6973 N. Clark St. (7000N, 1750W)
Chicago, IL 60626
Jarheads has proven to me that looks can indeed be deceiving. From the outside, the faded green awning and red brick facade contrasts sharply with the bright green door, making it seem like, well, a dive bar. There. I said it... Once I was inside, however, I had two thoughts: "Man, this place is actually nice," and "Holy s---! I'm the only white person here. [Pause] Should I leave?"
First thought first: I was surprised that the outside was so green and gaudy and the inside was red and lovely. From the exposed red brick wall running parallel to the bar to the pool table with maroon felt, the color sets a nice mood. So do the two black lights that hang high on the wall and the excessive width of the wooden bar. Everything inside has been newly redone, thanks to the handsome Iraq and Afghanistan Marine war veteran owner who shares a name with the infamous CHiPs star, Eric Estrada. "Jarheads" takes its name from the slang term used for the Marines because of their flat-top haircuts. Mr. Estrada was very nice and explained that the recent upgrades took three weeks and were his own ideas. All of the intricate wooden chairs at the bar are new and fortunately replaced the ancient metal stools with red seats-he saved one just to laugh about it. Eric also upgraded the mirrors behind the bar and the wooden facade in front of them, to compliment the impressive array of Gulf War & Iraq War paraphernalia spread throughout the place. Nice job, Jarhead!
Well, on to that second thought of mine: I opened the front door to find a chorizo-fest. Hmm... "No hay problema!" I thought, in my high school Spanish. I then asked a few of these gentleman if I could, "Sacar sus fotos para usar por un articulo del Internet que estoy escribiendo?" (Can I take your photos to use for an article I am writing for a website?) The unanimous response: "No." Um, okay... Maybe I should've studied French. "Wait," thought I, "I see a girl. Maybe she would like to be photographed." I repeated the question above for the sixth time, to which she responded: "Look, white girl, just because we're Hispanic don't mean we don't speak no English. But sure! I would loooove to be in some photos." Rude yet cooperative: I was in, and she and a few colleagues are hamming it up here for you to see.
Ladies, take note—there is another night at Jarheads that draws a huge man-gathering: the third Tuesday of every month. On this day, both current and former military servicemen get together to shoot the breeze around the time the bar opens (6pm daily). So if you're out a hunting for a big hunk o'hombre, you know when to show up. Alternatively, Saturdays are somewhat surprisingly advertised as "College Night." Aside from the crowd and drinking fermented grains, one can entertain oneself at the bar with the pool table in the back, which can get crowded with a lot of folks just waiting for their turn, while Chief Jarhead Eric plays any tune you so wish to hear from his computer (a pretty good selection, I might add).
The drink selection at Jarheads features eight types of tequilas as well as a crap ton of whiskey. Mr. Estrada offers the usual liqueurs of Frangelico and Kahlua along with a couple of international rarities, such as the Colombian Aguardiente Cristal that goes down smooth with a nice licorice finish. The 63% alcohol content of Jamaica's Wray and Nephew White Rum is also something potent for people of all isles and mainlands. There are no taps at Jarheads, but the bottled beer selection is decent and so are the drink specials. On special for Friday and Saturday nights are $4 martinis, $4 margaritas, and $4 vodka cranberries. Sundays features $2 Coors Light. For the week of Saint Patty's day only, Jarheads offers its green mystery drink, "Liquid Marijuana" for $5.
Eric Estrada plans on adding more specials and a different exterior soon and, in the meantime, runs a good place with friendly bartenders and a jovial bouncer, and I'm sure the joint will only get better. Jarheads is open Wednesday through Sunday (and the third Tuesday of every month) from 6pm until 2am. For more information, check out the Jarheads website. Salud y sempre fi!
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