There's just something about a well-worn pub that rustles up the civic nostalgia in a person. As the oldest operating tavern in Chicago, Marge's has had its fair share of footnotes: mixing gin in a backroom bathtub during Prohibition and, more recently, staving off the condo development that left the place shuttered for four years.
Built in 1885, the interior still sports the requisite stained-glass lighting fixtures, beveled window and antique wooden bar from its inception, but with an ancient wooden sign secured onto a crumbling brick fašade, it's the awkward exterior of this corner tavern that truly bellows with the boom of days gone by.
After founder Marge Lednick's death, the tiny neighborhood haunt lay dormant, waiting for the city to grant a liquor license. Its July 2007 opening brought longtime customers running back, only to discover that their favorite dive was no longer a dive at all. The name had been changed to Marge's Still, and the changes didn't stop there. Vintage elements of the interior were lovingly preserved and complemented with upgrades like tin ceilings and honeycomb floors.
The now upscale American menu features Kobe beef burgers named after Chicago neighborhoods, a lush selection of salads and appetizers that couldn't be further from bar grub. The Gorgonzola chips are the standout small dish on the menu, with tender racks of rib flanking the higher end. Drinks here tend toward the pricey side, but knocking back a few inside a piece of Chicago history makes the cost well worth it.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: K. Tighe