The self-proclaimed "only Irish Pub in Greektown" would be a welcome addition to any neighborhood. With its classic look, lack of pretension and late-night liquor license, Dugan's serves up more than a little craic in an area better-known for opa!
You'll find Dugan's storefront entrance located in the heart of the Greektown strip in a century-old building that's housed a tavern for most of that time. An Irish flag flies next to a humble green awning over the entrance, which is offset by stylish copper trim that frames a series of paned-height windows which open when the weather permits.
Step inside this classic Chicago pub and you'll find a long narrow room with rough brick walls, an ornate metal ceiling and much of the original woodwork. A few cocktails tables crowd the front window, but the space is dominated by the large rectangular bar, which offers four-sided seating. Beyond the bar area, the room opens up to offer quite a bit of extra seating. It's here that you'll find those old bar stand-bys, the Golden Tee machine and electronic dartboard. Dugan's eight flat-panels offer a number of good angles to watch the game or a game show (see below). And for big games, Dugan's will pull down a pair of 84" projection screens, which look great as long as you're sitting head on. And while I can't speak for the ladies' facilities, the kitty-corner urinals in the men's room seem odd at best, downright awkward at worst.
Dugan's beer selection is in a word, excellent. Beyond the expected Guinness, Harp and Bass, Dugan's 24 taps include tempting selections like Rogue Meyerfest Seasonal and Two Brothers Cane and Ebel. The 17 bottled offerings fill in the mass-market domestics and for anything else, it's best to keep it simple. Dugan's is the kind of pub that proudly avoids a martini list or house signature drink. If you're feeling adventurous, you could down a "flu shot" or, better yet, make it a Jameson's. You'll find attractive specials every day of the week, so you don't have to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks.
Complimentary popcorn, pretzels and other salt-laden snacks are the food on Dugan's menu. If you're hungry, you can have food delivered from any of the delicious nearby restaurants or you can time your visit around Final Jeopardy. Often, but not always, happy hour early birds are treated to a stack of White Castle hamburgers courtesy of the friendly bartender. Though "sliders" just don't taste the same before midnight, I appreciated the effort and the pre-dinner snack.
Planning a trip south of the border this winter? In what's an original idea, Dugan's is forming an evening group Spanish class. You can learn a few strategic phrases, enjoy a drink and discuss with your new friends the merits of a beach vacation during hurricane season.
The crowd at Dugan's varies between professional, local and miscellaneous. Office workers and the growing number of condo residents in the area dominate the scene in the earlier hours. Late nights and on weekends you'll find a pot luck mix of restaurant goers, the pre/post United Center crowd, UIC students, folks out for a night of partying and industry folks attracted to Dugan's 4am liquor license. Expect a full-house at peak times and a vibe that is friendly and sometimes raucous, but never out of hand.
If you like Dugan's you might want to investigate Emmit's Pub (River West), Celtic Crossings (River North), Irish Oak (Wrigleyville) or the farther-flung Chief O'Neill's (Avondale). For more information, check out Dugan's website. Cheers.
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– written by Randy Kohl
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