If you're one of those "Rainbo
used to be cool before Wicker Park became gentrified" types, Pilsen's Skylark may be your savior. Although under the same ownership as Rainbo, Skylark has kept itself further under the radar, with its neighborhood-dive charm still intact.
The beer selection is surprisingly wide, with everything from $2 PBRs to slightly pricier (around $4) Guinness and Two Brothers on tap. You'd be hard pressed to find a mixed drink that costs more than three bucks.
Unlike its sibling, the bar churns out late-night meals for its thirsty customers, serving hearty portions of hamburgers, onion rings, chili, mac 'n' cheese. Whether or not you come with an appetite, order up a side of Skylark's legendary tater tots, served with an array of sauces.
In addition to cheap booze and grub, the bar reels in the regulars with bartenders who remember your drink of choice. Round booths, a Simpsons pinball machine, a photo booth and a jukebox fit for any music snob provide perfectly cozy environs. The dingy, dark dive is small enough to feel like you and your friends (or new bar acquaintances) are drinking in your living room but large enough to provide a little breathing room if a patron decides to get a little too friendly. But you probably won't have to deal with any sleaze balls at this joint. Skylark hosts a mix of older male bar regulars, artsy hipsters and UIC students, who seem to drink together in perfect harmony every night of the week.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Sarah Dahnke