I don't actually go to gay dive bars in Boystown for the booze; I go to watch porn or the Food Network. Thankfully, at Little Jim's I never have to choose between these two great pastimes—they play both simultaneously. With Brady-Bunch-era Formica coating the tables and two tap selections to choose from (MGD or Miller Lite), Little Jim's is something of a late-night "dive thru," a place you visit when you want to keep your Dixie whistlin' after other hot spots have closed.
Drinks are cheap and mostly domestic, except for the stray Coronas that somehow made it past homeland security. Try the London Tea, made with gin, tea and lime juice, "the way the Queen drinks it." At thirty-five years old, Little Jim's has not lost its youthful vitality. Pinball games ding in the background, and a vending machine will fulfill your hygienic or carcinogenic compulsions (M&M's, pocket tissues, Tic Tacs and cigs). Free condoms and mojito-flavor gum are also up for grabs.
On Wednesday and Thursday, it hosts a Bacardi Lottery where you can win anything from free drinks to gift certificates (I won a $10 bar tab!). A magical rhythmic buoyancy blankets the bar like a vintage feather boa; "I often feel like I'm in Willy Wonkaland," said one local patron. Despite the pencil drawings of beefy bears (burly, hairy gay men, not the animal), or perhaps because of them, Little Jim's retains a certain abrasive allure. But don't expect a mint on your pillow or a lock on your bathroom door.
Centerstage Reviewer: Anna Pulley