Not to be confused with the James Bond movie of the same name, Moonraker was one of the few hangouts for Printers Row residents. Once located down the block from Kasey’s, nestled into the base of the Donohue building, Moonraker offered patrons a great place for a pint and some specialties from the sea particularly during the annual Printers Row Book Fair.
Boasting a rustic maritime motif, similar to that of the Dearborn Street Oyster Bar a few blocks to the north, Moonraker patrons could enjoy fish and chips in the dining room, at the bar or outside in the sidewalk cafe in summer. Also on the menu was an eclectic variety of food that included Cajun burritos, the Moonraker sandwich (chicken, mushrooms and cheese on a croissant), New York strip steak, oysters, mussels, seafood crepes, barbeque shrimp, and more fish: baked, fried, broiled, and grilled. While some felt the service to be slow and the food pricey, Moonraker was a favorite spot for locals mainly for its comfortable atmosphere.
“Nice place to sit outside and a fine nautical decor inside. Warm and comfortable, with many locals. Fun: pretending it’s 1952 and you’re waiting for the Super Chief to arrive at Dearborn Station.”
– The Official Chicago Bar Guide (1994)
Moonraker tried hard to be more of a restaurant than a bar, but its success seemed to come more from its pub-like feel. Perhaps it was this disparity that led to its closing. Whatever the case, Moonraker had its day for 16 years and was a favorite for many. Today, the building has been renovated to make way for the newest location of the Hackney’s restaurant and bar chain. At the time of this writing, Hackney’s has not yet opened, which usually means one thing: problems with the city. It will be interesting to see if Hackney’s can carry the torch by giving locals a good place to hang and good things to eat. [Editor’s note: Hackney’s has since opened in the former Moonraker space and does serve a mighty tasty burger.] Argh, matey, I’ll take me burger medium rare…