Tavern 33

Editor’s Note: Tavern 33 transformed into The Shire in 2008, which now features about 75 different beers (13 on tap).

Formerly Linkin’ Drinkin’ (a.k.a, the Lincoln Drinking Co.), Joe and Kim Imburgia’s Tavern 33 is a newer generation of neighborhood bar similar to that of Fizz down the block. With all of the new condos in the area, Tavern 33 now attracts more of a yuppie crowd than the older crowd Linkin’ used to attract but remains a cool place to hang out in.

Located next to the intriguing Monarch’s Heaven ice cream shop, Tavern 33 looks more like a bar you might find in Boston or in another East Coast city. The dark green awning is decorated with string lights, and there are white paneled, many-paned glass windows that look like they open out in the summer. On the inside, the bar couldn’t be more focused on Chicago. There are old photographs of the city, including one depicting the old Goldblatt’s department store, now condos, seen from the intersection of Lincoln and Belmont back when Chicago still had streetcars. The place is nicely decorated with wooden cocktail tables, old-fashioned lights above the bar, a tin ceiling, popcorn machine, and interesting metal working hanging on the wall. “BAR” spelled out in large stone letters hangs above the mahogany wood bar with white beveled glass. The large wooden doors lead to the nicely decorated and spacious one-seater bathrooms. It was in the men’s bathroom that a couple was seen going in together. While we expected the worst, with our ears pressed up against the door, they came out only a few minutes later leaving us with a perverted sense of disappointment. This guy was later seen all over this girl, which was impressive given his inability to stand. The new “friends” left the bar quickly, shortly thereafter.

There is also a big screen TV for watching the Sopranos on Sunday nights and, perhaps as a hold over from Linkin’ days, the place has a video poker machine on the bar in addition to the mandatory Golden Tee machine in the back, by the cigarette machine. The Tavern occasionally hosts small local bands.

“With JT Collins having gone the way of the dodo, Tavern 33 has established itself as the new local for Roscoe Villagers and other wandering souls, both during the week and as weekend starter bar. The tavern features a warm atmosphere thanks to the lively regulars, bartenders happy to drink with you, and old sepia photographs of North Lincoln Avenue.”

– yours truly as featured in Time Out Chicago

The Tavern not only attracts yuppies, but seems to attract quite a few single women in their late 20’s, early 30’s. It used to also attract a number of events organized by ChicagoFun, and the Psychotronic Flm Festival where one can catch such classic B films as Vampyros Lesbos. Sadly, goldfish enthusiasts will have to drink elsewhere.

Overall, Tavern 33 is a great place to hang out on school nights, and as a starter bar. The latter was recently evidenced by a group of people dressed to the nines in 70’s glam-fest – either they were heading out for a night of dancing at Polyesther’s or they were quite mad.

Photos courtesy of Carla G. Surratt of Picturing Chicago

Goldfish Racing

December 1, 2005

Today I was asked if I knew whether or not Tavern 33 used to host goldfish races. I was a bit thrown by the question not only because I had never heard of Tavern 33 hosting such an event, but I also had never heard of such a thing to begin with. Thankfully, Google has found a way to index all possible information found on the internet, no matter how obscure, so I found the following information posted on The World is Round blog (8/18/05):

“Years later, however, as a fully grown man at the age of 29 years old, I found myself as the proud owner of my very own goldfish. I named him Lefty, on account of that he was left handed.

“I acquired Lefty because a local bar, Tavern 33 on Lincoln Ave. just north of Belmont here in Chicago, was hosting its Thursday night goldfish races. This is where they’d lay two 20 foot gutters across a handful of bar stools and fill them with water. Then everyone who entered went to a giant cooler filled with goldfish and scoop out the contender of his or her choice. The fish is then placed in a 22 ounce plastic cup until his race begins, at which time he’s dumped in the racing gutter. At the sound of the starter’s pistol (also known as the voice of the guy yelling “go”), a piece of cardboard acting as the gate is lifted and each goldfish owner uses a squirt gun to encourage his fish to swim quickly to the end of the gutter.

“(Let me take a moment to add here that the bar has since switched ownership and no longer holds goldfish races, so if goldfish racing offends you, please don’t attempt to protest the bar. The new owner, Brian, is a great guy and the bar itself is wonderful.)

“Anyway, back to the races. So there are several heats with the winner of each heat advancing to the next round. Lefty won his first heat, you’ll be happy to know, only to lose in the second round to a fish who was clearly juicing. I think he was actually a large mouth bass.

“After the second round, I’d inquired as to what happened to the fish upon the end of the evening’s competitions. I was told that they were to be flushed. Well I couldn’t flush my dear little Lefty. So I kept him in my 22 ounce plastic cup, and drove home with him securely placed in one of the cup holders under the dash of my ’96 Dodge Stratus. The empty cup from a Wendy’s small frosty occupied the other cup holder.”