Our elders wax nostalgic about Old Town in the late '60s and early '70s, a nucleus for hippies, folkies and performers. The Second City improv troupe was grooming the soon-to-be internationally famous comedians John Belushi, Bill Murray and George Wendt, who were regulars at the Ale House across the street. Young professionals outnumber artists in the more polished twenty-first century Old Town, but the "lavish dive bar" continues to serve a steady rotation of neighborhood folks, famous and otherwise, as it has since 1958.
History continues to be made at the Ale House, much of it documented in framed caricatures, a faded mural of famous clientele and a jumble of snapshots displayed behind the bar. The atmosphere is divey but inviting. Friendly, attentive bartenders dispense Old Style and PBR drafts before a jam-packed collection of knickknacks. Over the back corner table is a makeshift library of used hardcover novels, although the lights are rather dim for extended reading.
As the neighborhood's best known after-hours establishment, you'll be hard pressed to find a seat on weekend nights after the Second City shows let out. A jukebox boasts a selection of jazz and soul standards that quite possibly hasn't been updated in decades.
Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak