photo: Courtesy of Nick Flandro
Every neighborhood should have a bar like Nilda's. Tucked into a quiet corner of Ukrainian Village, this unassuming building might just be the most inviting place in town. Although its simple interior leaves a lot to be desired, no one could possibly accuse the sweet, generous Nilda – the owner for over 20 years--of running a dive joint. When Nilda gets talking, there's little hope of stopping her, not that you'd ever dream of it. Born in Puerto Rico, this lady has lived a fascinating life, and her patrons benefit from the wisdom of it. Her stories and effervescent personality keep them coming back.
This low-key spot is prime for a pick-up game of pool. Before racking 'em up, it might be a good idea to punch some random keys into the jukebox. Ranging from the nostalgic to the utterly obscure, the selection offers up something for everyone.
Bottled beers and well cocktails reign supreme--but once people spot the bottle of Malort behind the bar, the bitters begin to pour. For those unfamiliar, Malort, a botanical liquor in the vein of Fernet Branca, has a noxious, over-powering kick. Conceived in the Windy City after prohibition, the bottle carries a warning about its putrid taste, and Chicagoans are the only ones who will go near the stuff. Malort translates to artemisia absinthium in Latin. That's right: Absinthe, thujone-packed wormwood juice. But since most people can't swallow the stuff, the hallucinogenic effects remain elusive. Thankfully, the charms of this bar do not.
Centerstage Reviewer: K. Tighe