Northdown Cafe and Taproom

Northdown Cafe and TaproomNorthdown Cafe and Taproom
BA SCORE
4.23/5
52 Ratings
Northdown Cafe and TaproomNorthdown Cafe and Taproom
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

3244 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, Illinois, 60657-1109
United States

(773) 697-7578

// CLOSED //

Notes:
Summer 2017: Temporarily closed for renovations.

Monday - Friday: 11am - 2am
Saturday: 9am - 3am
Sunday: 9am - 2am

Added by KickInTheChalice on 06-21-2011

PLACE STATS
Reviews:
16
Ratings:
52
pDev:
5.67%
 
HISTOGRAM
 
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Ratings: 52 |  Reviews: 16
Photo of emerge077
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Northdown is the brainchild of Tom Lee (of Map Room fame), and the owners of Comet Cafe and Honeypie in Milwaukee.

It's sort of a hybrid place, neither simply a bar or restaurant, more a fusion of various elements. Yes there's a bar that seats about 15, plus a few booths and tables in the front room, with a few more intimate tables in the back past the pair of pinball machines. The space itself is fairly open and airy once you walk in (if it's not crowded). The ceiling is high, with modern ceiling fans, and front windows that open onto the street. Grey and steel blue walls, with a row of rust-belt americana photos along the side wall, framed in barnwood that matches the lower paneling along the booths (and the front door). Moose antlers are mounted on either side of a back pillar near the bar. From the outside, there's a FFF neon in the center window, and a new sign painted on the front facade.

Above the bar is a partial billboard with the slogan "If Attack Comes" from the civil defense era of the 1960's. Lining the top of the bar are a series of eclectic figurines, a Chinese waving cat, vinyl art toys, and a glowing glass squirrel lamp. Taps are behind the bar, no handles visible. (July '11: They've mounted the tap handles vertically on wood panels behind the bar.)

Once, "Billy the Exterminator" rolled in with his team of reality show cohorts, oddly enough. Walkie talkies, black sedans, the whole bit.

The draft list rotates frequently, and taking a cue from the Map Room, includes a healthy mix of styles both import and US craft. Kölsch, Rauchbier, Helles, DIPA, Saison, Wit, Quad, Porter, and those are just a few from the current lineup. Phase II of the bottle list rolled out recently, with expanded cooler space, now they have roughly 60 when they started out with 20. Highlights from FFF, Jolly Pumpkin, Founders, Girardin, Boulevard, Flossmoor, Bellegems, Mikkeller, Hitachino, Lambrucha, and many more. Again, emphasis is on a broad variety of styles from quality brewers, and not necessarily just rare/exclusive bullshit. Prices are very affordable on the beer, food prices are reasonable too, considering the high quality, locally sourced ingredients.

Semi-upscale American comfort food seems to be the menu theme, with plenty of vegetarian/vegan options. The stout-braised short rib sandwich was excellent, also the meatloaf "tower", mac & cheese, and roast beef were all tasty too. Check out the locally-made Fiery Alyce hot sauce they put out on the tables, if you enjoy smoky sweet heat. Great casual spot for lunch, brunch, or dinner... or just for a couple of beers.

Conveniently located near the Paulina brown line stop and 77 Belmont bus. Also nearby are Fizz, Beckett's, Village Tap, Beat Kitchen, Hungry Brain, Four Moon, Underbar, and Coopers, but Northdown has them beat beer-wise. 9/11: A new contender appears... Green Lady is a block or two up the street, 30 taps. Good 1-2 stop with Northdown, different taps and crowd.

 2,982 characters

Photo of misternebbie
4.16/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

Photo of kylehay2004
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Photo of dirtylou
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

a couple blocks north of lincoln & belmont, accessible by the Paulina brown line stop.

interesting comments from emerge077 - hard to go wrong with creative influence coming from the map room and comet cafe/honeypie (milwaukee must-visits)

huge "if attack comes" billboard above the bar, lots of bizarre swag, some pinball machines, cozy and hip, with a bonus view into a popular gym across the street.

dinner was the focus here - lots of homestyle stuff - went for a short rib sandwich and fries - solid for $12. Pies appear to be a big deal here, but we were pretty stuffed.

nice blackboard taplist - went for a great lakes blackout stout and a goose island christmas ale. 10-15 taps and a decent bottle list that i didnt peruse.

nice stop

 745 characters

Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

A reasonably sized beer bar, a bit more of a hipster vibe (especially from the staff the night we were there) than Green Lady down the street. They have food, but we did't try it. The beer selection is excellent, they were having a Perennial tap takeover of sorts the night we were there and we took advantage. Service was good, if a bit unrushed, and the beer quality was superb. Definitely a must stop in Chicago.

 419 characters

Photo of Canada_Dan
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Photo of orangesol
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Photo of Sparky44
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of TheRealPour
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of MarcatGSB
3.95/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

I've been to the Northdown a few times in my travels through Chicago, and every time I have walked away pleased.
Their beer selection is quite impressive, with a good number of rotating drafts that are fairly hard to get elsewhere, and I've noticed quite a few that are not available elsewhere in the city. Their bottle list is every changing and also quite impressive.
The food is pretty good, and honestly one of the few places in Chicago that has a killer beer selection and actually vegan menu options, not just pickled veggies or the likes. They put some good thought into their food. Its not on the level of HopLeaf or Publican or even Revolution, but just slightly elevated, good quality pub food.

The atmosphere is nice. It's upbeat, with some good natural lighting if you sit near the front door, loud music, but you are still able to have a conversation with someone across the table from you.

Would definitely recommend to anyone travelling through and in the area. It's a nice stop, probably just outside my top ten in Chicago tho.

 1,049 characters

Photo of dexterk1
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

Photo of GeorgiaBeerGuy
5/5  rDev +18.2%

One of the best experiences I have ever had... Tom and Kate (proprietors) are friendly, and a wealth of knowledge regarding the offerings/pairings/etc. On my last visit, I also happened to sit at the bar with some brewers that were in town for a "beer conference" or something, and shared some beers with 2 brewers from New Belgium and one from 3 Floyd's. An evening I'll not soon forget!

Try the "Pork Frites" and the "Candied Bacon with Stout..." Signature menu items that won't disappoint! And the Northdown Burger was fantastic... And the beer selection is vast. Something for everyone, with a killer selection of draughts.

 634 characters

Photo of Nuggetz
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of chippo33
3/5  rDev -29.1%

Photo of cadaugherty
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of drewone
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of birdsellam
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Fluffheady
3.34/5  rDev -21%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.75 | food: 1.5

This place looks and feels like a west coast bar. There's pinball machines and tap handles all over the wall. But it’s just not....right. I want to like it so badly.

Their draft list is super cool, short, and quality over quantity.

As for the food, well, I was embarrassed for them. They charged $22 for a charcuterie plate. There were three meats on the plate. Two of the meats were literally 2 circular slices each of poor quality salami. The cheese was sliced insanely small. I get charcuterie at nearly every place I go. I f***ing love cured meats and cheeses. Not only was this about $8 overpriced, but it SUCKED. The rest of the food we had was pretty sub par. I know this is a beer website, but I was so floored at how bad it was, it had to be included.

I don’t know what to think. It is honestly awkward for me not to like a bar with this good of beer. I’ll probably give it another chance, but it won’t be my only planned destination of the night. **edit - I met several people in Amsterdam who had been to and like Northdown. I’m definitely going to give them another chance.

 1,101 characters

Photo of Robyn
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of AndyEdgar
3.45/5  rDev -18.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.25 | service: 1 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

Worst service in the city, but damn they have great events and quality beers

76 characters

Photo of little_star
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of smartassboiler
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Can_has_beer
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of Chris-1911
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

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Northdown Cafe and Taproom in Chicago, IL
Place rating: 4.23 out of 5 with 52 ratings
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