photo: courtesy of Bridget Cicenia
"Tavern" is an archaic, ancient word for a place that sells food and drink, particularly of the alcoholic variety. "Pippin" is a name that Americans usually give to fake British characters because we won our war of Independence 200-plus years ago and we like to kick people while they're still down. And "Pippin's Tavern" is the name of a small pub on Rush Street that has little to do with the British and much to do with being a dark, old bar that caters to the blue collar, unhealthy heart of Chicago, soaked in cholesterol and other fats.
So they got the tavern part right.
Yeah, there's no getting around it: Pippin's is dark and old, maybe even dank, but that's why its regulars keep on coming back. Who needs new age-y, pretentious Chicago when classic, old school Chicago is working just fine? As they say, if it ain't broke, don't...break it more. The walls, ceilings, floors and centered, circular bar are all made of dark, old wood that resembles the hull of a great, ghost pirate ship on its way to pillage the coasts. Indeed, the only thing that might remind you that this is downtown Chicago, circa 2000s, and not some period fantasy you've been dreaming about since the first Pirates of the Caribbean, is the Golden Tee Live arcade installation; that or the line of six hi-def, flat screen televisions that show everything from ESPN to Jeopardy. Also, instead of serving grog by the mug, they serve beer by the bottle (Heineken, Fat Tire and Goose Island 312, among others) or draft (Blue Moon, Goose Island Honkers Ale, Stella Artois, et al).
Pippin's joint partner and next door neighbor, Downtown Dogs, handles the food side of things from the titular hot dogs ($3-$5) to the Italian beef ($4-$6.70) to the hamburgers ($4.55-$5.45) to the sandwiches ($2.20-$6.60), and that doesn't even include the appetizers aplenty! Don't eat too much of this fat-fried food, though, or your heart will look as nasty, literally, as the heart of Chicago, figuratively.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Benjamin Andrew Moore