Club Lucky

By Peter Engler

The romantic ideal of a perfect neighborhood Italian joint—bar in front, dining room behind, run by the same family for generations—is a lovable disappearing breed. These old treasures are few and far between, even in Chicago. Club Lucky, quietly holding down the corner of Honore and Wabansia for the last 21 years, is a relative upstart but does a reassuring job of preserving the traditions of the city's corner taverns, backed by a solid Italian kitchen. Entering through the corner door into the bar room is like stepping back several generations. The padded booths, the checkered linoleum floor, the simple wooden bar—all seem familiar and comfortable. The turn-of-last-century building has been spruced up a bit but still exudes a vintage tavern charm. The same applies to the food, which purposely breaks little new culinary ground. Although the menu contains a few nods to modern tastes—gnocchi with vodka sauce, optional gluten-free pastas—the food is firmly rooted in our traditional Italian past. Beside the obligatory overflowing plates of red-sauced pasta (many made in house), Club Lucky offers such Chicago-Italian standards as fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs and chicken Vesuvio. Their take on the classic golden, garlicky pan-roasted chicken with potato wedges in a sauce of olive oil, wine, and yes, lots of garlic bests many better-known versions around town. As with most of its offerings, Club Lucky does it by the book—in this case a well-read menu of favorites.

sweet seats

The bar room with its cozy booths and the dining room with spacious tables each have their distinct charms but if weather permits it would be foolish to pass up the sidewalk tables, set up along both Honore and Wabansia. That leafy corner is among the most pleasant in the entire neighborhood.

chew on this

Before becoming Club Lucky, the Italian restaurant, the building housed Club Lucky and Hall, the blue-collar tavern, in business since at least the early 1950s - some sources say post-Prohibition late 30s. Many details have been carefully preserved including the bar and back bar with its round mirror above the cash register. The beautiful old T-shaped "Club Lucky" sign hanging over the corner of Honore and Wabansia has been updated with neon highlights but otherwise is much the same as it was over 50 years ago.


Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 AM–10 PM; Fri. 11:30 AM–11 PM;
Sat. 4:30 PM–11 PM; Sun. 3:30 PM–10 PM. Cocktail Lounge open later each evening.

price range

$12.95 (steak sandwich) to $35.95 (double cut lamb chops)