Tons of places are described as a "beer and a shot" place, but how often do you hear a bartender come up to a regular and actually ask, "Do you want a beer and a shot?" At Sky Ride Tap, the bearded day-laborer didn't even bother to answer. He just waved it over with a shaking hand and lifted the glass of Rumpleminze to his mouth, sipping it and working his buzz into the early afternoon.
It's an interesting mix of blue-collar workers and traders (the Chicago BOT is a stone's throw away) at the Sky Ride. Tourists shun it, students don't even seem to know about it, and most other Loop denizens simply pass it by. Some are here for an early start to their evening, others seem content to finish themselves off by way of the bar's $2.75 domestic bottles. Hidden underneath the L, it's easy to wander by, but step inside and enter what seems like a noir detective film.
As the South Loop continues to revitalize and march into Daley's New Chicago, the Sky Ride seems happily stuck in 1946. The interior is dark and lit by touches of fluorescence, the bar is long, dark and made of scuffed wood. A DVD/VHS player with a stash of movies behind the bar and a few TVs are the handful of touches reminding you you're in present day.
The Sky Ride is like putting on one of your dad's old jackets. Comfy and well worn, smelling like smoke and whiskey, old and not pristine but not beat up. Throw some Sinatra on the iPod, put on your fedora and have a Harvey Wallbanger. The Sky Line won't blink twice.
Centerstage Reviewer: Karl Klockars