Once one of the coolest neighborhood taps in the city, Redmond’s has been transformed into yet another raucous Wrigleyville sports bar—which is just fine for the area but a sad departure from what it used to be. It seems the change came when Bar 1 Events (Duffy’s, Durkin’s, Wrightwood Tap & McGee’s) bought the place from the owners of Vaughan’s Pub and Corcoran’s. We can’t blame the present owners for this change but it is sad to see a neighborhood crown jewel devolve into the same old drunken madness after Cub games and on weekends as you’ll find just around the corner and on the main drag of Clark that runs past Wrigley Field. However, Redmond’s has an impressive bar, solid pub grub and a bevy of daily specials.
Brown Line El riders will probably know Redmond’s from the giant “Redmond’s” sign that hangs on the north side of the building, just above the sidewalk cafe. This sign can be seen as the Brown Line starts curving south towards the Belmont El station. This is usually the place where, every morning without exception, the train stops for between 30 seconds and two minutes on an angle that makes it difficult to stand. Maybe the owner of Redmond’s has something to do with it as part of a clever promotional scheme… The glass entrance to Redmond’s is located under a rather ornate, maroon-painted turret, which is a hallmark of great Chicago corner bars. If you look closely, there are several interesting black and white photographs mounted at the top of Redmond’s façade, depicting a Chicago of years gone by. When you walk into Redmond’s, you’ll find a pretty nice room with hardwood floors, a silver-painted tin ceiling, old photographs of the city adorning the walls, a maroon banquette with cocktail tables and white votive candles, and an old wooden bar with red beveled lights. Need to get cash or grab a Reader? Just head over to the west end of the bar, chief, and sort yourself out.
The bar is a great place to hang out if you can get a seat. I recently spent a lazy Saturday afternoon there reading “Savage Love” in the Chicago Reader, following a Cubs game that was postponed due to rain. “Savage Love” is one of the best sections of the Reader as Dan Savage (openly gay) gives hard-edged, sarcastic advice to readers’ questions about sex and relationships. This particular edition was about guys who like their girlfriends to, how shall I say, use his backdoor with a strap-on device. The article reminded me of a story I once heard about a guy how liked to use his girlfriend’s backdoor. Once, as he was “leaving,” he was not alone. The entity that accompanied his departure was not of a pleasant aroma, which caused him to zook all over his girlfriend’s back, in turn, causing her to laugh at the carpet as well. How about that mental image for you?
Above the bar and neon “R” (reminiscent of the R Bar in New Orleans) is a professionally done chalkboard illustrating over 30 beers available. Several televisions are located throughout the room, and two dancing bottles and one dancing can do their thing below the TV in the northwest corner (next to the bowling pin). Unfortunately, Redmond’s has chosen to support the lowly Minnesota Vikings, by showing their games on the plethora of TVs. My recommendation: avoid Redmond’s on Sunday afternoons and the occasional Monday night, so as to avoid rabid, cretinous, club-footed Viking fans. Redmond’s is also “Home of Wisconsin Badgers” just like half of the other sports bars in Chicago.
The backroom offers another bar (rarely staffed), a set of bathrooms, several raised booths against the wall, more tables, a Golden Tee machine, and a pool table. The only problem in the back is that the Golden Tee crowd often crowds the pool players, which can cause some “friction.” As you play pool, you can also check out the sidewalk traffic through large plate glass windows that overlook Sheffield, same as those in the front room.
If you’re eating, I recommend the backroom as it is somewhat less smoky. Redmond’s offers a good selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and burgers, served in generous portions. Also downstairs is a carpeted party room that is rarely used, probably because it is not very big and it looks like a suburban, subterranean rec room sparsely furnished with and eclectic variety of furniture (including a funky retro lamp in the corner).
One night, after a Cubs game, I headed over to the “old Redmond’s” with a group of friends. On the way, I stopped off at Wrigleyville Sports across the street from Wrigley Field, where I bought a Cubs floppy hat as part of a drunken impulse purchase. After finally getting over to Redmond’s 25 minutes later, one of my friends was pissed off because she was waiting. When she yelled, “Where were YOU?!” I sheepishly smiled, pointing to my purchase saying innocently, “I bought a hat.” That did not go over well, but the hat remains required garb for Cubs games and outdoor festivals like Jazzfest.
While Sheffield’s Wine & Beer Garden attracts hordes when the weather warms up, Redmond’s beer garden is an alternative to the madness. There are several tables, full-waitress service and a few hanging plants to boot. The sidewalk café is a good place to chill out and to taunt the people sitting across the street in Penny’s sidewalk café.
As you leave Redmond’s, check out the stained glass hanging above the entrance with the inscription, “Donated by Ladies of South Chicago.” Also, be careful: the Roscoe and Sheffield intersection is a four way stop, but it is rare that anyone actually does stop fully (particularly cabs), so use whatever good judgment you have left. If you have none, be sure to head over to Johnny O’Hagan’s where you won’t be alone.
Redmond’s was originally located further south on Sheffield, where Vaughan’s Pub is now located and is more like the original Redmond’s than the current incarnation at Sheffield & Roscoe. If you like Redmond’s, you’ll also like pretty much any of the other debaucherous drinking dens along Clark, which happen to be closer after a Cubs game. For more information and to check out their menu, visit Redmond’s website. Go Cubbies!