The great thing about dive bars is the crowd. Old dudes from the neighborhood sitting next to bike messengers sitting next to guys drawing anime characters in a notebook. The bad thing about dive bars is paying $3 for a bottle of Bud Light. Go Tavern and Liquors (3219 W. Armitage Ave.) eliminates that problem by offering craft beers on tap for less than $3 (and PBR for $1.75) in a classy, yet classic atmosphere that draws the diverse crowds of Chicago’s dive bars.
Started in 1952 as Dorothy’s Liquors, Go Tavern has been owned by the same family for the past 25 years. Earlier this year, manager Mike Stellatos renamed and updated the place. He changed the name to Go Tavern in order to share a brand with Go Grocer, a local chain of neighborhood markets that is owned by his cousins. He took it from three taps to 13, replaced the coolers and generally spruced everything up. In response to customer requests, he massively expanded the selection of craft beer, craft whiskeys and wines.
Go Tavern isn’t technically a bar. It’s a packaged goods store. If, like me, you aren’t a Chicago native, this is probably a new concept to you. Packaged goods stores are part bar and part liquor store. You can order a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine at the bar. You also can buy a six pack of beer, a bottle of liquor or a bottle of wine to go. Although they all go through the same cash register, the two ways of buying alcohol stay separate.
What you can’t do is buy a six pack of beer or bottle of wine, sit at the bar and drink it. If you want to drink there, you have to be served by the bartender.
However, they have you covered. Every beer, liquor and wine that they sell to-go also is sold at the bar.
Is there a crazy craft beer that has piqued your interest, but you aren’t sure if you want to buy a whole pack? Go Tavern will sell you a bottle. Is there a whiskey you want to taste before you sink your cash into a full bottle? Go will sell you a shot. Just feel like drinking a glass of wine while you watch the Cubs lose? Go can sell you a glass of that.
So those are the rules for how you drink at a packaged goods store. But how do you eat? Go sells chips and candy like any other liquor store. They also sell their own food. Sandwiches and salads are made in a space next door. They have options for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. Of course, you are welcome to bring in your own food from Begin Thai (3209 W. Armitage Ave.), Dante’s Pizza (3028 W. Armitage Ave.) or another restaurant.
Go Tavern is not only Logan Square’s premier packaged goods stores, it offers the best beer value I’ve seen in or out of Chicago. You can get a glass of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale for $2.75. That’s cheaper than at the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, Michigan. You can get a glass of Revolution’s Anti-Hero IPA for $2.50, which is cheaper than the Revolution Brewpub (@revbrewchicago, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
The whiskey prices aren’t too shabby either. You can get a shot of my favorite bourbon, Eagle Rare, for $4.50 and a shot of local whiskey Few Rye for $6. These are bowling-alley-in-your-boring-hometown prices, not Chicago prices.
I don’t know how they do it, but Go has it all: great drinks, great prices, great bartenders and a great crowd. And to top it off, they even let local artists paint the ceiling tiles.