Irish Eyes is as much an Irish pub as a Chicago El stop. Maybe it’s the Kelly green carpet, polished wood bar and ceiling, or maybe it’s the thick glasses of Whitey O’Day, but despite its ultimate cheesiness, Irish Eyes is a fun place to down a Guinness or ten.
Irish Eyes fits in well with this crazy strip of Lincoln Park bars, which includes such madness as Deju Vu and the Gin Mill. On Friday and Saturday nights, Irish Eyes is at its best when Irish singers Gerry O’Connell and Whitey O’Day are big draws belting out ballads on weekends, perched precariously on a tiny elevated stage in the corner of this brightly lit, triangular room, and is also a popular destination for pub crawls, bachelorette parties, and Chicago Trolley excursions. To find it, just look for a plate glass windows jammed with neon shamrock Budweiser signs located at the base of a white building with wooden-shingled awning and a larger than life pint of Guinness with a My Goodness, My Guinness-style toucan flying over it and “Irish Eyes” written out in calligraphy next to it. If you visit the bar on the weekends, be prepared to fork over $3 to an ancient bouncer at the door for the pleasure of hearing the “Unicorn Song” and “South Side Irish.” The crowd is usually large, rowdy and exceedingly drunk – so be forewarned. Just sing along with them and you’ll fit in perfectly.
In addition to the “Irish” entertainment, one can amuse one’s self on the obligatory Golden Tee machine, shooting darts on the regulation board (good luck finding enough room to play), or by viewing the myriad of beer memorabilia hanging from the ceiling and exposed brick walls. One night, I spent the time throwing beer coasters at an elderly drunk man asleep on his stool at the bar. Sometimes Irish Eyes is reticent to toss out those that may need it the most. On the other hand, they dramatically improved the state of the men’s bathroom by adding a urinal.
While not really a “neighborhood” bar, Irish Eyes draws people in during the week in part with their “Guest Bartender” promotion co-sponsored by Guinness. Proceeds from these events benefit the charity of your choosing. Complete with Irish brogue, Gerry O’Connell is the owner of Irish Eyes and can be seen behind the bar when he’s not performing. I suggest hitting Irish Eyes at 11:30 p.m. on Friday night; you’ll beat the crowd and you might even get a seat at the bar.
“If it’s past 1A.M. and you’re a wild and crazy co-ed or wandering the streets in the grips of a collegiate flashback and seeing double, this is the place for you.”– Shecky’s Bar, Club & Lounge Guide 2002
Stop by for a Guinness, Harp or Murphy’s, and if you’re lucky maybe you’ll hear a dirty limerick or be able to steal a plastic Budweiser tchotchke. An additional tip: if the bartender goes up to sing his version of “American Pie,” I suggest it may be time to get in line for the bathroom. For more information, Irish Eyes does not have a website, so give them a call at the number listed above.
Photograph taken by Carla G. Surratt of Picturing Chicago