The Western Tap is another dark joint with a Polish influence on Chicago's West Side. Like so many similar bars throughout the city it greets you with a rustic facade and the standard hanging, shining Old Style sign; although this sign has duct tape holding parts of it together. The interior darkness is broken by the glow of the beer cooler, a few neon signs, and the lamp that hangs over the pool table in the rear.
Beat up tile floor? Check. Wood bar with torn vinyl seats? Yes. Wood paneling displaying the usually array of alcohol advertising? Of course. If you're the nostalgic type there is a pay phone to take you back to the 1980s. The Western Tap does have an ornate tin ceiling, a remnant of better times hinting at a grandeur that has long faded away.
There are hints that the Western Tap is a Polish-owned bar, with a small Polish flag on display, along with an “I Love Being Polish” sign behind the bar. Incidentally, the bartender, a nice woman who has worked at the Western Tap for a year, did not know the name of the bar or the phone number. Seriously. Maybe there was a language barrier, as she was from Mexico. Maybe.
Luckily long-time patron Joel was on hand to offer some insight. The bar is owned by a Polish woman in her eighties named Irene. Apparently she is quite the character according to Joel who lives in the neighborhood and has been a customer for twenty years. Joel swears that the bar picks up on the weekends with a mix of mainly local Mexican and Polish drinkers who have been coming in for many years.
There are no specials. But dutifully playing the role of a good dive bar, the drinks come fairly cheap. Domestic bottles are $2.25. Imports are a dollar more. Hard drinks are reasonably priced from $3.25 to $4.25 based on the cocktail. Keep in mind that the taps behind the bar are no longer functioning. So there is no tap beer at the Western Tap. Ironic.
Besides cheap drinks, your entertainment options are as follows; the aforementioned pool table, a decent juke box ( 3 songs for $1.00) offering Elvis, Bob Seger, Blink 182 , The Who, and The Beatles, among others, and a 27 inch television. There's also a cigarette machine, where for the low low price of $10.00 per pack, you can smoke your brains out...just make sure it's outside.
No food is served, but chips and pretzels are available for .50. Or you can purchase a palm full of M&Ms for .25 from the candy machine.
What's the best way to summarize why someone would come to the Western Tap? Let's leave it to Joel:
“When you want a cheap drink and don't want to be at home.”
There isn't much more to say.
2044 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647-4168
Sunday to Friday 9AM-2AM