The kind of bar where you walk in and immediately think, "I wish this place was in my neck of the woods," Rockwell's epitomizes the perfect local joint. If you're lucky enough to live close to the Rockwell Brown Line
stop, you can enjoy the spot's comfortable, unpretentious and casual vibe without traveling far from home. It offers inexpensive (which is a lot different than 'cheap') fare and a personable, friendly staff to boot.
Rockwell's also keeps things clean (as in virtuous, not tidy, though that applies, too). The family-owned restaurant became 100-percent smoke-free well before the ban went into effect. It cooks up the menu's American fare with trans-fat-free oils and crisp, fresh ingredients; if they choose, diners can pick from healthier sides, like corn and black bean salad, instead of fries to pair with an award-winning, half-pound Angus burger. Other winners on the menu include a Southwest chicken sandwich, with jalapenos, guacamole and pepperjack cheese, and the Bourbon Street Tacos, with scrambled eggs, andouille sausage, peppers and onions, available during the weekend-only breakfast.
Beer and wine options include rotating bottle selections, a Three Floyds brew on draft and a nightly special or two, which changes often and you can find written on the board outside. Historical Chicago photos and vintage advertisements decorate the thin room, and the grill offers outdoor seating during warmer months—should you choose to pretend you're a neighborhood resident after all.
Average cost: $21-$30
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars