2455 N. Clark St. (2500N, 500W)
Chicago, IL 60614
Though often overlooked and rarely reviewed, the Field House has been quietly slingin' beers and offering up free peanuts and football since 1991. Personally, I may never have noticed the joint if I hadn't spied it from the outdoor patio at Mickey's. I'm glad I did though, as the Field House is a good place to chug a few brews, check out the game and not have to worry about finding an empty table or barstool. If you're a Springsteen fan, you'll be especially pleased to note that The Boss is the patron saint at the Field House.
The Field House can be found in Lincoln Park East on Clark, just north of Arlington and Raven's, across from Mickey's, and just down the block from Frank's. The bar isn't tiny, but it can be difficult to spot with its simple, green-painted wooden sign and tasteful green awning with the bars mantra, "Cold Beers and Crunchy Floors," written in white lettering. Step through the wooden door and said crunchy floor (worn wood covered in the shells cast there by patrons) appear before you throughout a smallish, narrow room. Two long wooden tables can be found in the front windows with green bench seating and stools. These windows open out onto Clark Street in warmer weather, giving patrons an excellent view of the local talent outside as you won't find any inside...
A wooden bar runs the length of the south wall, behind which is an aquarium filled with brightly colored saltwater fish and several flat panel televisions packed in in a fairly small space, above American flags cut out from newspapers and pasted up on the wall. Grolsch bottles line a narrow wooden shelf along the north wall of the bar, and the rest of the place is decorated with scores of framed sports photos throughout, including one that commemorates Michael Jordan's retirement from the Chicago Bulls in 1993.
While the Field House supports just about every college and NFL team, they specialize in bringing you the college games of Ohio State, now that the Brownstone opened up and started to draw the Texas Longhorns fans known as the Texas Exes. The saloon also supports the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Boston College Eagles, as well as professional matches of the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, and Cleveland Indians. You'll also find flags and pennants from Missouri, Virginia Tech, and Florida State, some of which are affixed to the white ceiling. Rumor has it, you might find a free buffet for NFL fans on Sundays during the season. There's also a mirrored wall up front so that you can watch yourself drinking (not a pretty sight, at least in my case). When the game's over, you'll find two Golden Tee machines in the back, near to the claustrophobic, airplane-like bathrooms that find redemption from being well-tiled and featuring an auto-flush.
As you would imagine, Field House attracts a predominantly male crowd, there to see their alma maders in full glory. Domestic beers are thrown back about as often as peanut shells hit the floor, while Bruce Springsteen and classic rock fills the air (generally played very loud). If you don't like Bruce Springsteen, you may want to head elsewhere because every other CD in the juke is The Boss. I was at Field House once when the bartender played an entire Lynard Skynard album, much to the delight of the hillbillies with missing teeth that had been drinking in the bar all afternoon.
"This overlooked Lincoln Park dive is noted for its mellow vibe, in contrast to the meatmarkets surrounding it. Patrons dispose of peanut shells onto the floor while trying to spot their alma mater's banner from a display that would make the United Nations jealous. The bartenders are friendly, flat panels numerous, and the bathrooms, though claustrophobic, are clean and well-tiled."
– yours truly as featured in Time Out Chicago
Field House is a bit like Frank's up the road – just down and dirty drinkin'. If you want the game, it's on. Hungry? Have as many peanuts as you wish. Though notably less talent than at Mickey's, you're only spitting distance for a bevy of bars where you'll find the Lincoln Park trixies. According to the owner, Patrick Maykut, the Field House is, "The best neighborhood bar in the city!" Many others may not agree, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To get there, just grab a cab because parking in this neighborhood is the worst in the city, except for maybe the Loop. For more information, check out the Field House website. Otherwise, hook 'em horns!