“Lincoln Park’s friendliest neighborhood gathering place”
Editor’s Note: without much fanfare, the notorious Old Town Triangle / Lincoln Park two-decade old frat party finally ended in 2018.
Sedgwick’s is definitely one of the best sports bars in both Lincoln Park and Chicago, rivaling that of tough competitors like Cubby Bear, ESPN Zone, Joe’s, Slugger’s, and Yak-zies on Clark. To my mind, the reason for this is that Sedgwick’s has everything you want in a sports bar: plenty of sports viewing (including popular international contests), excellent food, and a pretty good atmosphere to down several pitchers. Sedgwick’s is ideal during the week after a volleyball or softball game down by the lake, or anytime on the weekend. Although the crowd consists of the standard Lincoln Park yuppie crowd, Sedgwick’s retains much character of its own with excellent specials, dining and drinking facilities, and special events.
Sedgwick’s is tucked away on Sedgwick Street, just south of Armitage and Lincoln, and right next to Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap. Sedgwick’s is tastefully decorated with its green painted façade, name elegantly written on one of two green awnings, and windows trimmed in yellow. Considering its green and yellow colors, thank God it’s not another bar supporting the Green Bay Packers; Will’s Northwoods Inn is quite enough for our Cheesehead brethren, thank you very much. One would think that such an exterior is indicative of an upscale, low-key, neighborhood bar like Hugo’s Frog Bar or Twin Anchors. However, as you step through Sedgwick’s large wooden door with giant brass snail handle, into the terrazzo-tiled entrance, it won’t take long for you to figure out that Sedgwick’s is a sports bar through and through.
To your left is the dining room separated into two main areas. The first part of the room hosts a wooden bar on your right, matching the floors, and a good-sized seating area to your left. The bar sports high-backed, green barstools to match the pub’s colors and nutcrackers behind it at Christmastime. Over 40 types of beer are available, with over 30 in bottles and 10 on draft. Standouts include: Anchor Stream, Carlsberg, Celis White, Franziskaner Weiss, McEwan’s, Staropramen, and Sedgwick’s is one of the last bars in Chicago that still serves Icehouse and Old Style. There are a few televisions behind the bar, and several neon beer signs hang on the exposed brick wall behind the bar. This wall stretches all the way to the kitchen area. Beyond the bar, on the same wall, check out the nicely framed picture of Cosmo Kramer.
The front dining room area hosts several cocktail tables, a few booths, and a few regular dining tables up against the French windows that open out in summer. Above the booths hangs a giant chalkboard that illustrates the entire menu. A wooden rail partition, that you can sit next at and eat off of, separates the front part of the dining room from the back. The latter area hosts a score of regular dining tables with catbird seating to the big screen that dominates the room. Both areas offer waitress service, which is decent but spotty. Several more televisions and a score of old sports photographs are located throughout the entire room to keep you occupied as you wait for the waitress. Speaking of old pictures, there is even a “Richard J. Daley for Mayor” campaign poster – that’s Richard J. Daley, the father of current Chicago mayor, Richard M. A few My Goodness, My Guinness posters round out the room’s décor.
In addition to being a great sports bar, Sedgwick’s serves some pretty mean fare. At Sedgwick’s one can insatiate one’s self with such notable dishes as: New England Clam Chowda’, Raul’s Super Nachos, Sedgwick’s World Famous Quesadillas, Rotini Gorgonzola, Mas Comida Sabrosa!, a “Build Your Own Burger,” Filet Mignon and Vidalia Onion Sandwich (mints, please!), the “Best Damn Turkey Burger Ever,” and homemade pizza. If Sedgwick’s lacks in anything, it is certainly not in its intriguing selection of nosh with eye-catching names. Food is served daily until 1:00 a.m., and brunch is available every Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sedgwick’s even has a free buffet on Friday afternoons and Saturdays at midnight. Rub-a-dub-dub, bring on the grub!
