An interior shot of the Green Door Tavern, with a strength-test machine in the form of Uncle Sam stretching out his hand for a shake at center frame; also visible are lots of Christmas lights, colorful stamped-tin signs, and of course bar patrons.
A small sampling of the decor at the Green Door Tavern Credit: Kirk Williamson

After watching Matt Reeves’s The Batman, I felt compelled to re-create the movie’s nightclub scene for myself: I wanted to find someplace slinky, saturated in red light and bass. My friends and I headed down to River North, and after paying a cover charge of $50 per person, we landed in a subterranean nightclub that reeked of fruit liqueur. But something was off. The floor was littered with tiny empty bottles from smuggled Pink Whitney vodka shooters. Everyone was in dresses and suits. When I was in line for the bathroom, a group of girls informed me that they had traveled to Chicago for a Michigan State University fraternity formal. We booked it out of there and hurried around the corner into a small dive bar: the Green Door Tavern. 

Housed in a two-story building constructed in 1871, immediately after the Great Chicago Fire, the Green Door Tavern (678 N. Orleans) has been a neighborhood favorite for more than a century. Its name derives from its literal green-painted door, which during Prohibition was a way to indicate the presence of a speakeasy. Chicago memorabilia line the wooden interior, and locals anchor the bar. It’s warm and familiar, with an atmosphere that makes me want to lean back in a La-Z-Boy and drink a beer (and I don’t even like beer). Green Door may not have provided the superhero sex appeal I thought I was after, but stepping inside it felt like a homecoming.

Best of Chicago 2022 is presented by