Chicagoist's Cubs Fans Guide To Bridgeport: Phase Two- the Bars
By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 23, 2005 5:10PM
For all the talk about how Version Two of The Ballpark Formerly Known As Comiskey completely changed the landscape of the Bridgeport neighborhood, the truth is that outside of the late, lamented McCuddy’s (the bar most long-suffering Sox fans bring up as Exhibit A of the old Bridgeport nightlife: “Babe Ruth drank beers between innings there when the Yankees came to town!”) Comiskey Park/The Cell has always been a victim of its surroundings.
Where Wrigley Field has a scenic view of the lake and savvy/opportunistic businessmen (take your pick) have transformed the neighborhood around the park into Fraternity Row with extended train service on game days, attendees of TBFKAC get unobstructed views of the Dan Ryan Expressway and what remains of Robert Taylor Homes. Compound that with White Sox ownership's desire to keep as much food and drink business in the park and one can see why the White Sox, besides fielding stronger teams in the past fifteen years than the Cubs, lose the public relations battle with the boys in blue year after year.
That’s not to say that Bridgeport is completely bereft of nightlife. The reality is that the neighborhood has always been a quiet, residential area. Many of the taverns that dot the landscape are throwbacks to a time when political kingmakers held court like Solomon; the tavern doubled as social club, a psychiatrists’ office, or a currency exchange; and baseball fans from all walks of life developed the emotional ties to the team of his choosing that outlast life itself. With the continuing homogenization of the modern urban lifestyle and His Elective Majesty dusting off laws still on the books that can allow residents to vote precincts dry, the future of some of these places- places Rich Daley grew up around- could be perilous.
But then again, this is the eleventh ward and things tend to advance at a slower rate here. So grab your beverage of choice and sit back as Chicagoist offers some helpful recommendations for finding a good bar to park you carcass.
A neighborhood staple that survived the demolition of the old Comiskey Park is Schaller’s Pump (3714 S. Halsted). We struggled a bit over whether to include Schaller’s in yesterday's post about the eats- and the hash browns here are amazing- but we always enjoy kicking back a beer or three here better. Schaller’s is also a favorite of His Elective Majesty and the extended Daley clan. Catcher’s (901 W. 35th Street) is no-nonsense, shots and beers at its most basic. Regulars here rotate between the jukebox, karaoke, and live jazz during the week for entertainment
If you want to stay closer to the park, walk through the two blocks of parking lots Jerry Reinsdorf insisted on building to Jimbo’s Lounge (3258 S. Princeton). This standard themed sports bar gets sardine tight before and immediately after games and offers soem sidewalk seating to accommodate overflow. Just northwest of Jimbo’s is the inviting First Base Tavern (3201 S. Normal). The beer and shot selection bar is raised higher here- an enclosed back yard lets patrons get some sun when it's open, they make some of the better cocktails in the neighborhood, and have a decent draft selection. Any bar with Carlsberg lager on draft is worth its salt. You'll need a few of those, too: First Base has a creepy life-sized statue of the First Elective Hajesty, Richard J. Daley, in the bar.
Traveling west toward Halsted you’ll find Bernice & John’s Place (3238 S. Halsted). Also known by locals as “the secret bar” because it has no marquee, this tiny walk-up is a good place to relax, get a lay of the land, or let your meal from the adjacent Healthy Food Lithuanian Restaurant settle a bit.
Saving the best for last is the gold standard of bars- and our personal oasis- in Bridgeport. Puffer’s Tavern (3356 S. Halsted) has a beer selection that gives places like the Hopleaf a run for its money, at a lower price. Park yourself at the bar and chances are that you’ll run into some guy named Tom here- there’s Silent Tom, Tom the plumber, Tom the Cop, or Tom the piano playing teacher who hosts the Tuesday night open mic- or any one of the gregarious Puffer family. Working men and hipsters rub shoulders here constantly. We like to work our way through the substantial high octane ale selection at Puffer’s: Chimay red, white, and blue ales, Delirium Tremens, Piraat Ale, Lucifer Ale, or the Quebec-brewed La Fin Du Monde. For those with strong constitutions try a Skullsplitter Orkney Ale with a shot of Puffer’s extensive selection of single malt scotches or small batch bourbons. Puffer’s also has a spacious back patio for the beer garden habitués, a kettle-style barbecue grill that sees a lot of action during baseball season, and live music on Thursdays and Saturdays.
This correspondent hopes that the past two days have given readers a glimpse as to why we chose to stay in the neighborhood, even as Sox fans have become more insufferable while we root, root, root for the Cubbies. There are a lot of us down here. We will be at Puffer’s this weekend, enjoying a beer, taking the best that Sox fans give us, and giving back in kind.