Chicago Bar Project since 2000

Benz Beer & Oyster Bar

3937 N. Lincoln Ave. (3950N, 1950W)
Chicago, IL 60613
R.I.P. 2004

Editor's note: Benz/Benedict's has given way to Brownstone in 2004.

Benz (a.k.a., "Benedict's Barroom") is an interesting place in the tiny neighborhood of St. Benedict's. Formerly an unpretentious corner bar with live music seven days a week called the Clearwater Saloon, Benedict's has definitely taken a turn for the worse in terms of poor food, service and clientele. They offer a wide variety of seafood, beer, wine, and hard liquor, as well as an eclectic decor.

Benedict's is easy to spot with its many neon beer signs in the window (10 at last count), brightly painted yellow and green brick facade, and green and maroon "Benz" awning. When you will walk in, you will see a variety of theater and Chicago personality pictures on the exposed brick walls in a very brightly lit room. Although for some reason, the last time we were there, the front entrance was closed and we had to enter along the side. There are tables in the front, half-moon booths along the side, and plenty of seating at the bar. The bar itself is adorned with carved wooden faces, green beveled lights, and a flag for Chicago, Illinois, the US, and more importantly, Chicago sports teams. Although they have the sports flags and a few TVs at the bar, this is not a sports bar.

Benz is known for its seafood. You can find dozens of seafood appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees. The food is expensive, not very good, and the service is poor. I recommend taking in a meal at the La Carreta "Roasted Chicken" restaurant two doors down or the now-defunct Tapas Cafe & Grill across the street, and a drink at Benz' afterwards.

Benedict's offers over 50 beers on tap, 50 bottled beers, 50 wines (25 by the glass), and over 200 spirits. You can even get a sample of any three beers for $5. As you are perusing your menu and filling up with free popcorn, check out the beer tap handles hanging from the lights and the wine racks decorated with Christmas lights. In the back, they have a lobster tank, beige felt pool table, and a large Benedict's Budweiser sign. The bathrooms are also quite interesting with their winding doorless entry way, old-fashioned porcelain fixtures, interesting artwork, and a gray stone Indian that greets you.

Straight guy warning: Benedict's is gay friendly, so don't be surprised to see several gay couples and pictures of nude men in the bathroom. A friend and I had the unfortunate experience of being hit on by a gay dude that was rude, persistent, and had to be sternly turned away even after we made it clear we are both straight as an arrow. He was fortunate, because most people I know would have punched him in the face at first crack.

There are many other places to get better seafood and selection of wine and beer, like Quencher's for one. I'd pass up Benz, unless you got caught out in the rain and needed shelter along north Lincoln.

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