Truly a landmark and Chicago Institution, the Billy Goat is the quintessential city diner. The flagship at 430 N. Michigan is actually on Lower Michigan. This adds to its mystique and legend but even more pronounces its originality. Endlessly copied and famously spoofed on SNL, this is a pub that could provide Chicagoans with genuine pride of their city, if that pride and character were still intact.
The Billy Goat symbolizes everything that Chicago claims to be, and in fact once was. A curt civility, a straight-forward and bold attitude, a relentlessly stubborn self-justification. Chicago's ostensible nature lives on in very few remaining manifestations, but the Billy Goat is a patently clear one.
The food itself is as good as its kind can be, and the aura of the room is an actual aura, not manufactured or marketing-designed. Chicago lore covers the walls in the form of newspapers and photos, and also walks the floors. A prototypical Chicago native is always to be found here, sitting at the full bar or eating at the counter like an arch-representation of this town's past itself.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Adam Payne