But seriously, these are a couple of places i've ventured to recently... two off the beaten path neighborhood places in Chicago, one a farm-to-table corner pub in Lincoln Park, the other a revamped bar & decades-old pizzeria in Albany Park. While both very different, the common thread they share are their unique beer options.
Monkey's Paw is a fairly new bar in the DePaul area of Lincoln Park, just north of Fullerton on Southport. Pretty close to Beer Bistro North (formerly SmallBar Fullerton).
Situated on a nondescript corner just north of Fullerton & Southport, the Monkey's Paw looks a little mysterious from the outside, with it's windowless heavy wooden door. Inside it's very laid back and intimate in feel, small enough to be cozy, yet large enough for a good sized crowd. The walls were lined with small shelves with assorted curios and books, seemingly eclectic but part of a cohesive whole. There were dim stone/raw crystal candleholders on the tables, casting a warm glow. The angled bar along the left side had rounded corners, with a finished surface that had an interesting surface pattern.
Tap selection was all craft and had a few local gems, including an exclusive tap from One Trick Pony in Lansing, IL, Horse Collar Imperial Rye IPA. This is literally the only bar in Chicago with this beer outside the brewery. They seem to heavily support local brewers here, many bottles (and occasionally a draft) from Pipeworks, Solemn Oath, Revolution, and more. A few obscure imports i've never seen of heard of, such as Sant Erwann and Bourganel Biere de Nougat. Not a huge selection, but a thoughtfully handpicked one.
Paul the bartender chatted beer the whole time I was there. mentioning they are hosting a beer dinner with Pipeworks in about a month or so. Overall this is a bar i'd certainly return to for the rotating beer selection and cozy, eclectic vibes. The menu looked pretty nice too, featuring farm to table fare.
Moving on to a much newer spot (sort of)... Golden Crust has been a pizzeria for 35 years, but apparently the bar is only a month old. They remodeled the old space, added an enclosed patio and brand new interior.
Not too shabby for a place that used to look like this:
Heard they had 40 taps at this newly remodeled pizzeria right off the Kedzie brown line, next door to the (somewhat disreputable and gougey) Foremost Liquors.
Nondescript corner location, vestibule door and enclosed side patio rolldown doors, brick façade with a cool old pizzeria sign hanging over the sidewalk. Glad they kept that particular piece of the place. Inside the place is all new, dark wood floors that extend up and panel the wall, with hanging exposed bulbs along the south wall. Fairly small place with a dozen seats at the bar and another dozen tables. Three flatscreens above the bar and a neon ipad shaped jukebox. I could see sitting out on the patio here away from the glare of the tv's in warmer weather.
Selection here was surprising for a random corner pizzeria. 40 taps were just under 2/3 craft, with some new local gems like 18th St./Pipeworks Brotherhood, Lake Effect Fresh Coast, Revolution Anti-Hero & Eugene, Metropolitan Krankshaft, and Finch's. Plus quality regional taps like Greenbush Anger, Bells 2 Hearted, Vivant Farm Hand. Other US craft taps round it out, SN Celebration, Deschutes Chain Breaker, NH Dragons Milk, Hinterland, Grand Teton Sweetgrass, Lakefront Fixed Gear, and 2 Left Hand nitro taps. List is broken out by style and they do offer free samples of the drafts. Pints were $4.50. I asked about Rev beers and they pulled out the new A Little Crazy cans.
Out of 100+ beers, there's alot of filler here, but a decent amount of gems. Hope they hone their selection more to the seasonal/rotating craft spectrum, meanwhile there's lots of potential here. Beermenus list: http://www.beermenus.com/places/7793-golden-crust-pizza-and-tap
Service at the bar was friendly and chatty, they said the neighborhood has been pretty receptive to the beer selection. Pizza came out in ten or so minutes after it was ordered.
There aren't a whole lot of beer spots in Albany Park, let alone places with 40 drafts. Hope they can keep up the rotation and freshness on that many tap lines, time will tell. The pizza is pretty good, standard tavern style, thin crust is a bit thicker than usual but still crispy.
These are the kind of underrated hidden places that are fun to discover, and good local places to grab a beer :banned: