With so many bars competing for business in Wicker Park
, watching the weak get weeded from the pack becomes like an urban survival of the fittest. Crocodile might be the best adapted to a long, productive existence. Its free six-inch margherita pizza with $5 drink deal and generally low prices (on one occasion, two Fiji bottled waters, two whiskey cokes, and a Hacker Pschorr were purchased for a mere $20) ensure it will survive long after other bars have gone the way of the dinosaur.
Aside from its affordable fare, Crocodile wins patrons with a hip, yet unpretentious vibe. The owners aren't too cool to exploit a theme, covering the walls with crocodile art and referring to house drinks as "croctails." Like crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks of the Nile, hipsters, backpackers, and urban professionals recline on faux-croc banquettes and recycled chairs to sip on the Jewel deNile, made with strawberry-infused vodka, champagne and strawberry puree ($7).
A pool table in the back and a lounge downstairs (look for weekly hip-hop, pop and electronic DJ nights) add versatility. You can pass a low-key night shooting pool, or dance to Michael Jackson in a setting reminiscent of a basement rec room. Either way, you're sure to return in a while to Crocodile.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Amanda Nyren