Saturday, February 28, 2009

I’ll have a Polish and a Samba, Sex on the Side

Elston Ave. in Chicago is a long, secretive street. It spans blue collar neighborhoods along the city’s Northwest Side, and cuts a soft diagonal through some rather stark manufacturing corridors. If there is a street that looks, smells, and sulks like Chicago, Elston is it. Resting among the street’s Polish sausage stands, Irish drunkard haunts, and muffler repair shops is the Latin flavored bar N (en-ye). The small, dark, overtly romantic spot hosts some of the most interesting nightlife in Chicago.

N resides in a pewter colored brick building, hidden on the corner of Elston and Wellington. The bar's only identifying features are a wooden sign hanging above the sidewalk and some candle glow from the building's small windows. Once you walk through the door, you’re hit with an undeniable atmosphere that is both welcoming and exotic. The affordable, minimalist tapas menu at N contains dozens of spicy dishes that are perfect for sharing. To soften the blow from the the gallons of rum you will consume at N, try the chorizo (two homemade sausages served with chimichurri), empanadas (beef, chicken, ham and cheese, spinach) or a tortilla (mix of egg, onion, potato). Drinks include various South American beer varieties, domestic brews, wine, and tropical drink standards like Mojitos and Margaritas. N's menu, while elegant and delicious, is merely a prop for the establishment's sultry mood and music.

The sounds at N are pulsating and provocative. The Djs play a genital thumping mix of samba, salsa, and reggae that sends pheromones bounding off the small tables and candle-lit walls. The vibe at N is unpretentious and the bar is sexy without being sleazy. Young couples come to the bar to dance in the flattering light, sample sea food tapas and get blitzed on mojitos. The crowd at N is a pleasant mix of music lovers, potential nudists, foodies, and club hoppers. Tuesday nights feature a live samba band, and as the evening progresses, people get increasingly free with the dance moves and affection. This is the kind of steamy, haunting place that a pirate would visit to pick up a sea bride. N is also one of the best Latin infused bars in Chicago, and in a city that is almost ¾ Latin, that’s saying something.

2977 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: (773) 866-9898

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