Mullen’s Bar & Grill

Though proclaiming itself as Irish, with its bright colors and shamrocks, Mullen’s on Clark is more of a classic Wrigleyville sports bar appealing to both Cub fans as well as foosball, dart and Golden Tee enthusiasts. Being a sports bar this close to Wrigley is as unique as a press conference rant by Mayor Daley, but Mullen’s stands out not only with its pub games, but also with its casual atmosphere, surprisingly pleasant beer garden, and unwavering support for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and has recently changed their college affiliation to Michigan State (just what we needed). Mullen’s on Clark is also the Wrigleyville extension of the original Rogers Park bar, Mullen’s Sports Bar & Grill on Western, named in honor of one of Chicago’s finest, Jim Mullen, a Chicago police officer paralyzed after being shot in the line of duty. So kick back, enjoy the review and have one in honor of officer Jim Mullen.

Mullen’s on Clark is located half a block south of Wrigley Field, wedged between fellow eateries-drinkeries Goose Island Wrigleyville and Moxie, and used to be a very similar incarnation known as Abner’s Yard. You can’t miss Mullen’s with its bright yellow and green awning that stretches the width of the two-story, red brick building housing the groggery. Push your way through the glass door, have your ID ready for the eterna-bouncer, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by lots of blonde wood, exposed brick walls and an impressive array of Cubs paraphernalia, flatpanels and beer signs. A medium-length bar runs along the south wall that offers a decent selection of predominantly domestic beers and spirits stands opposite a room full of cocktail tables, where patrons mowe on a fairly standard selection of fried pub grub churned out by the kitchen in the southeast corner of the bar. I have never personally eaten at Mullen’s, but the joint boasts a few awards after being recognized in the top three for the “Mild” and “Exotic” categories in the annual WingFest buffalo wing contest, including their exotic “Cheesy-Garlic” wings.

The tavern sportsman will appreciate a bevy of amusements to break up their binge-drinking a bit. A foosball table can be found near the door, by the Golden Tee machine. Three real cork dartboards are located in the rear, easily making Mullen’s the best spot for draughts in all of Wrigleyville. While we’re on the subject, other dart bars you might like, include Monsignor Murphy’s in Lakeview, Shoes Pub in Lincoln Park, Big Joe’s in Andersonville and Tommy Nevins in Evanston. The dartboards are placed on a wall separating the main room from the hallway leading to the restrooms and cigarette machine. It was in the mensroom that I encountered a poster listing, “Zen Sarcasm,” on which of particular interest to me was, “There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works,” and, “Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.” Sage advice, indeed. WiFi is also available at Mullen’s for those skipping out of work early, though I must say here that I’ve never believed that beer and computing go together, unless writing Chicago Bar Project reviews of course… Mullen’s also features a fairly decent sized beer garden, wedged in-between a few buildings immediately south of Mullen’s that is accessible via a side door in the south wall. Also notable at Mullen’s is the silvery, well-mirrored party room upstairs used for private functions and occasionally opened to accommodate overflow, Improv Mondays with comedians from the iO Chicago Theater, and sponsorship of Mullen’s for softball and flag football teams and dart leagues.

At first glance, Mullen’s is a prototypical Chicago sports bar in a neighborhood jammed with them who pretends to be Irish but is not able to hold a candle to Irish Oak and Johnny O’Hagan’s. More importantly, Mullen’s does stand out for its casual vibe–rather than the meat market madness of John Barleycorn’s Wrigleyville, Casey Moran’s or Hi-Tops–and for not being as heaving packed as Sports Corner, Bernie’s and Yakzie’s on Clark on game days. This makes Mullen’s similar to nearby Dark Horse Tavern, Merkle’s Bar & Grill and Goose Island Wrigleyville. As you would guess, Mullen’s does get crowded after Cub games with loaded fans just like everywhere else in the neighborhood, but has more of a regular crowd otherwise.

Mullen’s on Clark, following suit from the original, is named after Chicago police officer, Jim Mullen, who was shot in the face on the night of October 16, 1996, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. While this ended his career as a police officer, it led Jim to being an inspiration to millions. The Jim Mullen Foundation that, “makes computer technology available to the disabled and disadvantaged so they can overcome barriers and reach their full potential,” was formed. Jim also appeared in the launch video for the Microsoft Windows 98 video entitled, “Enable: People with Disabilities,” and was personally invited to the White House as part of participating George W. Bush’s “Initiative to Reduce Barriers to People with Disabilities” ceremonies. And by the way: Jim Mullen makes the best applesauce in the known universe, available at Whole Foods and Happy Foods. Atta boy, Jim!

If you’re looking for a good place after yet another infuriating Cubs defeat, or a place to get your foosball or darts on, Mullen’s is a happy medium over the bedlam nearby. Additionally, if you’re up north, Mullen’s Sports Bar & Grill can be found at 7301 N. Western, and if you’re wandering near my old stomping grounds, you’ll also find a Mullen’s in Lisle. The same people behind Mullen’s also own the infamous West Rogers Park after-work hang, the Mark II Lounge. For more information on the imbibery at hand, check out the Mullen’s on Clark website. Until then, go Cubbies!