The Rail, a CTA-themed sports bar in Ravenswood, is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that runs a little short on nightlife. Located a comfortable half block from the Damen Brown Line, The Rail is a convenient place for locals to stop on their way home from work. Daily food and drink specials attract the thrifty, and the Sunday brunch speaks to the hung-over and hungry. Most of the sandwiches and salads on the menu cost around $8, with brunch prices around $5. Eggs benedict and griddle pancakes aside, the highlight of brunch is easily the bloody Mary bar, which offers all-you-can-drink bloodies, concocted from an inventory of more than 60 ingredients, for $7.50 ($3.50 for a single serving).
The Rail's two fireplaces and 11 flat panel plasma TVs give this sports bar a more upscale feel, but the beer can collection lining the walls keeps it one thankful step short of pretentious. In fact, the extensive beer selection, jukebox replete with '70s and '80s hits, and the non-stop sports programming give this "upscale sports bar" more of an upscale frat-house feel. The 42" TVs play all the sports you can handle, resorting to sports news and professional bowling when the more popular games aren't on.
Even if a sports bar isn't your thing, The Rail is worth a look just for the arty photographs of the L at the front and back of the room. Brick walls, cement floors and exposed ceilings, combined with a jukebox set at ear-splitting volume make The Rail a little noisy, though perhaps befitting for a joint named after Chicago's biggest outdoor conversation killer. But with a menu that includes a textbook array of bar eats (whatever your chicken wing- or potato-skin craving, you'll find it), The Rail is a comfortable choice for a beer, a burger and a game of darts…especially on Wednesdays, where the burger and domestic beer combo will run you a slender $3.50.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Aimee Hall