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2019 Wrigleyville Scouting Report: Houndstooth Saloon

Screen-Shot-2019-01-10-at-9.16.02-AM-1024x891Last week I introduced my first 2019 Scouting Report on Wrigleyville bars. I reported on Sluggers to start because it’s one of the biggest and most notable. As the season continues to warm up I’ll be sure to include one a week at the very least. As I said last Wednesday, sooooo much around Wrigley is changing. We got movie theatres and bowling alleys and just a bunch of shit no one ever cared about until big corporate money started flowing into Wrigleyville.

Honestly, fuck Shake Shack. There’s 76 other neighborhoods in Chicago to pick from. You don’t belong in Wrigley.

Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 12.03.04 PMShake Shack: A New York City Fast Food Company Since 2001 

If we’re not careful, Wrigleyville could end up being one heaping pile of hot commercial shit. The result is countless Cubs’ fans at risk for having a bad time before and after Cubs games. That’s downright unacceptable. You need to stay informed and be apprised of how 2019 is shaping up for some of our local favorites.

So with all of that, let’s get our second 2019 Wrigleyville Scouting Report. Today, we’ll be breaking down Houndstooth Saloon and we’ll be doing it on the traditional 20-80 baseball scouting scale.

Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 11.37.14 AMOverview: This one’s a little challenging for me because Houndstooth has spent the offseason on the disabled list going through SERIOUS renovations for the 2019 season. Located at 3369 N. Clark, Tooth is set to reopen on January 21st under the premise: New Style. Old Vibes. Same Feel. which has my crotch throbbing with excitement.

I love Houndstooth.

That said, with the renovations going on, this scouting report is a lot more touch and feel for me. It’s instinct and intuition. I don’t know for sure how Houndstooth is going to perform once 2019 opens up for them. So in a sense I’m exactly like a scout. I need to use comparables, experiences, judgment etc. to properly assess their outlook. Fortunately, I’m up for the job.

I’ve spent no less than 100 nights and five thousand dollars at Houndstooth since moving home from college 9 years ago. It anchors Wrigleyville with one of the most reliably crowded scenes on Clark Street and arguably the best kitchen. The patio is fucking SMOKING when the weather cooperates and gets bonus points in football season as Chicago’s official Alabama bar. As a seasoned degenerate you can’t understate the rush of taking big SEC action in a sweet SEC bar.

Most importantly, Houndstooth is the staple Sunday Funday after 4pm location north of Diversey Avenue and east of Ashland in Chicago. You will not find a better spot to get loaded for cheap while taking in all the modern luxuries of Country Music Night.

On to the grades:

Bathrooms = 40. This criticism of Wrigleyville bars isn’t going anywhere. Then again you didn’t come to Wrigley to piss you came here to get bombed up and take in some baseball. Even so, the bathroom scene at Houndstooth isn’t doing your bladder any favors. It’s not completely horrible: there’s 5 total urinals spread out on both sides of the piss closet. But getting there can be a butt funnel nightmare. Lots of shoulder tapping and turning sideways with the quiet Scuse Me as you awkwardly move through the crowd. Once inside, it’s actually pretty average.

Finally, this can be a positive or negative depending on your personality – I ALWAYS run into a random marginal friend in the Houndstooth bathroom. Maybe we had Econ 202 together 10 years ago. Maybe we lived on the same floor in college. Maybe a buddy from work. But always someone you don’t really want to hang out with. You’ll do just enough catching up for it to be completely unnecessary to even suggest hanging out later.

“Yeah let me get your number would be great to catch up in-between me hating my job, trying to get laid and not having enough money to even pay for this bar tab.” – You, sarcastically.

Again, maybe you like these moments. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve become accustomed to their routine pattern. Either way, they’re going to happen in young adulthood and even more so in the Houndstooth bathroom. I understand if that makes you uncomfortable.

Patio = 65. BANGER patio relative to Wrigleyville. They don’t cram you on a rooftop or stuff you in the back. They put you front and center on the goddamn sidewalk.

Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 12.23.01 PMGetting a table on the Tooth patio in the middle of July is a top 5 Wrigleyville Win. It’s the rare outdoor drinking environment in Wrigley where you are directly in the center of the action and newsflash guys: we here at Barstool Chicago HQ *love* being in the center of the action.

Houndstooth could improve the outdoor service, but at this point I’m starting to get pretty picky. You take the good with the bad. They’re running drink orders through the main entrance. So really there’s only so much you can reasonably expect on these grounds. They’re working as hard as they can, and more importantly: there’s almost no room for bitching on the Houndstooth patio.

Atmosphere = 60. I love the Alabama vibe but bringing me back to reality is the fact that we’re Chicago guys. There’s only so much Bama love I can handle, so I take a lot of satisfaction in the menu and quality of Attractive Girls That Frequent This Bar.  And like I said in the intro, it’s pretty sweet going in there on a Saturday afternoon with a bunch of Bama fans and watching them roll up some underachiever like Tennessee into a bag of shit. Even more so if you’re a tortured Illini football fan like me.

Drink Replenishment = 60. It’s a crowded bar guys I’m not going to lie. You have the big hog-molly upfront when you walk in. Usually staffed with 4 bartenders: one aggressive guy that doesn’t really talk to you just fills drinks at an astonishing rate, then usually 3 smokeshows that will look you in the eye to drive up tips. Overall they’re extremely responsive and will actively remember your drink order to speed things up. You’ll also run into the occasional Long Distance Refill where the bartender makes eye contact with you on the other side of the room, gives you that head nod like you want another pitcher and 2 shots of fireball? You nod back and maybe raise your hand to give a thumbs up. 2 minutes later she’s walking over with your pitcher. Is this real life? Yes and no. It’s just good old fashioned Chicago bar service in Wrigleyville.

Then in the back you have a smaller bar, usually stocked with 2 bartenders. Getting back there is challenging because you have to navigate a crowd and couple small rooms, but once back there the service is excellent. Cons would be getting to the bathroom from here because you have to go back against the flow. We’re getting pretty technical here guys.

The negatives center on the fact that the bar is almost always crowded. Like there’s always action going on here. So it will always take some time, and you might have to step on someones toes to get that next round. Whatever. It’s survival of the fittest in Wrigleyville and I’m not sorry if you’ve been waiting 10 minutes already. Do a better job of getting someone’s attention.

Intangibles = 70.  Houndstooth almost singlehandedly sparked the Fireball revolution in Chicago. Back in 2010 they were slinging it for $2 a shot in plastic shot glasses. Any time of the day, any day of the year, you could get a $2 shot of Fireball. If you hold these memories, you are a special person don’t forget it. What else…

The kitchen is rock solid A+ across the board. Unreal tenders, toasted brioche buns, hand cut waffle fries, chicken fried sammies and a bunch of other southern classics like cheddar biscuits and boiled peanuts. It’s one of the few places on Clark street where you can guarantee yourself an extremely solid meal before a Cubs game. It has that kind of versatility to play with some of the heavy hitters when it comes to pregame food. Very unique.

Overall = 60. Houndstooth has a regular spot in the Wrigleyville All Star game. No fucking doubt about it. The fact that they’re coming back after the renovations makes me really excited, like having that starting pitcher come back from rehab and all signs point to a huge year. Like it’s nice knowing the track record for success is there. And that everyone in town is supporting their game. But at the same time it’s not unfair to put huge expectations on Houndstooth heading into 2019. Will the butt funnel get better? Is the menu deeper? Does the patio have more capacity?

This is why you play and follow the game. The excitement is through the roof. The roof is the ceiling. All of it.

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Have a Wrigley Bar you want me to review? Email carl@barstoolsports.com and tell me why.