5522 N. Elston Ave.
Price of Old Style: $2 bottles, $1 drafts
Murray's Tavern is a blue collar dive bar located in the Jefferson Park neighborhood, an area of Chicago mainly populated by city workers, firefighters and police officers. I used to pass this bar all the time on the way home from work, with its Old Style sign hanging high above the door, suspended from the roof. We pull up and see an unmarked police car sitting out front...this could be interesting...
As we walk in, all four people sitting at the bar turned and stared...once again, we're obviously not regulars. The jukebox did not screech to a halt, though. Sinatra kept on playing as we took our seats, with the bartender nowhere to be found. We look around the bar...pool table, electronic jukebox, piano, Murray's Flag, and tons of pictures of drunk people hanging behind the bar. There is also a picture of Murray behind the bar...may he rest in peace.
Ten minutes later, a woman came from out back and got us our beers, and by now the old man next to us is trying to balance a HUGE white plastic platter on his head. This guy couldn't be the undercover cop, right? You never know in Chicago...
Halfway though our beers, plastic platter is still not staying on old dude's head, and keeps on clanging on the ground. By this time, a group of four guys have come in, and there is Irish music blasting from the juke. At least it was drowning out the sound of the clanging platter. The Irish play list reaches it's crescendo with everyone (except us) singing "The Streets of New York" by the Wolfe Tones...hmmm, this is a more authentic Irish bar than most I've been to in Chicago that claim to be (i.e. Irish Oak, Irish Eyes, Hye Bar, Mystic Celt). Oh yeah, we don't mention our ancestors are Scottish.
My previous thought rings even more true when we finally get to talk to the bartender, Maeve. She is 100% Irish, and came to Chicago 7 years ago. She give my brother a bunch of places to go see in Ireland when he and his girlfriend travel there in September. Unfortunately she didn't know too much of the history of how Murray started the bar, but it's been around since 1953 (see picture of flag). We thought about asking the locals, but weren't sure they liked us, especially based off this conversation:
Drunk guy 1: Hey Maeve, take care of these guys...they look like a couple firefighters! (laughs)
Drunk guy 2: Firefighters? Maybe those guys that fly the shitty planes and drop water on forest guys. A tough of tough guys here. (more laughter)
No idea what that meant, but I'm sure they were making fun of us...and I'm positive that, if he were still around, Murray would not approve.