Celtic Corner

Chicago, Illinois

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

After the repeal of Prohibition, dive bars just like Celtic Corner in Chicago’s Elmwood Park suburb sprang up throughout the city to serve micro-communities on every block. Celtic Corner continues that tradition, offering a standard set of dive bar attributes in a clean, friendly environment complete with pool table, frequent drink specials and a set of gaming machines.

Field Rating

5

out of 10

About as classic as a corner neighborhood dive bar gets.

Field Note

Celtic Corner in the Chicago suburb of Elmwood Park is precisely the type of corner dive bar that used to exist on nearly every street in the city. Post-Prohibition during the boom of drinking-related business that followed, neighborhood haunts like Celtic Corner popped up all over urban cities like Chicago, quickly establishing themselves as the now-legal hubs for the micro-communities on every city block.

Built in 1930, the building that houses Celtic Corner is certainly not a new one, a rounded corner spot in a largely residential area. After a previous incarnation as M&M Lounge, the space was renovated into the Irish-themed pub that exists today. The signage outside conjures up classic Irish ideas of a country pub, vaguely Gaelic lettering inscribed on a pale yellow paint job with dark block trim. The door is recessed from the street corner, funneling those passing by into the Elmwood Park dive bar.

The space inside is about as straightforward as a dive bar can be.

The space inside is about as straightforward as a dive bar can be, a collection of hightop tables just inside the front door that gives way to the long bar that runs the length of the space. The bar itself is nicely well-worn, smooth and faded in areas thanks to a steady stream of neighborhood regulars. Padded stools line the bar and a small selection of taps emerges from the counter. The bar back features the usual liquor bottle suspects in front of a large bar mirror, shelving on each side and a TV in the middle. Chicago-sanctioned gaming machines can be found along the windowed wall opposite the bar.

Decorations can be found in bursts within the space, including the odd beer sign or framed photo. The largest visual element on this reviewer’s last trip related to a St. Baldrick’s event held at Celtic Corner, a very worthy organization worth checking out for the unfamiliar (heads are shaved in support of children diagnosed with cancer). For a space as old as the one Celtic Corner inhabits, the vibe is a very clean one, a refinished floor, fresh paint in places and a very clean appearance overall combine to project more a typical neighborhood pub than a cluttered dive bar.

There is no kitchen here but small items are made available, presumably with the support of a small toaster oven or two.

The space opens up a bit to house the bar’s pool table, a fresh-looking installation with plenty of space kept clear around the surface. A few beer ledges can be found for drinks and the Celtic Corner digital jukebox can also be found in this rear area. Digital signage is impressively omnipresent throughout the Chicago dive bar, a number of TVs surrounding the proceedings as well as a few vertical signs advertising specials and food options. There is no kitchen here but small items are made available, presumably with the support of a small toaster oven or two.

Celtic Corner is a bit of throwback, no surprise for a business housed in a building erected in 1930. The Chicago dive bar represents the long tradition of corner pubs serving small sections of the city, all of them dispersed in huge quantity after the repeal of Prohibition. Celtic Corner carries on that long tradition with a clean space, a typical set of dive bar amenities and a convenient location targeted at neighborhood regulars.

Photos

The Basics

7300 W Diversey Ave
Elmwood Park, IL 60707

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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