My friend Lu, who always knows about the North Side's best-kept secrets, first brought me to the Edgewater on a hot summer day. We sat on the patio, the sidewalk transformed into an earthy oasis by an open structure built for hanging plants. We ordered homey but not greasy bar eats and slowly drank pints of Sierra Nevada drafts for hours, without seeing a flicker of impatience from our server.
With the decor of a college-town hippie bar, a jukebox that covers the map, scrumptious homemade food and cheap microbrews on tap, the Edgewater Lounge is my destination of choice. The wooden ovular bar fills up most of the tiny front room, and inventive light fixtures add to the dimly lit, womb-like feel. The back room claims more artistry, with deep red walls, pillow-clad benches and rotating exhibits by local painters.
But it's the beer that truly wows: Anchor Steam, Kalamazoo Ale, Point Ale and Rogue Dead Guy Ale are all on tap. And while these people are clearly into their brew (the bottom of the menu reads: "Ask About our Firkin, hand-pulled cask-conditioned ale"), I've had solid cocktails here, too. I've never been disappointed by the pour or the price—always less than $5.
But what keeps me coming back is the food. Served on whole-grain bread, the sandwiches come with hand-cut French or sweet potato fries and spicy slaw. Everything is homemade, from the chili to the veggie burgers to the salad dressings, and less than $9. And just when you think it can't get better, bluegrass bands play on Tuesday nights.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Joanne Hinkel
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