From dyeing the Chicago River fluorescent green to the huge annual downtown parade, it’s safe to say no city does St. Patrick’s Day quite like Chicago.
However, there’s one tradition most U.S. cities share: going to bars to celebrate. Chicago is no exception. Its abundance of authentic Irish bars and pubs means there’s plenty of food and drink specials on this celebratory day every year for people 21 and over to enjoy.
One such bar, Mullen’s Sports Bar and Grill (7301 N. Western Ave.) in West Rogers Park, provided the perfect snapshot of what an Irish bar is like in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day.
Mullen’s is a chain with locations in Rogers Park, Lisle, Norridge and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but its Rogers Park location is the original, according to its website. Named after Chicago police officer Jim Mullen, who was critically injured in the line of duty in 1996, Mullen’s is a small family owned, family-friendly bar with a fully-stocked menu and frequent specials on traditional Irish beverages, such as Guinness beer.
General manager Angela Patti, 32, said while there’s other Mullen’s locations, there’s nowhere better than Rogers Park.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit neighborhood, so we have a lot of regulars,” Patti said. “We have a lot of the same people come in every day who live in the neighborhood. Everybody’s kind of friends here.”
This was easy to see at Mullen’s on St. Patrick’s Day. Sipping on $5 glasses of Guinness, almost everyone was smiling.
The first thing noticeable when entering the rustic brick building was the sound of laughter from patrons enjoying themselves. It was 8 p.m., and there wasn’t an empty stool to be found in the bar. The pool table and dart boards were hot spots of activity, and the televisions hanging on the wall were all tuned to sports channels — on this particular night, everyone was watching the latest NCAA men’s basketball March Madness game. In the booths, friends and families enjoyed some of Mullen’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day food specials, such as Shepherd’s pie and corned beef. A pair of women dressed in green did a brief Irish jig beside the bar, laughing and smiling the entire time as one man sitting at the bar applauded them.
It’s a fun, if slightly hectic, scene Patti said she’s become used to since she started working at Mullen’s when she was 21. She said for students of age, Mullen’s has a lot to offer every day, not just March 17.
“We have pretty cheap drink specials and good food specials,” Patti said. “I remember when I was in college, that’s what I looked for in a bar.”
Mullen’s is currently showing March Madness games for the tournament’s full run, so Loyola students might be particularly interested in visiting to watch the Ramblers play the University of Nevada March 22.
For more information about Mullen’s Sports Bar and Grill, visit mullensbarandgrill.com or call 773-465-2113.