Best place to watch people dance to the jukebox | Best of Chicago 2011 | Music & Nightlife | Chicago Reader

Best place to watch people dance to the jukebox

Teddy Bear Lounge

3513 N. Pulaski

There are some bars where the regulars are so regular they practically live there, and any nonregulars who happen in are regarded as a foreign species—and Teddy Bear Lounge is a quintessential one. A friend and I once chose it for predinner drinks based entirely on its name, listed on Google maps as Big Teddy Bear Inc. So nondescript from the outside that it would be easy to miss, it's both divey and charming, with wood-paneled walls, a pool table, and a big teddy bear nestled among the liquor bottles behind the bar. Not that you're likely to notice any of this when you first walk in—you'll probably be distracted by the fact that every eye in the place is turned on you. But once you get a $1.50 pint of Old Style and settle in, the happy hour crowd will go back to its conversation, and most likely end up singing and dancing to the jukebox. It's a little surreal at 6 PM on a weekday, but not unpleasant. Just before we left, the owner bought a round for everyone in the place—including us foreigners—in honor of one regular's birthday. After dinner, we went back for another drink. —Julia Thiel

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