Kendall's is one of those standard Lincoln Park sports bars, located in an old-fashioned, saloon-like space just large enough to hold the heaving throng of patrons that come back night after night. While somewhat nicer and larger than its brethren, Kendall's is clearly of the same ilk, and may be considered interchangeable with Kincade's and Kelsey's (two other "K" bars owned by Bobby Burleson), O'Malley's West, Gamekeepers, McGee's, Durkin's, and Finley Dunne's. During the week, the post-collegiate Chicago crowd descends upon Kendall's and are joined on the weekends by their suburban counterparts. Guys come to catch games, play pool, have a crack at the Golden Tee, and either try to pick up or get into a fight. Kendall's can be found on the east side of Lincoln avenue between Kelsey's and the Alumni Club. Just look for the green-painted, wooden facade at the base of the two-story, brown brick building at 2263. Personally, it took me years to remember which was which between Kendall's and Kelsey's. I even had the two mixed up when I first posted what I thought was a Kelsey's review but actually turned out to be Kendall's. Then again, it took me years to figure out that it's Soldier Field, not Soldier's Field.
Once you've successfully located the groggery, have your ID out for the ever-present bouncer. Inside, you'll find a long wooden bar that runs along the south end of the room. Wooden shelves stocked with booze lie behind the bar and just below a a solitary big screen hanging at the east end, next to two big-screen TVs that are choice for watching DePaul basketball. Previously, I thought Kelly's Pub was the only place supporting Chicago's hometown, marquis college basketball program. On the other hand, good luck if you're trying to find the Northwestern or Loyola game. If you can't find a seat at one of the high-backed, wooden stools at the bar, additional seating can be found across from it. There are also a few cocktail tables on either side of the front door, in the front windows that open out in summer. Two brass railings ensure that over-served patrons don't fall out onto the sidewalk until they leave the bar.
More cocktail tables line both sides of the landing, located next to the bar area. Here, four— count 'em, four— 10-foot big screens descend from the wooden ceiling along the east and north ends of the room, with more televisions located in-between (18 to be exact), all of which are fed by 12 satellite feeds. Wherever there isn't a TV, framed pictures of athletes, memorabilia, and portraits of Kendall's Hall of Shame (featuring the likes of OJ Simpson, Mike Tyson, and Tonya Harding), are screwed into the wood-paneled wall. Considering the Jameson Heist, we now know that not even screws can ensure that photographs, bar signs and pictures won't be stolen... If you're like me and watching the Cubs getting slaughtered begins to bore you, have a go at one of the pool tables on the landing or succumb to the allure of the Golden Tee machine located just beyond the east end of the bar. Bathrooms can be found down the hall, between both landings and toward the back of the bar. Once you get tired of the free popcorn, grab a menu from one of the waitresses and order from Kendall's standard pub grub selection, highlighted by hummus, mini-corn dogs, buffalo wings, turkey chili, salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, jalapéno poppers, burgers, and pizza. While the $1 half-pound burgers on Monday nights are pretty good, $0.10 wings along with the stipulation that you have to purchase a minimum of 20 along with a drink is a bit lame. However, $5 pitchers & pizza on Wednesday nights more than compensates.
"Imagine the place where the face painters at every sporting event would hang out and you've got Kendall's."
Shecky's Bar, Club & Lounge Guide 2002
As is always the case with Lincoln Park sports bars, many take issue with the crowd, the staff and the vibe. People complain about meathead dudes, prissy trixies and terrible service. While I am not a huge fan of these things either, Kendall's is actually a pretty good sports bar for March Madness, Chicago Sport & Social Club gatherings, college football games and any other major sporting events if you get there early and score a table and if you're in the mood to deal with a lot of rowdy people. Otherwise, head to Kendall's on Thursday nights when it's a somewhat less manic version of the scene found there on the weekends. All in all, Not bad for a bar formerly known as Tailgators, Redmak's (a New York-style bar where the personnel wore bodysuit uniforms), and the Oxford Pub (a 4am booby hatch where, "coffin races and a pall bearing contest [were] not unusual," according to the I Love Chicago Guide in 1982). If you like Kendall's, you might also like Casey Moran's in Wrigleyville and O'Donovan's in North Center, both of which are under the same ownership. For more information, check out the Kendall's website. Go Demons!
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Photo courtesy of Andrew M.