07/27/05 --Just visited Chicago and had a chance to visit your venerable Pippin's Tavern. Been there for 28 year I'm told and named after the Charles Dicken's character Pip in Great Expectations. However, I do also recall Pippin the play, circa 1978, so that may a more direct link to it's origins - who knows?
Must say the experience was unpretentious and thoroughly enjoyable. Bar interior is decorated with varnished wood, blackened neon, and ancient theatre-type relics from the 70s. Has a good down-home feel that seems to be missing everywhere else in that River North neighborhood. (Well I haven't been everywhere up there yet.)
Had some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's on tap and ate a Tamale with Chile and Cheese, and a Cheddar Char Dog with all the fixins (neon green relish, pickle, hot green peppers and celery salt come to mind) out of some plactic baskets. Delicious and cheap - they own Downtown Dog next door, so if you feel like eating take-out in style and washing it down with a few brews, this is the place.
For five bucks, the Internet Jukebox played all my 70s and 80s favorite songs in order they were entered, and I must say the crowd seemed to enjoy them. Jimmy (the proprietor?) and Mandy (the bartender) also made me feel right at home. One good sign is that other Pippin employees were hanging out there on their day off (!) and were telling hilarious stories. They apparently just got back from a winning Cubs day game and were therefore in rare form.
I recommend Pippin's Tavern to any out-of-towner who's had enough of deep-dish pizza and/or the upscale wine bar type places, or to any native that just wants a nice place to get some cheap eats and relax. Rock on Pippin's Tavern! See you next time!
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