Cajun-Creole crunk

Katie O

Not yielding to the intensive yuppie flavor that dominates the Loop, Voodoo Lounge, situated in the heart of the city’s white-collar hustle and flow at State and Kinzie, hosts the kind of happy hour thirsty dreams are made of: friendly, tasty, bluesy and affordable, serving up a welcome dose of down-home kitsch.

Serving mostly business suit-bedecked urbanites, tourists and trendy 20-somethings, this River North haunt still manages to maintain a relaxed feel rarely found in bars on this side of the Mason-Dixie Line. The lounge occupies a spacious room in Redfish restaurant, 400 N. State St., acclaimed for its Cajun-Creole seafood creations. Music blares and a jumble of old gas station signs, along with strings of tackily endearing holiday lights, line the wood-paneled walls of the bayou-esque room. Thursday through Sunday mean live blues and jazz acts, and Voodoo is reportedly where top musicians go to play. That plus no cover charge makes the journey worthwhile for Northwestern students seeking an alternative to Evanston’s weekend routine.

Some may plan their Voodoo attendance around the live acts on the schedule, but the week’s lineup of drink specials is also something to consider. Think towering $7 pitchers of aromatic, fresh sangria and $2 bottled beers on game nights (when the bar’s not blasting blues and being wholly Southern, most clients yell at the televised games between gulps). Also worth the visit: Mind-blasting hurricanes for $3 and margaritas that are refreshing and cheap ($3.50 on Wednesdays), if not the most authentic.

Voodoo Lounge is open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

– Katie O’Reilly