Blackie's has been at its Clark and Polk location for more than 60 years, back when Printer's Row
actually had printers and the Dearborn Street Station was more than a relic. Now, as the South Loop becomes cool again, Blackie's can cash in on its persistence, without being accused of jumping on the bandwagon.
Unlike a lot of "been here since…" places, Blackie's doesn't look all that old. The space is big and bright, and everything was remodeled a few years back. A few old signs hang above the entrance and framed photographs and prints hang on the brick walls. Along the shelf that spans the area above the bar is a long line of ceramic hands, each displaying a selection of bottled beer—a mildly unnerving but friendly image. Despite its new interior and quirky details, though, the place simply feels old.
The food is what you'd expect from an old bar and grill: pub grub. Lunch and dinner menus feature the usual greasy suspects, along with a few Italian treats, and a decent-sized breakfast menu is available in the morning (later on weekends). If you're there early, an omelet comes highly recommended while lunch and dinner crowds tend to like the "best-ever" burgers. Although the place has hosted a lengthy list of celebrities — from Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra to Muhammad Ali and Dennis Hastert — the food here isn't quite as impressive as its history. Still, even as it ceases being the only bar in the neighborhood, Blackie's remains a popular spot that's likely to stick around another 60 years.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Mac McCormick