Interested in taking a trip to the Emerald Isle? Well, if you can't afford a trip to Ireland and you like classic Chicago bars, the Emerald Isle is the place for you whenever you find yourself in the far north Chicago neighborhood enclave known as Rosehill. Not to be confused with the Edison Park edition, Emerald Isle is a great place to hoist a brew, have a game of pool and experience a bit of craic, Chicago style.
The Emerald Isle is located on Peterson Avenue, amongst hideous remnants of the 1960s like the Cardamil Building three blocks west of Western Avenue. Emerald Isle can be easily spotted with its tasteful red and green wooden façade and white plastic tables and chairs that make up its sidewalk café in summer. Inside, you'll find two hardwood-floored rooms. The first has a long wooden bar with black Formica top that runs along its eastern wall. Behind that, you'll find a dancing James Brown, two televisions showing WGN News at lunchtime, ornately carved, green-painted wooden pillars that help hold up the ceiling, Hamm's on tap, musical instruments, and old Guinness posters painted on the off-white wall above the bar. A full-blown grill in the front window, rivaling that of Wolfy's hot dog stand located just down the street near California, serves up mostly burgers and sandwiches from a distinctly American menu (sorry, no shepherd's pie here).
Any time of day, you'll find a combination of blue-collar and younger neighborhood types taking up their perch on a series of high-backed, vinyl-padded stools and enjoying cheap food & drink specials (see above). As the food and beer get the juices flowing, you can also enjoy the banter at the bar between the regulars and the barmaids as you gaze at framed pictures of the actual Emerald Isle and old Irish ditties, like: "An Old Irish Curse" and "Some Thoughts on Leprechauns." Additional seating in the main bar area can be found at one of the three cocktail tables that run along the west side of the room. Step through the rectangular portal in the western wall into the second room and you'll find a few wooden booths, exposed brick walls, a Golden Tee machine and a pool table. Between shots you can take in the foot traffic through the front windows overlooking Peterson.
While the name would imply the promise of corned beef & cabbage and well-poured Guinness, the Emerald Isle is more of a neighborhood bar of the same ilk as Big Joe's in Andersonville, Michael's in Buena Park Neighbors, and Sterch's in Lincoln Park, where regulars wash down cheeseburgers with Miller Lite. While there are few frills here, the Emerald Isle is a good bar with a very friendly atmosphere. Once, when I called to see if they were open for lunch, the person on the other end of the phone responded, "Sure we are! We've got $1 beef tacos on special. Come on in!" After enjoying my tacos, Kathy the barmaid introduced herself and wished me a good day on my way out. How many times do you get that in Lincoln Park? The Emerald Isle is a great destination at lunchtime, after work or for football on Sundays, especially now since it has transformed away from a Packers supporting bar known as the Sturche Olde Tavern. For more information, check out the Emerald Isle Facebook page.
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