Goldie’s. The great unknown Chicago bar… until now. This Chicago Bar Project exclusive reveals the true nature of a bar you won’t find profiled on Metromix or Citysearch. Is it a dive bar? Sports bar? Has the recent renovation transformed the place into a cookie-cutter, trendy bar with lots of wood and little character? Read on, fellow inebriate.
Located at the northeast corner of Lincoln and Bernice, and kitty-corner from the husk of the now-defunct Grizzly’s Lodge, Goldie’s has been serving North Center for at least the last 10 years I’ve lived in Chicago. The bar originally caught the eye by its somewhat bizarre, roughly-hewn stone exterior but, after a renovation two years ago that included adding a third story to the building itself, Goldie’s has a new look. A maroon awning with a new, olive-infused logo, and windows that open out in warm weather, have replaced the creepy, can’t-see-in look, and give the place a more inviting and airy feel.
Goldie’s is a throwback one-room tavern with a warm decor featuring exposed brick walls, a nicely tiled floor in green marble-like ceramic, and maroon-painted ceiling. Seating can be found at wooden cocktail tables up front and high-backed wooden chairs at the wrap-around bar that runs along the southeast corner. There, blue hanging lights shine down upon a video poker machine and four taps – not many considering that most other bars in Chicago now feature at least a dozen varieties, but the $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts more than make up for it (cash only, please – no credit cards are accepted and, if you’d like to pay with a check, you need to find your way into the new millennium). A glass shelved bar-back offers lots of booze for those more cocktail-inclined and the whole area behind the bar, and throughout the entire room, is very neat thanks to the predominantly female bartending staff. Goldie’s does not have a kitchen, but you can grab yourself a bag of chips if you ask nicely. Bladder relief can be found in the one-seaters opposite the bar.
Goldie’s is more of a neighborhood hang, and you’ll find the local young-but-non-yuppster crowd playing darts on the real cork boards running along the north wall, and playing pool on the orange-felted table. A few TVs can be found in the corners, but this is far from a sports bar. The Golden Tee found in northeast corner was actually seen turned off on a Saturday night. Tunes can be played from the wall-mounted jukebox, otherwise it’s up to the bartenders.
“A tasteful renovation has replaced the creepy stonework facade, but Goldie’s remains strangely unknown. The cork dartboards, pool table and female bartenders are notable and, while there’s no kitchen (chips) or extensive beer selection ($1 PBR and $3 Guinness drafts), the back-to-basics approach to inebriation is refreshing compared with the $9 burgers and $5 beers found just up the street.”– yours truly as featured in Time Out Chicago’s TOC 100
Goldie’s is a good example of a Chicago bar that has been successfully upgraded to appeal to a changing clientele. As the North Center neighborhood has regentrified with a younger crowd moving in, it’s good to see that the Serbian/German owners that run the real estate office next door have invested in the place to keep up. I never went to Goldie’s prior to the renovation because it looked like an absolute dive. Whether or not that was true, Goldie’s is far from a dive today and fits in well with other neighborhood newcomers like Brownstone (formerly Benedict’s) and Glunz Bavarian House (formerly Great Beer Palace). My recommendation: check out Goldie’s after grabbing a meal at Grizzly’s or when you’re looking for a pool table or darts game during the week.