Harry dislikes the downtown bar scene with its pretentious people and late-night hours. Ultimately, a few drinks and some decent conversation are his only expectations before making his way home to rest. Babe's, a Portage Park blue-collar bar that's ruled the block for many moons, delivers the goods, so he visits often.
Twenty years back, some of the current patrons tended bar. Others who've been patrons for 20 years recently became bartenders. Sam Belpedio (known as Babe since birth) owns the bar, while his son Gerry runs the show. If the brick-wallpaper walls could talk, they'd probably tell stories of the many bands that played, the Elvis impersonators brought in as entertainment and how a taping of Jerry Springer once took place. However, you could just ask any one of the patrons with a passion for conversation.
Jimbo describes Babe's as an "everybody knows everybody, Cheers kind of bar." Harry, jokingly calls it a "Cubs bar" (White Sox pennants, posters and logos actually overwhelm the room). A long bar lines the entire length of the space. The ever-popular Golden Tee arcade game, along with a jukebox, sits unused. Most guests focus their attention on the news, sports games or game shows playing on flat screens behind the bar.
Harry admits that neighborhood bars appear unwelcoming and dull but recommends them to anyone. "You come to this place to find out the neighborhood events. You may not hear about someone's home getting broken into on the news, or a fire, but you'll hear about it here," he says.
At this beer-and-shot bar, enjoy a bottled beer ($2.50) or tapped mugs ($1.50) alongside a bag of potato chips ($1).
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez