Marie's Golden Cue announces itself to passersby on Montrose Avenue with a bright yellow sign with an empty marquee below. All the marquee really needs to say is what you already know: pool tables inside. Beyond that vital piece of info, there's not a whole lot to this no-frills, Albany Park pool hall. Marie's has 18 full-size tables to choose from, most of them empty during the day. Patrons pay about $5 per hour, depending on the hour and number of people on the table at one time. If you're waiting on a table or just need to take a break, a limited arcade can entertain you for a while.
With its old ashtrays and older hot dogs, Marie's has the festive dinginess that one comes to love about a good pool hall. Even in the daytime, a certain dimness dominates the room, which makes a better atmosphere in which to hide your shame after scratching on the eight ball. In addition to the hot dogs, you can grab yourself a bag of chips or a Gatorade to cool a parched throat, but you'll have to go elsewhere for a full-fledged dinner. (Not to worry, there are half a dozen great options within a two-block radius). Marie's maintains no pretension of fanciness, operating, quite simply, as a great spot to pick up a cue and shoot some stick.
Centerstage Reviewer: Patrick Corcoran