as cool as the L.A. ones but we were hoping the coffee would be the same.
Although the baristas were as knowledgeable as ever, my latte and my friend’s mocha were served lukewarm. Eh? Now, I understand you shouldn’t drink coffee piping hot (you can’t taste the flavor) but lukewarm? Oh no.
53 E. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601 – 312.920.9332
Moving on, at least I found the booze plentiful and in many forms.
On our first night, we went to Publican for dinner and then headed to the local dive bars. We were like Goldilocks looking for the perfect bar. First we popped into Richard’s Bar which was too bright, too hot and full of people who stared at us. Granted, it was probably because it was about 50 degrees and I was dressed for a snowstorm.
Next, we chose to pop into Emmit’s Irish Pub. It was a maybe. I saw a giant butterfly sign across the street and we decided to check it out. It was nearly empty but the bartender was super friendly. We stayed for the cheap craft beer and enthusiastically mixed cocktail, Apple Jack (made with organic unfiltered apple juice and Jack Daniel’s). The Butterfly Social Club shares owners with neighbor Funky Buddah Lounge. They invited us over but we weren’t into the music so we went back to Emmit’s where I enjoyed a Jameson and soda for the cheapie price of $5.75.
We had one other bar to check out, Matchbox which was in an old train car. Our bartender Colleen gave us plenty of recommendations and made a mean Manhattan. I loved that it came with a friend (extra in the shaker). For a Thursday, it was a bit of a slow night. It was nearing 2 a.m. and we decided to check out one last place. For some reason, last call is staggered in Chicago and we were heading to a 4 a.m. last call bar; the Underground Wonder Bar.
There was live music, a group of regulars, a friendly barkeep and interesting bottles of booze for me to look at. I didn’t have anything fancy here. It was well beyond that point in the night. I kept it simple with bourbon and soda.
My picks are definitely Matchbox and Underground Wonder Bar for low-key “locals” bars.
770 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622 — (312) 666-9292
Underground Wonder Bar
10 E Walton Pl
Chicago, IL 60611 – (312) 266-7761