Soulful Blues, screeching grammas and sweet potato fries at Kingston Mines in Chicago. What a blast!!

So we decide after getting back to the hotel, we decide to get talk to the Concierge and he recommends Kingston Mines and hands some coupons for $3 off the cover price. From the W, it is about a 12$ cab ride. So we get there and the place looks like a college dump from the outside. Not knowing the prices, we find out that the cover price is $15 to get in, but with our coupons, it’s $12 to get in….D* and I look at each other with some rather suspect looks because this place honestly looks like shit. We decide that we’re already here, and if the place sucks, we could always leave and head over to somewhere else.

Well once you walk in, this place looks like a complete dive. There were two separate rooms, each room has its own stage. The waitress who comes over, looks like she was in accident or someone broke a bottle over her head. There were bandages on her head, defensive wounds on her hand and she doesn’t look a day over 23. As for food, well the bar doesn’t serve food but rather there is a separate set of guys who run a kitchen in the back. I had the Jambalaya sampler at 13$ (overpriced and not enough), the chicken fingers and fries for D* $7 (decent) and 5$ for some ridiculous good Sweet Potato fries….moral of the story – get the sweet potato fries with the honey sauce.

When we came in around 10:00 or 10:15, the place was kinda empty in the main room but there was space right by the stage and I’ll say that I am quite glad we grabbed the seats by the stage – it got packed by 11.30 – although D* was a bit doubtful initially. The security is very good about making sure no one is standing in the aisles, which is hard considering the number of people. I appreciated this though, because I hate not being able to move in bars and clubs like this.

The main room is long, with a bar on one side and tables in the main area. There’s a small opening in front of the stage where people can/were dancing (assuming that’s what it’s for – the two old ladies who we met, were really into it were really very entertaining). The other room is much smaller, with a few tables on the main floor and more up a small ramp, which was great for viewing the stage. There’s also a bar in the back of this room, as well as a few random arcade games. The tables in this room are more like tall benches, just wide enough to hold some drinks, which is fine as long as you’re not eating. The band was playing in the main room, but the acoustics were good enough that you can still hear them clearly in the other room, but can still hold a conversation with the people around you. They had a closed-circut TV on the wall so you can see the band in the other room too, which is cool. The beer was a bit overpriced, in my opinion, with MGD/Bud/Lights at $3.75, Blue Moon at 4, and Michelob Ultra Light at 5.  Combine the cover charge with the drink prices, it could be pretty expensive, but it’s a nice atmosphere. It’s not super classy, so you don’t need to get all dolled up, but it wasn’t trashy either, which I really liked. It’s very neighborhood-y.

As for the music, this spot’s mantra (“Hear the music, drink booze, and talk loud”) is strictly enforced. My thoughts overall, it’s so freakin’ good, down to earth yet classy I would seriously consider making a trip to Chicago just to grab some great eats, then go to Kingston Mines and listen to some honkin’ blues until the wee hours, sleep in late, catch a museum or two, and then a flight back to Toronto. Kingston Mines is that good, and even though I typically take years in between visits, the quality never disappoints. Now any time someone I know is headed to Chicago, I say two words…yeah that’s right.

Some of the reviews online will talk about the tourist aspect of it….and my reply is that its bullshit! It was a terrific time there and D* absolutely loved it, along with the grammas and the throwback guy who dressed like he was from the 50’s.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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