The bathrooms and public phone are located in the middle entryway that separates the dining areas and the bar from the pool room. On your way to the can, have a gander at the large colorful mural of Sedgwick’s painted on the curving wall that lies along your way. The bathrooms are large and, thankfully, sans attendant. The pool room hosts a single pool table, a Golden Tee machine (which replaced the pinball), a smattering of cramped seating around cocktail tables, and a beige leather sofa. The room sports a nice view of Sedgwick Street through the large glass windows sporting more neon beer signs. This room is usually packed and, out of dozens of times visiting Sedgwick’s, I have never been able to get a table or even a seat. My recommendation: stick with the main dining room area, or even the “party room.”
While showing all Chicago sports teams on the plethora of televisions, Sedgwick’s supports the University of Iowa when the college football and basketball seasons roll around. Strangely, Sedgwick’s has also attracted Kansas City Chief’s fans during the pro football season. Hmmm… In addition, Sedgwick’s has at least one satellite feed with access to Fox Sports World. Because of this, both Anglophiles and Britons themselves can enjoy international rugby, as well as European and English Premier League Soccer (for a hefty price) on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9:00 to 10:00am, respectively. While Sedgwick’s used to be the only game in town for international sport, you can catch some of these games nowadays also at Johnny O’Hagan’s, Abbey Pub and Globe Pub. You can bet that plenty of those from abroad will be in attendance, with pint in hand (12 o’clock rule, be damned!).
In addition, Aussies will appreciate that Sedgwick’s plays the Grand Final every year. The “Grand Final” is the Super Bowl of Australian Rules Football, known to Aussies as “the Footy.” The Footy combines Rugby Union’s pace and lack of pads with American football’s punting, Irish hurling’s level of violence, and a brand of insanity that is uniquely Australian. The only drawback to watching the Grand Final at Sedgwick’s, is that you have to pay over $10 to enter, you get stuck in the basement (er, “party room”), and the game begins around 2:00 a.m. Australians and die-hard Americans can still have a blast getting “pissed,” as I did when the Adelaide Crows stomped all over the North Melbourne Kangaroos in the 1998 Grand Final.
Scintilating conversation in the “party room”
The afore mentioned “party room” is an interesting exercise in bar-o-nomics. The room is nothing more than a badly decorated basement. One has to tread down a harrowing set of stairs to get there. At the foot of these stairs, and around the corner, is a tiny bar where some poor chap doles out beer to wristband-wearing patrons in plastic cups. The room is furnished with folding chairs, a single table, and worn couches that I would be hesitant to expose any skin to. The red-painted brick and plaster walls, combined with the low, white-painted cement ceiling add an interesting dimension to this den. Overall, the room makes your uncle’s botched attempt at a rec room seem like an entertainment palace.
While billing itself as a friendly neighborhood joint, don’t expect the crowd to be any different from Gamekeepers, Lion Head Pub, Kelsey’s, or any other sports bar in the area. The only main difference is that Sedgwick’s attracts more women with their extensive menu of upscale pub grub, and tables with white tablecloths and votive candles. However, although the ladies also like the place, Sedgwick’s may not be the best place for a date as his attention will undoubtedly be on one of the many televisions, and hers may wander to scope out the rest of the homogonous, white-bred Lincoln Park crowd of guys. That, and the place gets louder and more boisterous the later it gets.
Overall, the owner, Joseph Drennan, has done a great job with Sedgwick’s. It is one of the first places I think of when I want to get some food, see the game, and get loaded. In recognition of its efforts, Sedgwick’s is regularly named in the top 10 for Best Sports Bar on many local websites. I couldn’t agree more. I even came to close to buying a Sedgwick’s t-shirt I saw behind a glass case, but then sobriety began to kick in. All in all, not bad for what was once El Coco Loco, a Latin bar that opened in the late 1960s. Oy, mate!
Sedgwick’s from every angle: