It was a Monday night, so there wasn’t a lot of action downtown as I wandered down Chicago Street, past the downtown Christmas tree toward Chicago Street Pub.
Most nights of the week, Chicago Street Pub is a live music venue, located across the street and a little down from the Rialto Square Theatre.
Nights when there are events at the Rialto or Tin Roof, it gets packed. So I purposely went on a night when nothing was going on, because I can’t handle loud noises anymore.
So on this Monday, I stumbled upon Cinco de Modelo, which essentially meant $1 tacos, tequila specials and $3 pints of Modelo.
While I entered thinking I was going to order a Reuben and Guinness, I was easily persuaded into trying three tacos before I even opened the menu. Essentially, I was going to eat a lot ... because I could.
With a ton on tap, I also took advantage of the $6 Monday night draft beer flight, essentially because I couldn’t decide from the more than 20 options on tap. It was a cop-out, but a good one.
Chicago Street also has special tappings at times, including one on a Saturday for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, the beer that was the only thing that could draw me out on Black Friday to go shopping. But that’s a different story.
For now, it was sampling the Chicago Street Cream Ale and Amber along with Oskar Blues’ Pinner Session IPA and the Victory Hop Devil Ale Nitro in 7-ounce glasses.
While open mic was scheduled for 8 p.m., it was definitely a relaxed and Christmasy vibe earlier in the evening. The bar is decorated for the season, with a Christmas tree right inside the front window and the three tall wall mirrors in the dining area lined with Christmas lights and cheer.
OK, you can’t line something with cheer. But you get the point. You could tell it was the holiday season by the decor, which is something that isn’t true everywhere you go to eat or drink.
Now back to the tacos. I was pleased with my opening choice (two chicken, one pulled pork). For sure, they were a little messy. But I knew I was going all in on this. So I poured on a little hot sauce, ordered some wings for later and dove in.
When the wings arrived, it was immediately clear they don’t skimp on sauce.
And it was clear my hands weren’t staying clean.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I was going all in on this, so it didn’t matter.
The difficulty had been choosing a sauce. But I tried to stay with the theme of trying something new, so I went with the Chicago Street Original, basically a mix of barbecue and hot sauce, along with the honey bourbon barbecue.
I preferred the honey bourbon barbecue, a good mix of flavor and sweetness and made sure to use all the napkins in front of me to avoid looking like too much of a slob.
It was a homey atmosphere, as some regulars (I think I can assume that) stood around near the bar and a few patrons sat at the tables behind.
It was relaxed, the food was good and I could imagine it filling up fast when something is going on downtown.
I’ve heard it’s a good lunch spot, too, and that the waitresses have impressive memories on orders, but none of that was my experience.
I just came in, sat at the bar, enjoyed my meal and drinks, and left satisfied.
This is a spot where I’ll definitely return.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at The Herald-News. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Chicago Street Pub
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
WHERE: 75 N. Chicago St., Joliet