Located along the far western edge of Bridgeport a few steps from the Chicago River's south branch, Herman's Gem-Bar Lounge and Grill is one of the oldest drinking establishments in the neighborhood. Open since 1920, today the Gem-Bar is noted for its casual atmosphere and tasty pub grub. The interior is all warm forest colors and wood-paneled comfort, with a long oak bar, a jukebox, a dart board, a pool table and the now-iconic images of a toothless and bloody Bobby Hull and Mike Ditka flipping off a cameraman. Toward the back of Gem-Bar is a separate dining room for folks who don't want to scream over the din of televisions and music.
The food at Gem-Bar is surprisingly good. Workers from the nearby Pilsen and Bridgeport industrial corridor flock here for pizzas, sandwiches and buffalo wings. The chili mac here is some of the spiciest you'll ever eat. Wash it down with a $2 draft of Pabst Blue Ribbon, served in a frosted mug. If you have refined tastes, Gem-Bar also serves nice imported selections like Okocim and Zywiec Polish lager. Sundays feature $2 bloody marys.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Chuck Sudo