photo: courtesy of Bridget Cicenia
Schaller's is like a mini version of City Hall. With the 11th Ward Democratic offices across the street, mayors Daley, Kennelly, Bilandic and Kelly were known to draft policies behind its walls. Eavesdropping on politicians since George “Harvey” Schaller opened it in 1881, it's the oldest restaurant/bar in Chicago and remains a family affair. Harvey's 83-year-old grandson Jack lives above it, running the place with his son, Jay, and daughters Jill, Betty, Sue and Kim.
An open warehouse of a place, the bar features a huge, wooden, arched door, no longer used as an entrance. A portrait of the current Mayor Daley hangs above the bar, and rumor has it there's a secret Prohibition-era peephole in the south wall door, now covered by a beer poster. On game night or during a playoff run, a nation of Sox fans is likely to spill, along with their Old Style beers, into the parking lot.
The restaurant portion of Schaller's is a spartan room with a short ceiling that feels like a Bridgeport family basement. Serving up cheeseburgers, hash browns, butt steak, corned beef and plenty of pork, dining's a casual affair with daily specials ranging from $5-$9.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant