Editor’s Note: Winner’s closed its doors sometime during late 2002 and has become Irish pub par excellance, The Grafton.
Located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, Winner’s is one of the few sports bars that you would walk into without fear of what you might find in there. From the cedar log façade to the polished wood tables, chairs and bar, Winner’s is a good place to either catch the game, throw some darts, or listen to some live music.
Step through the log cabin style entrance and you will find your classic Chicago neighborhood bar set up with the bar to your right and tables to your left. Beyond the bar, you’ll find the regulation dart boards, pool table, large mirrored beer signs, popcorn machine, and strangely low bathrooms down a few stairs. While Winner’s has a dozen televisions, it draws a crowd for open-mic Thursday nights from those taking classes at Old Town School of Folk Music. Musicians also come to Winner’s on Wednesday nights for an opportunity to jam with Matthew Skoller’s quartet, following an opening set. Winner’s also serves food and has several beers on tap.
Centerstage Chicago describes Winner’s as a lesbian bar, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, the crowd consists mainly of sport-loving neighborhood types and musicians from the Old School. Overall, the bar has a friendly atmosphere and is a good place to hear some free, amateur music.