Pilsen bar offers Chicago history lesson

April 22, 2009 (CHICAGO) Since Wednesday is Earth Day, the Hungry Hound thought it would be appropriate to visit a place that was doing its part to help the environment. When you visit Simone's in Pilsen, you'll find a laid-back bar and restaurant with an eclectic, environmentally friendly vibe.

Now before you cast judgment on the practice of bringing one's children to a bar, consider this: the two-month-old Simone's in Pilsen is not your dad's idea of a watering hole. True, the beer selection is impressive-- with options like Munster's Three Floyds and Dark Horse from Marshall, Minnesota-- but here, it's all about the decor.

"What makes this place unique is the use of all the repurposed articles or the interior décor," said owner Desiree Grant.

So in some ways, you could think of it as a living museum of Chicago history. Just check out the back room.

"We call this Simone's lab because a lot of the interior elements are taken from the old Westinghouse High School which was located on Franklin street," Grant said.

The cage high above the floor also has its charms.

"Some people call that the cage. It is actually the DJ platform. There is also additional space. You can sit up there stadium seating style. There is a bit of a pinball theme. The designers came across some pinball elements and they decided that they would make great lighting fixtures for the wall," said Grant.

Other neat accents include conveyor belts from Fannie May Candies and a chandelier composed of an old washing machine tub, bicycle chains and rocking chairs.

"I would say that, like, it's cool because you see a lot of recycled stuff and it's good for the earth also...like for Earth Day and that kind of stuff," said Max Dolinsky.

"I think that's really, you know, good for the Earth that they're doing that, and they have solar panels up there so they're not using as much energy, said Madeline Dolinsky.

The food is also notable. From a vibrant Simone's salad or a hot wing sandwich topped with celery relish for me to a traditional veggie-sausage pizza or a grilled cheese and tomato soup combo with a twist: there's both cheddar and chihuahua - a nod to Pilsen's Mexican heritage - plus a juicy grilled tomato inside.

"I really like the grilled cheese with the tomato and it's funny because it's tomato soup and there's tomato in the grilled cheese," Madeline said.

p> "We do have a fair amount of families coming in, especially for lunch on the weekends and just for dinners all during the week and on the weekends. It's a great family place. There's a lot of interesting things for children to look at," Grant said.

One more thing: Simone's also carries the Tres Leches Cake from Kristoffer's Cafe just down the street. It's really good.

960 W. 18th St.



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