Nov 2, 2012

Road back from Wrigleyville

It was pointed out to me last night that I have been quite neglectful with my blog lately, so here’s my attempt to get a little caught up before I hit the road once again to New Orleans.  Fresh blogging material awaits!

Anyway, much like my friend Kent and I did on the drive up to Chicago last summer, we devoted part of the trip back to Springfield, Ill., to exploring a few more bars, taverns and watering holes along the way.

Our first stop, though, was back to the Stonehouse Pub for their Sunday Bloody Mary special.  I stated earlier that they sold us on making a return trip when we stopped on the way up, and yes, it was worth it.  Kent also refueled his recovery with a very tasty Reuben sandwich. In fact, I believe his exact quote was, “Man, that’s a tasty Reuben sandwich!”  I may be using a little artistic license here. But he did boast about it.

Onward to Lockport, Ill., which we ran out of time for on the way up.  Lockport is just north of Joliet, nestled on the Des Plaines River.  It always seems like a nice town for a pit stop whenever I drive through and am avoiding the interstate.  Based on some kind words on the Internet, we decided to try Jackie’s Pub.

Meh … nothing special here.  It seemed like a nice enough locals’ hangout, but we just weren’t feeling it.

As we walked out after one round, we heard a blues/rock cover band calling us from across the street.  There, around the corner and down the hill toward the river we found Paradise Bay, a funky tropical-themed bar with what turned out to be a really nice beer garden.  They were even serving up some barbecue outside.  It was a winning combination, so we stayed for most of a set of music and caught a second wind before hitting the road again.     

Further on down the road, we decided to explore Pontiac, Ill., on a lark.  I have to admit, there’s something about all these towns that used to thrive on old Route 66 that interest me.  If you use your imagination a little bit, you can imagine what life used to be like when everyone drove through these communities and discovered all the great local businesses that catered to them, before they were bypassed and all the gas stations and generic fast food joints began popping up on superhighway interchanges like bad pimples.  But I digress …

After a brief struggle to even find a watering hole in downtown Pontiac, we parked in front of the Mill Street Tap to give it a try.  This place was dark, smoky and appeared to be trapped in a time warp.  And so did the clientele.  But the drink prices were cheap, and the bartender and patrons were very friendly, even after a few stares that come from walking in as a stranger for the first time. 

In fact, a couple of folks at Mill Street Tap recommended we hit Bob & Ringo’s before we left town, so we did. 

Kent Argenta endorses Bob & Ringo's
Kent does not endorse the Chicago Bears
While Mill Street Tap was nice enough, Bob & Ringo’s had its own distinct character that made it stand out.  Judging by the sheer amount of stuffed animals on the walls here, this place is either a taxidermist’s dream or nightmare. 

Inside Bob & Ringo's
Add to that a nice, lengthy bar and an impressive stock of booze, and Bob & Ringo’s make my “must-return” list for future trips. 

Oh yeah, the prices at all of these places were very affordable.  One nice thing about small town and small city bars is they don’t seem to believe in price gouging. 

That wraps up my summer Wrigleyville weekend.  I still have some bits and pieces to pick up in future posts, but that will have to wait.  This weekend, I’m bound for the Big Easy.

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