A friend of mine interns for Chicago Magazine and was given the responsibility of visiting some the best-rated dive and LBGT-friendly bars in the city. As a dive bar connoisseur (self proclaimed) I immediately jumped on the opportunity to explore the 4 & 5 stars of hole-in-the-walls. Our first stop was a basement bar in Lincoln Park called Galway Bay.
The neighborhood of Lincoln Park in Chicago, at first glance, is a beautiful neighborhood. I love Chicago for its architecture so the areas I've seen are beautiful in a modern architectural sense - Clean lines, new windows, red brick entry ways and tri-level condos for 500k. The neighborhood also (and this is my OPINION) is one of the less gay-friendly hoods I have visited and is more so an area for young professionals and early thirties couples. Straight couples. So I wasn't particularly thrilled at the idea of spending my night with bro'skies but I did, in the name of exploration! Plus he gets two drinks per bar comped. Pick your battles.
Regardless, Galway Bay is nestled in the bottom of another building (maybe a bar/snackaurant). And by nestled I, of course, mean its in a basement. If you didn't know it was there you wouldn't know it was there, kinda thing.
Immediately when you walk down the stairs into the exposed brick atmosphere you feel a little like Norm is going to greet you with a pint and "hey how are ya?"
Galway had two bars - a central, circular bar (just like its Cheers counterpart) and a back bar with the big TVs and pool table. When I was there a group of, you guessed it, 29-32 year old guys were screaming at the game while enjoying $2 PBR. Ladies to the left spent there time throwing darts and I sipped a 312 and snapped a few photos.
One of the more signature parts of the bar is located in the front, near the main entrance and main bar. A messy, equipment-cluttered area houses a few TVs, microphones and amps, and a Nintendo, SNES, N64 (more systems in boxes) and every game, controller, and accessory you could shake a stick at. We didn't play but if you like drinking an playing Duck Hunt on a 50 inch TV, you might want to check out this spot. They MIGHT even have Zelda.
Overall I liked this spot. As dives go it was clean, the people didn't act a fool, there was enough space to walk around without standing chest-to-back and it seemed like the type of joint where you could easily learn your bartenders name and vise versa.
I'll give it...
3/5 Mario & Luigies
. I'm tempted to go 4 but I can't set the bar too high just yet.