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J. Parker is the Name: On Chicago's Hotel Lincoln Rooftop for Opening Night

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  Site Where: 1816 North Clark Street [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60614
July 31, 2012 at 4:54 PM | by | ()

How far into the summer are we again? That's right—the season is nearly two-thirds over and Chicago's first Joie de Vivre property, the Hotel Lincoln, just finally opened its open-air rooftop bar yesterday evening.

Though the debut was touted everywhere from Thrillist to Daily Candy, we made our way despite thinking everybody and their moms would be up there. Luckily, we arrived pre-sunset and scored a table just after ordering a first drink at the bar. Blessedly there is no cover, nor is there a dress code (like some other hotel rooftop bars that have gotten too big for their britches, ah hem).

A further pleasant surprise: the bar, though located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood at the intersection of Lincoln/Wells and Clark Streets, is so far douche-free. We can't promise it'll stay that way for long (especially after the Thrillist mention), but one can hope.

If we sound cynical, it's because we truly love the property and wish only the best for it. Having lived up the street and watched the building cycle through two horrible hotel identities before coming under JDV's skillful hand, we breath a sigh of relief, much like one does when a prodigal child finally figures out what he wants to do with his life. In short, the J. Parker rooftop at the Hotel Lincoln is a beautiful thing, beautiful for the neighborhood, beautiful for locals, and beautiful for everyone who is so crazy tired of having to stay in a hotel in the Loop or River North.

Now, for a little look at what exactly J. Parker is doing up there. The drinks menu is laid out thusly: three drinks each themed for three different world cities (Oaxaca, Havana and Majorca now), then standard cocktails, then wine, then beer (hats off to their offering the Great Lakes Brewing Company's Edmund Fitzgerald porter), then other hard liquors. The food menu is surprisingly short and affordable; chocolate chip cookies at $7 are the most expensive, though adding $1-$3 toppings to the $4 other plates can quickly build a bill.

We can only fault the place for its art. It's teeth-gratingly literal. Like, we get it; the place is named Hotel Lincoln. That doesn't mean to have images of President Lincoln around, and "artsy" images of Chicago just scream 3-star tourist hotel, not a chic boutique hotel for those who've likely already hit the usual tourist traps. Switch that shiz.

HotelChatter's recommended bites: The crispy grit cakes and the steak. Order chevre on everything save for the trout, duh, but skip the cookies as they're disappointingly tiny and meh. FRIED PICKLES 4lyfe.

HotelChatter's recommended cocktails: "Hello Havana," the "Parker Collins," and the Rosé Sangria.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/HotelChatter]

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