If you grew up watching "Cheers," then Galway Bay is what you thought all bars were going to be like. Located several steps below the sidewalk, it's a place you'd probably miss if you weren't looking for it. Low lighting and a low ceiling create extreme comfort, making it seem as if the entire place is one big fireplace.
Endless distressed wood and exposed-stone walls set the tone perfectly. The bookshelves and old, cracked couches complement it, and the wall clocks and the enduring piano buff it to a shine. The bar really manages to mesh seasoned comfort and modern amenities well. There's a popcorn machine that could have belonged to your grandparents, a Golden Tee and an ATM, pool table, dart board, old-pull-lever-cigarette machine, and four or five flat-screen HD TVs. The Guinness is $5 and cans of PBR are $1.50.
The bar has been open for 30 years, and under the name Galway Bay for 10. The history is obvious the second you walk in. Weekday regulars sit two or three together and talk while Sportscenter fills the bar, or they read the paper or do the crossword as the theme from the Simpsons starts up. As the night wears on, the conversations get louder, and the TVs and newspapers lose their audiences, but the comfortable vibe remains.
Weekend nights can feel a lot different here, as the crowd gets noticeably younger and denser. The volume goes way up. Parking is a hassle, and it's a bit of a CTA bus-slog from most places, but Galway Bay is worth dropping in on. This is classic, Irish, subterranean drinking at its best.
Centerstage Reviewer: Jesse Jordan