Moody’s Pub is one of the best Chicago bars that you’ve never heard of. Located in the heart of the Edgewater neighborhood at Broadway and Rosedale, not many people beyond Loyola students know it’s there. But, there it is in all of its dark wood and brick glory. Not sure you want to head up to Edgewater to check out the place? Perhaps you should consider that Moody’s serves up one of the best hamburgers in the city. Still not convinced? How about this: Moody’s has one of the largest and most pleasant beer gardens in town, and has one of the most comfortable, fireplace-heated rooms in winter. Combined with a laid-back atmosphere and cheap prices, Moody’s is hard to resist if you can motivate yourself to get up north.
Moody’s Pub is located on the west side of Broadway, just south of Thorndale Avenue, Ole St. Andrew’s Inn and The Bubble. The saloon is most easily accessible from the Thorndale Red Line El Stop, located one block east and one block north, or from the No. 36 Broadway bus that stops at Thorndale. If you’re driving, a fair bit of free parking is available immediately to the north in the Broadway Bank parking lot. Metered parking also runs along both sides of Broadway. Better yet, make Moody’s Pub a stop when renting out a Chicago Trolley for the night. Otherwise, a cab will cost you about $15 from the North Side. Once you’re in the vicinity, you’ll find Moody’s 1950’s tan brick and dark wood façade beckoning you.
Beyond the thick wooden door that comprises the entrance to Moody’s Pub is a large barroom, packed with 28 thick, wooden, low-rider oak tables and green plastic chairs. Just inside the door is a metal washbasin filled with peanuts (baskets to the side). Primo seating is available at the table perched right in the circular front windows and at the large booth nook behind it, surrounded with smoky mirrors. As you make your way to the back of the room or to the beer garden, it can be a little annoying trying to get through all those tables, as they are located very close together. However, it will all be worth it in the end – just take a deep breath, walk towards the back of the room via the narrow passage next to the bar, and she’ll be apples. Inside Moody’s Pub is dark. Very dark. The Inner Town Pub-like reduced visible spectrum is due to the only lighting coming from the two fireplaces at the back, candles on the tables, a single TV in the corner, from the grill at the end of the bar, and from what I can only describe as funky, expressionistic, 60’s, back-lit artwork hanging on the walls around the room. The entire room itself seems encased dark mahogany wood – or at least the floors, walls, booths, and long wooden bar that runs along the north end of the room. There isn’t even a Golden Tee machine to shed any light. This room has that similar medieval England feel to Monk’s Pub and Friar Tuck, both located further south, except that Moody’s Pub has an interesting assortment of black & white portraits, rifles, sledgehammers and cattle skulls behind the bar (you know, the usual). Moody’s also has the same feel of the now-closed My Pie on Clark in Lincoln Park, Alfie’s Inn (the “Camelot of Glen Ellyn”; a burger & steak joint on Roosevelt Road), and the Ground Round; places with lots of wood, lots of meat, and the inability to see the color of and what someone might have done to your food, the free peanuts on the tables or the cement floor.
Photo courtesy of Eliina
During those precious few warm months in summer, the beer garden at Moody’s Pub is one of the best locations to unwind and enjoy the weather. The enormity of the tri-level beer garden makes it seem more like a park, giving Chief O’Neill’s, Charlie’s Ale House, the Village Tap, and Resi’s Bierstube a run for their money. Dozens of plastic and red-painted picnic tables (57 in total, to be exact), three waterfalls bubbling away, and wall-crawling ivy all lie within the confines of a brick wall with black wrought-iron railings that block out the noise of Broadway, and in the shade of several large silver oak trees where sparrows like to congregate. These birds also keep an eye on patrons and any scraps of food that might be had. I once saw a sparrow carry off a French fry that was at least as long as the bird itself.
Photo courtesy of Davis Moody’s menu, like its beer list, is rather limited but simple and quite good. Moody’s offers half-pound “Moodyburgers,” seaburgers (fried fish sandwiches), pork chops, steak sandwiches, fried shrimp, Sloppy Joes, onion rings, double-chicken breast sandwiches, and salads for the ladies including: “The Biggest Salad in Town,” served literally on a silver platter. The hamburgers (and outdoor dining) at Moody’s have even been voted the best found in the neighborhood by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce award, given the honor of “Best Burger” by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader and Chicago Sun Times, and recently won the coveted Citysearch Chicago’s “Editorial Winner” for “Best Hamburger.” I can personally vouch for this, as the burgers I’ve had at Moody’s are excellent. I even think they are better than those found at John Barleycorn’s and Jury’s. All food is served with a healthy portion of fries and in wicker baskets like at Jury’s (another great place for burgers and a beer garden), and will not set you back more than $6 to $8. A Chicago freelance writer, known only as Girl Moxie, proclaims, “I suppose to you McDonald’s types, $6 for a hamburger is a stretch, but you will not regret it. I promise. I have a guarantee for you: if you disagree, you may treat me to what you believe is the Best Burger in Chicago, and I will make an objective decision… And if you’re really lucky, you can buy me a drink, too.” The service is no frills, can be slow at times, but is reliable.
