Remember: "I" before "E," except in Budweiser. James T.. "Smash" McKenna - Sage of Keegan's Pub on 10618 S. Western Ave., Pipe Coverer and Leo High School Class of 1989.
I wandered to the North and parked on Chicago Avenue; as my appointment with a beautiful woman was an hour off, I wandered these foreign streets. The Heavens opened and the tears of angels darted down soaking what's left of my once thick mane of hair as well as my seer-sucker suit from Cox's. I sought shelter from the storm.
Tucked between Chicago Ave., the Ogden Corridor, and all of the angle streets that make a south sider's head explode in confusion, is a gem of a Chicago Neghborhood Saloon - The Chip Inn. The guts of place look much as they do in the black and white photo above.
This is an ethnic working man's country club that survived Yuppies, TIFS, Urban Renewal, Ferns, and Hipsters. There is street parking - good luck on that score, Boys and Girls - and room at the bar for gents who who still stand when soaking the tonsils. That is the time-honored manner of quaffing drink in public and a vanishing exercise in deference to tradition.
On this particularly raining day, I sought sanctuary and quality sarsaparilla - both at the Chip Inn in what is called the Noble Square neighborhood. Chicago's Estimable Bar Project offers this summation:
Chipp Inn: Chicago Bar Project:
"Though many mistakenly think it's located in the East Ukrainian Village, Chipp Inn is actually located in Chicago's Noble Square neighborhood, just east of Eckhart Park at the corner of Greenview and Fry in Noble Square. I've actually seen larger intersections when two back alleys come together... Anyhow, Chipp Inn is located in the base of an old, two-story wooden building with retro brown siding and a brick façade. The few front windows are choked with neon bar signs. Once inside, you'll find a smallish room with walls of green and a gold-painted tin ceiling from which hang old-fashioned light fixtures. A battered wooden floor matches the bar that runs the length of the north wall in the front room with high-backed wooden barstools. The area behind the bar is chockers with so much Old Style and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer memorabilia that it gives even Lincoln Tavern a run for its money. Just beyond the bar are a pair of one-seater restrooms and beyond that is a tiny pool room where a game costs a very Charleston-like $0.50, and a smattering of additional seating lies across from the bar."
Chipp Inn features a surprisingly good selection of beer, with a handful on tap and a lot more in bottles. They even advertise Hamm's and have a grab-bag special for under $2. What more could you want? Chipp Inn was actually the place where I celebrated the return of Bell's Brewery to Chicago by drinking as much Kalamazoo Royal Amber as I could get my hands on once I realized they were back in the game. Chipp Inn doesn't serve food, but you might be able to weasel your way into a bag of potato chips or a Slim Jim, they have an envelope full of delivery menus ala Guthries Tavern, and there's a very good burrito joint around the corner on Ashland just north of Chicago. On the other hand, Chipp Inn does host an annual chili cook-off every November and regulars sometimes bring in food to share. How old-school is that? For entertainment, there's an internet jukebox and a solitary, aerial TV just above the Bags machine (formerly Golden Tee and bowling) in the northeast corner of the room. Jazz is featured on Wednesdays and karaoke on Sundays. The annual spelling bee held in February provides much-needed winter entertainment, particularly as misspelled words require you to take a shot...The crowd at Chipp Inn is just as you'd expect: a mix of young-ish, neighborhood Bohemians as regulars, who presumably avoid nearby Five Star, with its flashiness, and West Town Tavern for its steep prices. Cash is the only form of currency accepted here (and no ATM on the premises), but that shouldn't be a problem as the booze is cheap, just don't expect anything fancy. Strangely enough, Chipp Inn also hosts an annual spelling bee for adults every February – it's just like those for kids, except that everyone is old and loaded.
Not much is known of Chipp Inn's pre-Prohibition roots, but it is said that its legacy as a neighborhood tavern dates back at least 100 years. One can easily see why Chipp in is so beloved by those who know it, as it has everything you want in a local: a relaxed atmosphere, good beer selection, pool, jazz, and cheap—minus the bullshit all to common elsewhere. While other bars catering to the latest fads come and go, the Chipp Inn just keeps on keepin' on. For more information, you'll have to call Chipp Inn as they don't have a website.
More importantly, in this sad and staggered economy Chip Inn seems kind on the purse and pocket. There are the precious hand-crafted draft beers, but also the working man's cans of Old Style, Hamms, Pabst and the venerable Blatz! All offered below $3.00 and several at $1.75.
The bartenders were pros and amiable young ladies and gents who directed sundry inquiring trenchermen to the best Cuban sandwiches on Chicago Avenue. This is a place where Dad and Mom strolled to for a Sunday afternoon Cold One.
832 N. Greenview Ave. (800N, 1500W)
Chicago, IL 60622
Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss. ~Robert Heinlein