Located just north of the Rush/Division scene, the Zebra Lounge is an anomaly in that area: A piano bar that prides itself on being hard-to-find but welcomes anyone lucky enough to make their way in. Hidden in a residential building, the Zebra Lounge barely holds 45 people, but doesn't really get hopping until after midnight when a few fire codes are probably violated. The crowd varies in age and gives off a come-as-you-are vibe. The servers are friendly and understand the value of the occasional term of endearment like "honey" or "sweetie."
Walking in, you'll notice a mirrored bar that takes up one side of a room that's dominated by zebra patterns, from the lanterns above the bar to the light switch in the bathroom. Call it kitschy or retro if you like, but it feels real, as if the interior designer was fired in 1976 and the position was never again filled.
This is the perfect bar for a cocktail or glass of wine, but Bud products are available along with a few decent imports. For those who want to really live it up, the drink menu offers $200 bottles of champagne as well.
But the highlight of the Zebra Lounge is the music. Like any good piano bar, the performances there are more about giving the people a good show than hitting all the right notes. The repertoire on any given night stretches from Beatles and Johnny Cash covers to the Chicago Bears fight song and back to old standards.
Centerstage Reviewer: Scott Smith