To paraphrase a wise comedic sage of our time: You might be a redneck bar if …
- You have not one, but two “country nights” (Thursday and Sunday)
- Your college team affiliate is Alabama, and you’re in Chicago
- You serve a double Jack & diet in a Dixie cup
Yes, it’s true that Houndstooth Saloon (3369 N. Clark) is the closest thing to a trailer park bar we have in Wrigleyville, but that’s in no way a condemnation of the place.
First of all there’s the new digs, about a block south of the original location. The new home is much brighter and more comfortable than the old spot, which was too small and a little dingy. And it brings some much-needed light to the dank spot under the Red Line tracks that housed Twisted Spoke and the short-lived Zoo, among many other failed operations in the past half-decade.
Now they’ve got three different rooms, full of TVs, chandeliers, comfy booths and, yes, country music. It’s a pretty classy touch for a bar that prides itself on songs like “That Ain’t My Truck.”
On our recent trip to watch some NCAA Tournament action, we took one of the huge booths in the far-back room. The three flat-screens in each booth make game-watching easy, although the individual table taps weren’t yet working. (An aside: These individual beer taps seem to be all the rage, and they are a great idea—although I wonder if it’s not a bit of a dangerous endeavor, both in terms of getting waaay hammered and jacking up a bar tab at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s better to have to wait a few minutes for a beer, no?)
Anyway, you can’t complain about the sports watching—especially since the front room had the TV sound on for the die-hards while the back rooms played music. Country music. And lots of it.
The menu is pretty standard: burgers, a couple salads, a chicken sandwich with avocados called the Alabama. Nothing was particularly bad, although it didn’t really stand out, either. Among my favorites were the sliders, and the fries were exceptionally fresh and well-prepared. And you can even get them with cheese and bacon, which is pretty much the trifecta of bar food goodness.
We were there on a Saturday afternoon, and the place was for the most part full – but not too full. Our girl Casey kept the $12 Miller buckets coming, and if you think we didn’t take advantage of the $4 bombs, you don’t know the 5 Hours crew.
All in all, it was a comfortable place. Nothing particularly compelling for a return trip, but you could do much worse. Except—and I don’t mean to harp on this —that damn country music.
Put it this way: As we were leaving, the put on Bob Denver’s “West Virginia” to celebrate the Mountaineers tournament win. It might as well have been a Jay-Z song, it was such a breath of fresh air in the haze of country crooning. Ouch.
Of course, if that’s the worst thing you can say about a Wrigleyville bar, you’re probably doing more than a few things right.
By Matthew C. Wood, intrepid reporter