Moody’s often has good deals on pitchers since all beer is served on tap ($8.50 for Michelob Light, everyday), and the selection includes Anchor Steam, Michelob, Beck’s and Berghoff Dark (highly recommended). Pints of beer are served in glass steins for $2.50. Moody’s also has an impressive selection of “Pub Potions,” consisting of exotic summer drinks like the “Rhapsody in Booze” that consists of bourbon, cherry brandy and dark creme de cacao. In colder times, Moody’s has apple cider, hot chocolate and “Fireside Fantasies” like the “Keoke,” consisting of brandy, Kahlua, coffee, and topped with whipped cream. Getting to Moody’s, even though it is a fair way north, is a breeze. Either drive up and park in the spacious lot next door or take the Red Line El to the Thorndale stop (head west along Thorndale to Broadway and take a left – Moody’s is only about a block away). No $15 cab rides are necessary. Even though it’s hard to do a lot of damage to your wallet at Moody’s, keep in mind that they only accept cash, especially as there is no ATM inside the bar although there may be one next door at the Broadway Bank.
Upon a few visits to Moody’s beer garden, I found the atmosphere to be quite conducive for conversations about hunting, Chris Farley and David Spade movies, a friend’s lascivious habit of shagging his employees while being a manager at Burger King, and Indian food. The reason for talking about curry is that Devon’s “Little India” and “Little Pakistan” corridor is just around the corner, between Ridge Boulevard and California Avenue – a great place for an Indian meal, curry spices, for ladies to have stray eyebrow hairs removed, and to purchase live chickens (no joke). I also have to suggest the “Moody Bleu” burger: a cleverly named hamburger topped with bleu cheese and, while I don’t care for these myself, a huge slice of raw onion.
While it is a great place and may even have some international notoriety from former Loyola students (“I’d say from Joliet on the south to just this side of the Arctic Circle,” says owner John Moody), Moody’s Pub is not to be confused with the subject of Russell Drysdale’s 1941 painting by the same name. Now hanging in the Vaucluse Museum in Sydney, “Moody’s Pub” is a great example of the lesser-known Australian aptitude for painting. Recently in the article, “Australian-ness Captured in Drysdale Retrospective,” Moody’s Pub earned the following description: “Even Australians with no interest in or knowledge of art will surely feel a jolt of recognition on seeing paintings such as Moody’s Pub, in which four lanky men have a smoke outside the iron-lace-balconied pub of an otherwise deserted outback town…”
What has been an Edgewater institution that dates back to 1967, was once a popular pub that moved north (from its original lair at 1529 W. North that helped replace the bierstubes that preceded it, and a second at Larabee & North), following the urban facelift of Old Town in the mid-to-late 60s, “John Moody and Ray Zago who operated their atmospheric Moody’s Pub in Old Town for eight years before closing 18 months ago, recently re-opened at 5910 N. Broadway, on the site of what was a used car lot. The building is new, with an apartment for John, his wife and son on the second floor. The grounds—enclosed by a wrought iron fence—are earmarked for a beer garden similar to the former one in Old Town, complete to fish ponds, chess and checker games for the leisurely, and parachute canopies for weather protection,” according to Kay Loring in her Chicago Tribune article “Front Views & Profiles” (May 26, 1969).
Moody’s Pub can’t be beat for its burgers, beer garden and the comfortable laid-back atmosphere. Whether young or old, it’s difficult not to enjoy yourself at Moody’s in summer or winter, for drinks or food, day or night. It’s especially hard to beat having a “Moody Bleu” with a few steins of Berghoff. Afterwards, head up the block to Hamilton’s Pub if you’re experiencing Golden Tee withdrawal or want to experience the best of Edgewater’s dancing scene (an oxymoron?), saunter up to The Bubble or Sovereign for a cocktail (or Old Style out of a can), or head over to the Davis Theater on Lincoln. The Pumping Co. and the now-defunct Sixpence are also located just a few blocks north. When you’re at Moody’s, just remember: don’t get too close to the fireplace and watch out for sparrows doing that pull-up flying maneuver that can only mean one thing – duck! For more information, a couple of bad jokes and a coupon for a second dinner for half-price, check out the Moody’s Pub website. Bob’s yer uncle!