With its third location
in Chicago, Small Bar is now a bona fide chain. But the brand isn't compromising – even in the nexus of one of Chicago's biggest college neighborhoods, they're not dumbing anything down. The ever-present 11-page beer menu is alive and well here, offering choices from around the country and world. No less than 23 beers are on tap, and not a Bud or Miller to be seen. Local options from Two Brothers and Metropolitan share the bill with selections from Lagunitas, Lindemans, Surly and Konigshoven.
The bar is also keeping true to the rabid soccer fans that have always supported it – soccer and rugby matches play on the TVs, and jerseys from USA and Chicago Fire stars hang alongside club scarves. The massive mirrored bar is also present, just in case you need to keep an eye on a particularly good looking hooligan you saw out of the corner of your eye.
In terms of food, the bar offers slightly nicer takes on your usual bar grub. Fried Wisconsin cheese curds battered in Beamish stout and honey mustard sauce ($8) and the Ale Bender Chili with Schlenkerla Rauchbier-braised beef ($4 for a cup, $6 for a bowl) can serve as a snack with your beer or a starter to the full plates. Burgers ($10-11) run the gamut from normal, veggie, garlic-y or just decadent (the Bacon Jam includes caramelized onions, brie and bacon jam made in house). Or most house pizzas will run $14, including a white pizza with olive oil, garlic and wild mushrooms in truffle oil and (more) bacon.
On weekends, the bar offers some unique brunch options – a biscuit duo with hash browns on the side (including options like an egg, chorizo, jalapeno, Siracha aioli and pepper jack cheese biscuit) runs for $7, or the artery-sealing Sinful French Toast (two cinnamon sticky buns topped with mascarpone and caramelized bananas) for $9. While they don't advertise any mimosas or Bloody Mary specials, it might make the perfect time to see what skillet pairs best with a Framboise.
Follow Small Bar on Twitter.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Dan Morgridge