Within minutes of sitting at the bar in this Lakeview hang-out, you'll immediately feel like you've been adopted by the Newport Bar & Grill family. The regulars talk to you about college football, while the young bartender joins in the conversation as she makes her way around the bar. It's reminiscent of a neighborhood diner, only retrofitted with flat-screen TVs and a digital jukebox.
But if you're not too busy chatting it up with the locals, then relax, have a pint of your favorite domestic beer on draft and order a hearty meal. Newport's starters ($2.75-$8.75) include the "BIG mess," a platter of tortilla chips smothered in beef chili, topped with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and melted cheese, served with guacamole and sour cream. Too much? Then order a house salad ($4) or upgrade to the Caesar salad with blackened strip steak ($9.50). A cautionary warning though, the salads are three times the size of what you’d typically expect. So maybe you should just move on to one of the high-stacked sandwiches ($5.50-$8.50) with a side of Cajun-seasoned fries as you watch one of the day's big sporting events.
Newport embraces the feel of a neighborhood bar, and that's obvious by its no-fuss décor. An occasional Illinois football banner is plastered to the otherwise barren walls. About 10 round tables with high chairs crowd the small dining area next to a glossy, three-sided wooden bar. If the weather's warm, there's outdoor seating on the small front patio.
But people don't come here for the frills. When the bar's neighbor, a laundromat that brought in locals for a pint while doing their laundry, closed down, Newport has only seen a slight decrease in business. The bar has garnered a dedicated group of locals who continually choose this place for its low-key, friendly atmosphere – it has a type of charm many of the more crowded Wrigleyville bars lack.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kimber Solana