Chicago O'hare is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. If you fly American or United on any kind of semi regular basis you have probably flown through here on more than one occasion and have probably been delayed here more than just once or twice. Today, we're here to make your O'Hare layover experience a whole lot better.
In this article, the second article in our multi-part series, we're going to get you out of Chicago's O'hare, into a local and unique bar and get you back in time to make your flight. We'll tell you where to go (depending on the length of your layover), how to get there, what to drink and how to fit in like a local.
Off we go......
So your phone just notified you that your flight has been delayed. You check the board and, yup, your delayed one, two, three or (pick a number) hours due to (insert just about any reason here). That's on top of the layover you were already in for. *Sigh*, here we go again. You'll find a bar or a restaurant to enjoy overpriced and watered-downed drinks or maybe a quiet area to catch up on work or TV.
But instead of wasting your layover in the airport head out to one of the following local joints to grab a drink, meet some new people, and experience the real Chicago:
Layover of Three-Five Hours? Head to Hala Kahiki.
Founded in 1962 by Rose and Stanley Sacharski after a 15 year stint in the family owned/run mortuary, Hala Kahiki started life as a neighborhood Tavern known as the The Lucky Start. The original bar wasn't in the best of conditions or in the best of locations, so to spruce it up Stanley headed down to Sears and purchased bamboo siding to put on the walls. A customer asked if he was turning the place into a Tiki bar, and Hala Kahiki was born.
Today it isn't in the original location, it moved a couple of years after opening, but the spirit is the same! Below is a mini-documentary about it's history, the drinks and clientele:
Hala Kahiki Lounge
2834 River Rd.
River Grove, IL 60171
Hours: Mon. & Tue 7pm-2am, Wed-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 4pm-3am.
Food: Not unless you count complimentary pretzels.
How To Get Here: It's a mere 5 miles or about 12 minutes by car to get to the Hala Kahiki. Unless you have a friend to pick you up, your own car or a rental car, then a cab is the fastest and easiest way to get here.
What To Drink: Scorpion Bowl, Puffer Fish or the Chi Chi.
Layover of 5+ Hours? Make your way to the Green Mill.
Epic History - Check. Great Bartenders - Check. Al Capone's Favorite Speakeasy - Check. A Living Rendition of Chicago's Prohibition Era - Check. The only thing this place doesn't have is food.
The Green Mill is simply one of the coolest bars we have ever been too. It started life as a roadhouse and was later bought and turned into an extravagant club to compete with France's legendary Moulin Rouge (Red Mill). Prohibition, aka the great mistake, lead to instant financial trouble for the establishment, which in turn forced the owners to turn the place into a speakeasy. Today it has morphed into THE jazz bar in Chicago.
It's antique, early-1900s decor (all original), great jazz bands, smooth bar tenders and hours that keep it jumping well into the early morning, all make this place simply ooze cool. You come here to live, if only for a moment, 1920s Chicago and all the great things that went along with it. The icing on the cake? You can still sit in Al Capone's favorite booth, but you had better get there early to do so.
Find out more in the below video:
The Green Mill
4802 N. Broadway St.
Chicago, IL 60640
Hours: Mon-Fri Noon-4am, Sat. Noon 5 am, Sun. 11am-4am
What To Drink: Make it a classic - gin martini reminiscent of prohibition and the bath tub gin of old.
Getting Here: The Green Mill is about 13 miles from the airport, you can take the metro but it will take an hour (or more), so once again we recommend a good ol' cab for about a 30 minute rid into one of the coolest areas of Chicago.
And that's your Chicago layover made better. From a classic Tiki Bar to a throwback 1920s Chicago speakeasy, either of these places are worth the trip during another boring drawn out Chicago layover... or delay.
Tip: Use flightaware as well as your airlines app to keep track of you flight and it's estimated departure time.