The Run Down

We’re traveling to Fullerton Avenue in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood to visit a bowling alley with a rich history as the center of Chicago's punk rock scene in the 90s. Afterward, you'll head to a cheekily named 1920s-style tavern to end the night with well-made cocktails paired with tamales and pizza on the side.

1. Bowling @ Fireside Bowl

2. Pizza and Cocktails @ Spilt Milk

1. Fireside Bowl

If you want to get a sense of what Chicago might have been like over the past half-century, bowl a few games at Fireside Bowl. With a history dating back to 1941, this place doesn’t play by the standard rules of time. It’s a proverbial time capsule. What you see today is pretty much what it looked like decades ago.

While the look hasn’t changed much, its space has teetered between different personalities. Before it was a bowling alley, it served as an ice factory. And in the 90s, when bowling fell out of fashion in the neighborhood, it embarked on its live music era. From 1994 to 2004, it was considered one of the best punk-rock clubs in Chicago.

The New York Times said, “high school bands with only three songs could share a bill with bands that had three albums.” At that time, the business put on about eight shows a week. Bands, including the Alkaline Trio, Shellac, The Blind Staggers, and Fall Out Boy performed there.

Life as a music venue stopped in 2004 when it was rumored to have almost shut down for Chicago Park District uses until owners agreed to shift the space’s central focus back to bowling.

So we’re back to its bowling roots. Bring your crew through its dive bar entrance, racks of bowling balls and then into the 16-lane alley. Once you pay (it’s $4 to rent shoes), all you do is grab a ball and get throwing.

– $30 per hour Sunday through Thursday.
– $50 per hour from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
– Party packages are available for groups of 20 people or more.

2. Spilt Milk

After a competitive bowling excursion, walk two blocks west on Fullerton, where you’ll land at Spilled Milk on the corner of California Avenue. You’re here for a nightcap and some unexpectedly good eats.

Good times are the name of the game here. For a high-quality cocktail bar, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The bar’s personality is imbued in its decor. The space is swimming in neon lights, illuminating the bar along the east wall, underneath the green velvet-wrapped booth, and in the honeycomb glass pendants hanging along the center of the narrow bar.

If you happen to notice hundreds of photo strips tacked up along walls, rest assured that there is, in fact, a photo booth in the back of the bar. One small round stool serves as the booth’s seating, but who has ever resisted the challenge of squashing four friends into a small space to take amusing photos?

Good food is the proper way to end the night, and that’s how we’re ending the guide.

One of the bar’s most exciting offerings is its Family Meal Monday, a program that runs through the summer in partnership with various Chicago restaurants. Each Monday at 5 p.m. in their back patio — rain or shine — Spilt Milk hosts “accomplished personalities from Chicago’s culinary and beverage community.” You can find places like Longman and Eagle, Kasama, Bang Bang Pie, Seoul Taco and others popping in.

If you’re not there for Family Meal Monday, all year long on Friday and Saturday, you can get six tamales (from the Tamale Guy) for $12 and slices of pizza — cheese or big bad wolf — from Paulie Gee’s.