A bar-wide discussion of old karate movies is certainly not out of the question at this Wicker Park restaurant/bar, whose relaxed atmosphere sees ciggie-smoking regulars chatting it up with the bartender. But upscale accoutrements have not been sacrificed in the name of all things casual: A plush, purple leather booth lines the right side of the space, cutout circles glow on the artsy wall and a circular booth near the back sits beside a flickering fireplace.
The rear of the space hosts three booths, each curtained off in green velvet and bearing a bordello-chic, red feathered lamp. But just before things veer toward the fancy, a Ms. Pac Man machine keeps things grounded.
Of the menu's "eclectic American cuisine," the signature thin-crust pizzas are widely praised. Averaging $9 for a small and $13 for a large, I dug the Kalifornia, a melted melange of poached pears, brie, toasted garlic and mozzarella. Also on the menu: salads, a whole section for char-grilled chicken wings, burgers, pasta bowls and "Big Entrees" like the Inn Joy house meatloaf ($10.95). Of course, a full bar stands ready for filling pints and martini glasses and firing up a round of shots.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg