Flounder's shares some interesting similarities to a bar called "The Dive" that used to be located around the corner until it was recently torn down and turned into condos. The Dive was actually a good place with its name actually referring to scuba diving as its walls were painted like the ocean and that's what held the owner's interest. Flounder's carries the torch with its sea-evoking name, unremarkable appearance that does not do justice what you'll find within, and casual atmosphere. Flounder's joins s short list that includes only Webster's Wine Bar, Charlie's on Webster and Cagney's as one of the few places here in the western outskirts of Lincoln Park, where you can have a decent pint, watch the game and shoot some stick. Flounder's is also a bonus for pre- or post-movie drinks since Webster Place Theater is kitty-corner to the bar. And they have beer pong...
As you draw near to Flounder's, you'll encounter a three-story, wood-frame building lined with grey corrugated metal facade, large plate-glass, patio-like windows that open out in summer, and a green awning. As you walk in Flounders' exposed brick and bare wooden interior, there's a row of cocktail tables with votive candles and plastic condiment crates on your right and a long wooden bar with a smattering of high-backed, green vinyl barstools on your right. Behind the bar lies a "Flounder University" t-shirt, wandering plants, and a sign that reads, "NO SNIVELING." Upon my first visit, I got excited when I saw what I thought was a red "Huskies" flag until I realized that Flounder's supports the University of Nebraska Husk-ers (Cornhuskers, that is) instead of the Northern Illinois University Husk-ies. I prefer the NIU Huskies myself, as that is my alma mater, particularly after their glorious 10-2 season in which they beat Maryland, Iowa State and Alabama (in Alabama). This was remarkably different from the 1990's where they once went a year and a half without winning (perhaps that is why they have the "NO SNIVELING" sign here at Flounder's for old school NIU fans...) Anyway, the bar now supports Penn State, Southern Illinois and the University of Arizona, and here in the front room of the bar is probably the best place to watch games as the few satellite-fed TVs are concentrated around the bar. This is also the best place to grab some grub as the waitresses don't seem to make her way to the back room very often. Flounder's serves up a good-sized menu of fried appetizers, wings, sandwiches, salads, a good selection of pasta, an even better selection of chicken dishes, burgers, weekend brunch with Bloody Marys from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and all-you-can-eat fish and garlic fries (?!?) on Wednesdays. Twenty different types of brewskies help wash it all down.
Beyond the bar is a jukebox with an eclectic collection, Golden Tee, ATM, potted plant, and a corridor lined with glass blocks, old pictures of Chicago and additional seating at cocktail tables. There's a pool table in back with an electronic dartboard and a random arcade game. In this room, Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman look down at you from black & white Color of Money posters, in addition to the Playboy Bunny and John Belushi as Blutarsky in Animal House. A thick, brown velvet curtain hangs over patio doors that lead to what may some day function as a beer garden. Today, the patio is merely a barren outdoor enclosure, sans tables, with a scuffed cement floor badly in need of a paint job. Perhaps when Flounders gets a beer garden license is when we'll see a renovation.
What can you say about the crowd? Pretty laid-back, devoid of pretension and if you're looking to pick up, head somewhere else. Many live in the area (was once there as two mountain bikers came in through the back door and wheeled their bikes up in front of the velvet curtain), and some blindly run across the place.
Formerly Chez Delphonse, a restaurant serving French cuisine Caribbean style, Flounder's has maintained a low-key, almost Caribbean style (if it didn't get so damned cold in Chicago), and continues to serve a fine selection of food. While some my claim Flounder's is a rather forgettable place, they probably missed out on the subtle charm of the place. My recommendation: get your tickets early (or over the phone) for Webster Place as popular movies often sell out for times between 8:00 and 10:00pm, and head to Flounder's for food and/or drinks before the big show. Perhaps the owner of Flounder's should pick up on this and have a movie theme instead of a sports atmosphere... Either way, Flounder's is still a comfortable place to stop by for a couple of beers whether it's your local or not. For more information check out the Flounder's website. Go Husk-ies, Husk-ers, whatever.
~ Have a good story relating to this bar? Email us. ~
[back to the Chicago Bar Project]