By day, a less-than-average greasy spoon; by night, a make-shift strip club, Lake and Union Grill & Tap at 666 West Lake Street seems like the perfect setting for a David Lynch movie. Until Mr. Lynch discovers this West Loop
hidden gem, it will remain best known as the mediocre diner where past-their-prime working girls give $10 lap dances Tuesday and Thursday nights.
If you're looking for a really great diner in the West Loop, you're better off heading to nearby Lou Mitchell's. The food at Lake and Union is pretty sub-par – greasy gyros, burgers, and steak sandwiches make the grade – and the service, or lack thereof, requires you pick your meal up from the counter when it is ready. Nonetheless, the regulars at this joint stand vehemently behind it. You're likely to see the same local office employees at lunch, blue-collar construction workers during cocktail hour, and bleary-eyed, hangover cases come the weekend.
Why do they keep coming back? For one, it's a good value. In addition to the $10 "entertainment," most meals cost under $9. More importantly, however, Lake and Union's ugliness (a brick eyesore from the outside, one half of the interior is crowded with dumpy vinyl booths, while the other has been done up in a tacky Greek décor) makes it the sort of place you want to nurture - it's got a face only a mother could love. Plus there's a certain excitement, like at Winkies in Mulholland Drive, that something sinister is going on behind the scenes.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Amanda Nyren