It doesn't take much to imagine Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin hanging out at Jilly's (formerly Jilly's Piano Bar). After all, Sinatra's mug papers the walls and his tunes float above the heads of patrons of the club, appropriately named after Jilly Rizzo, Sinatra's friend and former manager. Straying from the thick-of-Rush-Street club scene, the piano and martini bar stays true to its classic Chicago roots. The music leans heavily toward Sinatra and swing; on Thursday through Sunday nights, robust piano man Nick Russo takes requests and occasionally allows regulars a cameo appearance on the mic.
Though the bar is known for celebrity sightings, it'll take an eagle eye to spot one through the thick crowd. Space is very limited, restricted to a small seating area up front, some seats along the bar and scattered tables against the wall. It's recommended that you call ahead to reserve a table. During the summer months, the bar loosens its belt to better accommodate crowds with an additional outdoor seating area.
One definite plus is the permanent absence of cover charges, which you'll deem an even better thing after you see the drink prices. Expect to spend $6 for an imported beer and up to $10 for a martini. The crowd is older than that of many of the bars along Rush, and the bar tends to fill up fairly early.
Centerstage Reviewer: Ann McDonald