Continued proof that you don't need to be located on a major street or smack-dab underneath an L platform, the Fire Escape has been serving drinks to the locals for years. Around since 1984, the current incarnation of G&L (which stands for the intersection of Grace and Leavitt Streets) is a small, one-room tavern packed floor-to-ceiling with fire department memorabilia.
Owned by a trio of retired firefighters, the place caters to a working-class environment and post-work warriors. A well-stocked, L-shaped bar takes up most of the space while a handful of tables, stools and a serve-yourself setup for chili, stew, hot dogs or whatever else, fills up the rest.
Packed with helmets and hoses, bells and brass poles and a Backdraft movie poster, the neighborhood joint is bright, friendly and happy to still be around to offer $2 Miller cans and $3 domestic bottles every day. Order your Old Style, and the bartender will ask you, "Do you want it in a bottle or a can? Glass, no glass?" That's the kind of selection I like to see.
Not so much fire-kitsch as it is a collection of a career serving the city, the décor can get a little overwhelming as everywhere you look is something CFD: From pictures and commemorative street signs to hijacked bus stop signs and an actual fire-engine door, it only serves to reinforce the fact that you're not hanging out in some pre-fab, pop-culture clearinghouse. These guys have created a firehouse away from home.
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars