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Weeds, an unexpected Chicago institution

Weeds Tavern at Dayton and Weed Street
Weeds Tavern at Dayton and Weed Street
Dean Pappas

On the corner of Weed and Dayton, just west of Halsted, sits one of Chicago’s unassuming establishments; Weeds (ironically its address is 1555 N. Dayton St.). Its worn-down brick and wood facade makes one wonder what lies beyond the two wooden doors.

Upon entering, the first thing you notice sitting on the bar’s corner, is a stoic, sunglass-wearing bust of Sergio Mayora, the Hispanic Indian looking fellow who is also the owner, a singer with his own CD, and a former Chicago mayoral candidate. To the left of the entry is a Silver Strike Bowling 2000 machine, accompanied by six machines offering, for a quarter each, a handful of gumballs, Spree, and M&Ms-something that would seem to be more likely found at the local K-Mart. To the right is a punching bag machine, soon to be replaced by electronic darts. Further down, along the left brick wall candles burn in little alcoves giving off a faint glow in the dimly lit bar. The pool table sits in the rear of the bar where the back wall is covered by original artistic flyers that were used to promote Weeds over the years, and a rack of moose antlers near the restrooms. Original art hangs throughout with images of buxom nude women and welder girls dressed in lingerie as art subjects. Intermingled among the art are photos of Pancho Villa, including one of him covered in blood and dead, and Mexican wrestling masks emphasizing a Hispanic undertone. Definitely an interesting décor.

On a Wednesday night there was only one patron at the bar, but Jared, the bartender who looks as though he’s fifteen, and John Martinez, the owner’s son, swear that weekends are the time to be at Weeds, where a local crowd of older patrons mix very well with college kids.

The bar doesn’t lack for events; Mondays are poetry night, Fridays free food is offered as John cooks lamb, pork chops, and whatever else his regular cliental request. Live bands play on Friday and Saturday night, and there’s no cover. Specials are in the process of changing over from summer to fall and winter, but currently $3 Corona bottles are offered each Tuesday. For sports three televisions were tuned to the World Series.

According to Martinez, Weeds (established in 1963, not 1964 as it says over the bar), was once his father’s mechanic shop. The former shop area is now an expansive beer garden with an actual garden, complete with apple tree, in the rear corner. The beer garden is opened year round. The long-gone mechanic shop’s parking lot is now where the inside tavern sits. Turns out selling alcohol was more profitable than repairing vehicles.

Weeds is a friendly tavern that seems to have a lot planned. It’s worth stopping by to check out. But if you want to be among a crowd, you better try the weekend. At the very least you might get a free pork chop.


  • Nicole 5 years ago

    Will check it out next time I am town.

  • Rich 5 years ago

    I'm always up to check out small neighborhood bars. I'm glad somebody decided to start reviewing them.

  • TomAss 5 years ago

    A great place of unique patrons. Been going there for 20 years.

  • Train Wreck 4 years ago

    Played there on open mic many times. Great people, cold beer, nice stage. Can't beat it for atmosphere.