Bawdy Boystown

Ryan Wenzel

A sleek metal facade gives way to a dimly-lit, airy interior with wood floors, glass tables and flat-screen TVs. Twenty- and 30-something professionals, clad in hip casualwear, sip cocktails from tall, square-shaped glasses. Think you’re in a yuppie Lincoln Park loft? Wrong. You’re at Sidetrack, one of the best-known bars in Boystown.

The chic decor gives Sidetrack an aesthetic advantage over other Halsted Street bars, but the relatively older crowd can be discouraging to lust-driven college students – at least those who want to keep the gap within five years. Bring a friend or two to fall back on.

The bar’s other draw is its themed video nights. Channel your inner diva with the tunes of Donna Summer, Diana Ross and Gloria Gaynor on retro nights (from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday and from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday), or play the drama queen during the energetic, albeit grossly stereotypical, showtunes hours (from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday).

Prices are reasonable compared to other Chicago bars. The best bet is to stick with gin and vodka cocktails, which cost a meager $4. Flirt with a bartender, and you might get one for free.

But if you bring straight male friends, warn them about the restrooms. The partitionless urinals – and the long, well-lit mirror hanging above them – can be frightening for first-timers.

Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., is open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday. The bar can be reached by the Belmont stop on the CTA red line.

– Ryan Wenzel