The debate over this place's proper name (it's alternately known as the Libertine and the Filthy Libertine) shouldn't be surprising; the bar and restaurant has a bit of a history of multiple personalities. First, it was Tequila Roadhouse, which moved a few streets over and became School House. The owners soon ditched that moniker and theme and turned this sexy, candlelit date-and-drink place with a 19th-century feel.
Libertine is filled with lots of seating and booths, which implies it's aiming for more of a dining crowd (the menu of New American cuisine-an abbreviated version is served until 1:30 a.m.-includes salads, pizzas and entrees like beef short ribs and gnocchi and pork belly for $10-14). On weekends, though, DJs provide the sounds from a booth on the upper level. Oil paintings hang behind the bars and booths in this narrow, two-level lounge and skulls are everywhere, from the host stand to a large wall clock. Copper, bronze and warm hues are the main colors here and the textured wallpaper and booth fabric work well with the tones. It makes the lounge feel like it has a bit of a glow, like some cool, secret basement hangout. Of course, there aren't many basements with 312, Bass, Stella and Pale Ale on tap and $8 well cocktails, but if there were, we think this one would still be in the top five.
Stop by on Mondays for "Shift Drink," when a prominent personality from the Chicago restaurant scene serves as guest bartender for the night and creates a signature cocktail for the occasion. Dale Levitski (of "Top Chef" fame) was the guest at the first event.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Maya Henderson