Frank (91) Chicago, Illinois | September 1, 2010| Updated December 1, 2010
Heck yes! A beer bar in my hood and a good one. This place used to be Kaplan’s Liquors and was a community staple old man bar/liquor store for many years before being renovated once into a nicer bar, still named Kaplan’s and now re-renovated and christened Maria’s. I will put out a warning that part of the crowd this is people in their twenties who are into art and music or, more bluntly, hipsters. It is run by the same people who run are the same as the local art gallery/"experimental community center", Co-Prosperity Sphere. That said, it is no kind of cooler-than-thou atmosphere of the type you run into in bike messenger bars and the like up North. There was also a good smattering of Bridgeport locals, including, to my amusement, one of the owners of another local tavern. The taps were good but, honestly, nothing special for the city, standard but universally good offerings from Bells, Floyds, two Brothers, Lagunitas and Founders plus a token tap of Schlitz, in tribute to their divey past. The bottle selection was rather large and of about equal quality. Prices were in line w/ Chicago in general, running about $4-6.50 for craft brew pints. I did notice some of the bottle prices were rather cheap though. I got a bomber of Three Floyd’s for the same price it cost at Binny’s which was nice. They also have a small store up front from which you can buy packaged six packs of craft brew. It is cheaper than carry-out from a bar normally is but still more expensive than a normal beer store. The bar was tended by one of the proprietors who seemed to be a generally nice and good humored fellow and legitimately excited about the direction the bar was taking. Overall, my only major complaint was they lacked taps from some of the up and coming brewers in the city, esp. Half Acre and that is pretty minor all things considered. My rating for this place might be a little inflated on account of my excitement of finally having a good beer bar local to me but, if it is, only slightly slow. This was a really cool place to hang out and there was good beer, what more can you want?
Probably the closest good beer bar to my place. Big selection, heavy on Marz beers, not the cheapest place. They’ve opened a food counter next door and its good street food. Service is generally pretty decent. It has a small biergarten in back, its a decent place. There is also a bomber-centric store in front which is quite pricey.
Edit: This place was just named best bar in chicago. While I enjoy coming here for the most part, it isn’t even close. One time i took my out of town buddies there and they insisted on buying some rev ba beer from the cellar. It was infected. What bar that can be called "best in town" stocks infected beer at a high markup? Sure they rectified the situation but also admitted they knew the beers were infected.
Wish I could give this more than an 5 for ambiance. There is something very Old Chicago speak-easy about walking behind the counter of the bottle shop into the dark, cozy bar. Always a highlight for visitors. Solid beer list. Reasonable prices. No food, but order take out from Pie Shop next store and they will bring it to you (great meat pies and scotch eggs). Looking forward to the new Marz space next door opening.
Full disclosure: I occasionally do the carryout but I don’t drink here (although I did many years ago when I lived literally the next street over and it was still called Kaplan’s... but today there’s wayyyy to many fucking hipsters there now for my comfort) . Anyway, seeing as I still live a few short blocks away, I’ll occasionally pop in looking for something -- especially if I missed it at Binny’s. A small selection, although they’ll have the occasional rarity, even if it’s overpriced. Fuck it... this is Bridgeport and it’s still better than the prices and selection across Halsted at CVS on 31st (or at Cermak Produce for that matter).
A very cool spot on Chicago’s southside with a store up front and a bar in the back. Large wooden bar that appears to have seen some use over the years. Server was familiar with all the beers on tap and was able to offer suggestions. A good variety of local and non-local taps. Prices were quite competitive. A really unique stop that pleasantly surprised me..
Maria’s is the bar that I credit with jump starting my craft beer addition and hobby. It was a cool night several years ago when I went to Maria’s for the first of many times and discovered Three Floyds Zombie Dust on draft for the first time. That was all I needed to become hooked.
I’ve been back several times since then and each time they have a complete different set of beers on draft displayed on their epic chalkboard as well as a giant bottle list. The front area is a liquor store and always has great craft beer choices. I highly recommend Maria’s during the week but be prepared for madness on the weekend with crowds, etc. Cheers to Maria’s and everything that they do!
Disappointed to start because their website says the bar opens at noon on Sunday but when you get there they say 1pm. I was on tight schedule heading to a White Sox’s game so it really messed up my plans. They offered bottles to buy and said to go next door to drink so at least they offered an alternative. As far as the bottle shop goes its ok, nothing special but I did see a couple beers that had sold out most places a couple weeks ago. Price is a bit high. I don’t head that way often but I will need to check out the bar to try to understand the charm other’s see. Parking situation is confusing to add to my head scratching.
The front is a bottle shop with an excellent selection of craft beer, and then through the back is a nice bar with a dive feel. Lots of craft beer on tap, and a decent bottle selection. Fairly priced. No food, but the food shop next door will hand deliver right into the bar. Fantastic place.