Don't confuse Nick's on Wilson with Nick's Uptown. While the latter is uptown from Nick's Beer Garden (1516 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-252-1155), it's not actually in Uptown. (It's in Buena Park, for the record.) Nick's on Wilson--indeed in Uptown--carries just the sort of laidback, comfortable vibe you might expect from a bar in the unpretentious 'hood. Open since early July, Nick's draws a dressed-down local crowd with free wi-fi, a pool table and selection of board games that runs the gamut from chess to Snakes and Ladders.
You'll find the same easygoing charm at the 10-month-old Driftwood, a vaguely beach house-themed watering hole steps from the intersection of Broadway and Montrose Avenue. Like Nick's on Wilson, it's not flashy--but it's got everything you need for a low-key night out: a pool table, four flat-screen TVs, a neighborhood crowd and drink prices that won't break the bank.
After nearly 20 years in four different homes on the North Side, the Annoyance Theatre picked up once again and moved to Uptown in July. The new digs, just north of Montrose Avenue and next door to Marigold, include a 110-seat theater and a spacious lobby bar. One thing that didn't change in the move: the theater's absurd and addictive brand of humor. To help inaugurate the new space, Annoyance revived its original 1987 production "Splatter Theater," a fake blood-filled parody of "Friday the 13th"-style slasher flicks. "Splatter Theater" runs through Nov. 4.
Uptown's always been a mecca for music lovers, with the venerable Green Mill for jazz aficionados and a pair of classic Jazz Era theaters-turned-concert venues, the Aragon and the Riviera, attracting big national acts. Now there's a new kid on the block: the Kinetic Playground. And what a playground it is. You'll know the 500-capacity club by the kaleidoscope of colors in the trippy murals painted over the front windows. Inside, the playful vibe continues. Depending on the night, you might hear anything from rollicking neo-hippie jam bands to rootsy rockers.
M. Kathleen Pratt is the metromix print editor.
Originally published Oct. 24, 2006.