Editor’s Note: sometime, while I wasn’t looking, the Schubert Inn closed and yielded to a short-lived joint called Thirsty McCarthy’s, which also closed and is now ROCKS Lincoln Park.
Located on the southwest corner of Lakewood and Schubert lies one of the best neighborhood bars in Lincoln Park. Housed within a two-story wooden frame house that can be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, is the Schubert Inn. Inside, you’ll find a great place to enjoy a pint as well as a few surprises. Step into the Schubert Inn and you’ll find a one-room, linoleum expanse with a long wooden bar on your right and seating on the left. A Golden Tee illuminates a darkened corner, complimenting the neon beer signs in the windows.
Model trains lie under pictures of trains behind the bar, commemorating the Lakewood Branch of the Sugarland Express. The Sugarland Express is a train that delivers sugar and corn syrup to the Peerless Confection Company, located across the street from the Schubert Inn. Peerless opened its doors in 1914 and manufactures 350 varieties of hard and filled candies, including Bon Bons, Cut Rocks and Sour Citrus Cuts, for resale in candy stores around the US, Canada and the Pacific Rim. I had a friend that once lived a few houses down from the Schubert Inn and he observed that the sugar train would sneak in and out during the night with deliveries. I’ve also heard that the train only runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This probably explains why I’ve never seen a train on this curious track running down Lakewood Avenue. If you see it coming, just duck into the Schubert Inn to avoid injury as the old crossing signals with the stop signs that turn no longer operate.
In addition to odd train lore, the Schubert Inn has one of the best beer gardens in the city. The entrance to it is a little difficult to find as you have to walk through what looks like a service entrance. Walk through that and down a metal ramp and you’ll find a leafy, screened-in beer garden with ivy growing on the walls and on the garage that forms the south wall. Plants and string lights hang from an overhead screen, which is held up with wooden posts that have half-barrel planters at their base. Flood lights in the cement floor give the beer garden an intimate glow at night. Seating is available at a plethora of wooden tables, and plastic and metal chairs. It is quite peaceful and very conducive for lazed conversations with your friends. This true beer “garden” evokes feelings of Wrigley Field with its ivy, and is only matched by Charlie’s Ale House with its laid-back atmosphere.
According to BarsOnLine.com, the Schubert Inn is, “A true locals’ hangout, where outsiders are often viewed with suspicion.” Conversely, The Official Chicago Bar Guide (1994) described the Schubert Inn as, “everything a corner bar should be.” My own experience has been positive. I have rubbed elbows with rowdy middle-aged softball teams in summer and older neighborhood types enjoying a quite pint at other times of the year. I have sensed a wariness from both groups when I have come in with friends, as I think the Schubert Inn crowd wasn’t sure what to expect: loud, obnoxious Kincade’s types or young professionals that would enjoy the bar as much as the older crowd. Overall, I have found the Schubert Inn to be quite pleasant and very similar to Cody’s Public House on Briar and Rose’s on Lincoln. That, combined with the trains and the beer garden makes the Schubert Inn one of my favorite neighborhood bars in Chicago. All aboard!