Is it possible for the owners of an elegant restaurant to open a neighborhood sports bar that satisfies Chicago tavern enthusiasts? Sully’s Public House is evidence that the answer can be, “Yes.” Located in one of the last bastions of commercial regentrification on the Near North Side, Sully’s is a godsend for the area’s new office workers, Florida Gator and Miami Redhawk fans, anyone who appreciates a good pint and upscale pub grub, and those in the area wishing to bypass the madness one block west.
The result of two years of renovation, Sully’s lies at the base of a three-story, wood frame building with a red brick base at the northeast corner of Blackhawk and Dayton Streets. Weeds Tavern has operated a block away through the lean years as this area was once a sketchy industrial corridor uneasily situated close to Cabrini Green. The area has since transformed into a vibrant commercial district a block from the bustling Weed Street bar corridor. Some have begun calling this area “SoNo” for South of North Avenue, inspired by New York’s SoHo, though the bar’s website attempts to claim this area “Southwest Lincoln Park”…
Step through the plate glass door and you’ll find a long space with exposed brick walls, dark wooden floor, and a wooden bar that runs most of the length of the north wall. Grab a high-backed wooden barstool here or at one of the cocktail tables opposite with its green banquette running along the south wall and windows overlooking Blackhawk. Sixteen flatpanel TVs ensure you’ll never miss a second of ESPN. Sully’s also sports a sidewalk cafe, equipped with portable flatscreen TVs, and a rooftop patio in summer.
Sully’s offers an impressive microbrew selection of 20 beers on tap and 30 more in bottles, and you’ll not find any from the Budweiser family. The selection includes Half Acre and Magic Hat, both of which were showing off their wares in a recent beer tasting hosted by the bar. All of the above admirably wash down what amounts to a step up from the average bar food, though consisting of the usual suspects like chicken fingers, wings, burgers, and fish & chips.
The restrooms are located just beyond the bar through a wooden door set in the north wall. Upon my first visit to Sully’s, I spotted an appealing Levi’s ad depicting a nude woman with a jeans pocket tattooed on her rear. Hot diggity. Beyond your pit stop is a back room featuring a 100″ HD projection screen, wrap-around banquette, low-slung wooden tables, and several ottoman chairs that remind me of that classic ditty by the Dead Milkmen, I Tripped Over the Ottoman. This room also hosts Wii and Rock Band tournaments. Another private room is located upstairs bar with three sections of banquette seating, cocktail tables and an additional 100-inch projection screen.
Sully’s gets crowded after work with a surprising number of people from all the new businesses in the area. Sully’s also supports the Florida Gators (I guess someone has to) by playing host to the Windy City Gator Club, as well as the Miami University Redhawks.
Though presenting itself as an Irish pub (like we need another one), Sully’s seems more of a surprisingly solid Chicago bar with a good beer selection and a nice alternative to the bedlam that is Joe’s on Weed Street. If you like Sully’s you might like Salvatore’s Restaurant in Lincoln Park, also owned by Sheriffe Jusufi. For more information, check out Sully’s Public House website. Well played, Sheriffe.