The Lincoln Square area is just lousy with bar food: With Bad Dog Tavern, Wild Goose, The Grafton and so on, you can't swing a keg line without hitting a plate of jalapeno poppers. Thankfully, 42n Latitude ups the ante without a dramatic increase in price or pretension.
Good luck finding your standard bar apps here: Choices include an antipasti plate, queso fundido and steamed mussels, all in the $6-8 range. If you just feel like stopping in for a burger and a beer, you won't be disappointed, but you won't get the norm: The $8.50 half-pound hamburger uses house-ground beef, and gets a special marinade treatment that gives it a distinctive finish. Entrees change seasonally and prices are more than reasonable; nothing crosses the $20 boundary. (Wednesday's buy-one get-one entree special knocks the tab down even more.)
The beer list matches favorably to the menu–a couple macrobrews are on hand but more often than not the taps are populated by rotating selections from microbreweries. The weekend brunch pairs savory skillets with sweeter selections like spiced carrot cake flapjacks with a cream-cheese vanilla sauce.
Bottom line: If you want a first-date restaurant that won't break the bank but will still impress your soon-to-be significant other, this is the place. The bar area's ample open space prevents any crowding at the booths or window-side tabletops; the outdoor patio, open in summer months, looks right onto the library and Welles Park. The dining room is similarly themed: comfortable, spacious and casual without sacrificing its class.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars