Beat cabin fever: gather around the fire
“We’ll conspire, as we dream by the fire…” To face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made, I’d recommend some good beers. Looking to warm up and get out of the house? Look no further – here are a few Lakeview bars with fireplaces to fit each situation, whether you want to sing your heart out, get to know a new date or hustle some locals in a game of billiards. Still too cold to venture outside but want some ambiance from the comfort of your computer screen? Check out the videos of each bar’s fireplace.
3010 N. Broadway St., Lakeview
I walked into Friar Tuck on a Monday night around 11 p.m. to find only the bartender. The cozy dive bar is decked out with holiday lights, and the round, wooden door makes it clear that you’re stepping into another (possibly hobbit-filled) world. Stop in to warm up, because the Friar Tuck world includes a big fireplace surrounded by stools, $5 mini-pitchers, free munchie popcorn, a jukebox, crazy hat Mondays, trivia Tuesdays and karaoke Thursdays.
The place isn’t usually dead, but even if it is, when you stop in to satiate a late-night beer craving, Grant will be at your side (er, behind the bar). He sat down to chat with me that Monday, because he sure wasn’t closing early. He said the regulars usually sit on the other side of the bar, so I’m proposing we start a regular crowd that sits by the warmth (but only until we’re wobbling, because I don’t want anybody falling into the fireplace on my watch).
D.O.C. Wine Bar
2602 North Clark Street, Lincoln Park
Whether you’re out with the girls or with a date you need to impress, D.O.C. wine bar is the perfect place to warm up on a cold night. The bartender told me they’re busy almost every night in the winter. The dark wood vaulted ceilings make it feel like a ski lodge, where you can sip wine and munch on cheeses (or other delicious, wine-friendly menu items) from the couch and comfy chairs in front of the fireplace. Waiters and bartenders groove to the funky, Motown date music with a welcoming attitude.
The wine list is so long I got bored before making it to the end, and on Monday, bottles under $100 are half price. On Tuesdays, wine flights feature three samples and are only 10 bucks. The menu has cheese flights, too, if you need some sustenance. The bartender said it’s common to find some “no school on Friday” DePaul kids at D.O.C. on Thursdays, but it’s cozy enough that I’d go on any night. The semi-mod entrance, the round windows and bar overhang are a bit odd, but it almost feels as if the bar is hugging me when I walk in, and everybody needs more hugs during winter.
Ten Cat Tavern
3931 N Ashland Ave, North Lakeview
Ten Cat Tavern looks more like an art gallery from the outside than a bar, and the interior decorations, too, are much more beautiful than I expect from a dark little spot like this one. Walking past the art in the window display, the bar, a mermaid booth, a few pool tables and some old school pin ball machines, I arrive at the back room. Reminiscent of old smoking rooms with red, regal chairs and dark wood, the room has a fireplace and can be rented out for private parties. It seats about 15 comfortably, and Charles, the bartender, mentioned plans for Sunday game nights in the future. Maybe Candy Land, he said.
During week days, the bar is host to a couple of pool leagues, and locals and their cute pets play unorganized games with a few bucks out on the table, too. The older crowd was very friendly, and I even met Comet, the dog who lives upstairs. The tap hosts a wide, delicious range of beers including Anchor Porter, Guinness and Half Acre’s Over Ale, plus Stella Artois if you’re looking for something lighter. If this is a dive bar, it’s the most elegant I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t hesitate to get some friends together for drinks by the hearth.